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Professor: Marine Geology and Geochemistry

Seafloor Hydrothermal Systems, Mid-Ocean Ridges, Seafloor Volcanism, Hydrothermal Mineralization, Mineral-Microbe Interactions

Office: Webb Hall 2031
Phone: (805) 893-3718


  Rachel in the Galapagos Islands, 2006; VIEW Smoker Video!


Research Interests

  I work with my graduate students and colleagues on exploration and characterization of hydrothermal systems along the global Mid-Ocean Ridge, and on studies of hydrothermal mineralization. We are determining interrelationships between hydrothermal and other (magmatic, tectonic, biological) ridge crest features/processes, and are investigating the nature, time-scales, and causes of spatial and temporal variability in ridge crest hydrothermal systems. We conduct both geological mapping studies and geochemical/ petrologic studies. At sea and in ophiolites, we map, image and sample fine-scale geologic and hydrothermal features over entire ridge segments. The seagoing mapping and imaging surveys are done using deep-towed camera/sonar systems and deep-diving submersibles. Data acquisition is followed by computerized image analysis and spatial analysis. Mapping and imaging locates fine-scale seafloor features geographically, places these features within a geologic context, and is used to build a conceptual framework for follow-on interdisciplinary sampling programs using submersibles and remotely operated samplers. We collect mineral deposits and sediments, plume particles, and basalts altered by subseafloor water-rock reactions, and study their compositions and textures using a wide variety of analytical methods. We are identifying geologic and chemical controls on spatial-temporal variations in hydrothermal chemical reactions (above and below the seafloor), and also are studying the extent to which organisms affect chemical reactions and formation of mineral deposits in these systems. My research is interdisciplinary and problem-oriented, and my students use a wide range of tools and creative approaches to tackle unsolved mysteries of submarine magma/hydrothermal systems, mid-ocean ridges, and mineral/microbe interactions.



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