Petrologic Process in Geology

The Petrologic Processes research area focuses on the origin and evolution of rocks, minerals and meteorites as a means to understand the interiors of planetary bodies. Through melting, crystallization, metamorphism, melt migration, degassing, impacts and other events, the properties of rocks influence and preserve the history of the Earth and other planets. Faculty in this area use experimental, field-based, and computational tools to read the records and understand the possibilities of high-temperature, high-pressure processes. Petrology at Caltech is closely linked to geochemistry, planetary science, geophysics, materials science, and other fields.

click here to see Petrology Facilities in Geology

Petrologic Process - Core Faculty

Paul Asimow: Igneous Petrology

Thermodynamic and kinetic models of magmatic processes including adiabatic mantle melting and melt transport; the role of water in petrologic and geodynamic behavior of the mantle; melting and differentiation in the deep mantle and the early earth; experimental investigation of silicate liquids and minerals under static and dynamic high pressure; petrologic and geodynamic processes at mid-ocean ridges and back-arc basins.


John Eiler: Geochemistry

The isotope geochemistry of light elements (H, C, N, O and S), as applied to: the origin and evolution of igneous rocks; the origin and evolution of meteorites; planetary atmospheres; atmospheric and environmental chemistry; paleoclimate; and paleontology.


Ken Farley: Noble gas geochemistry and cosmogenic dating

Rare gas composition of terrestrial materials, chemical evolution of the Earth's mantle and atmosphere, petrogenesis of oceanic lavas, low temperature thermochronometry, geologic record of interplanetary dust flux.


George Rossman: Mineralogy

Spectroscopic methods applied to minerals which address trace hydrous components, metal ion site occupancy, color, ionizing radiation effects, nano-phases and X-ray amorphous materials.


Jason Saleeby: Developing a better understanding of the tectonics of the earth's mountain belts and, in particular, ocean basin continental margin interactions and crustal-formation processes along western North America.

Tectonic and geochronological studies in orogenic terranes of western North America, emphasizing the paleogeographic development of the Pacific basin and margins.


Edward Stolper: Origin and evolution of igneous rocks on the earth and other planets

Research interests center on studies of the origin and evolution of igneous rocks on the earth and other planets using experiment, theory, and field studies. Recent focuses include studies of Hawaii and other hot spot volcanoes, theory and modeling of the thermodynamics of mantle melting, oxygen isotopes as probes of mantle sources of magmas, the petrology of Martian meteorites, and the role of volatiles in island arc magmatism.


Petrologic Process - Associated Faculty

Jennifer M. Jackson: Mineral Physics

Combining experimental results with geophysical methods to better understand planetary interiors.