Geochemistry Group

Our Facilities

Facilities include a clean room to keep samples free of contamination.

At wprk in the clean room.

The Earth's Mantle

Our research areas includes source composition of and fractionation in oceanic basalts.

Collecting samples of basalts.

Powerful Tools

Our instruments include this fully automated 9 collector Finnigan MAT 262 mass spectrometer.

Finnigan MAT 262 mass spectrometer.

Quality Instrumentation

Our first-class tools include this Element2 ICP mass spectrometer.

 Element2 ICP mass spectrometer.

The geochemistry group's research is centered around the use of trace elements and isotopes to understand Earth processes and the environment in the broadest sense.

Trace element distributions and isotope ratios are used to understand and quantify sources and cycling processes. Research interests range from the chemical evolution of the Earth and solar system through time to local scale problems on the sources and transport of environmentally significant substances. The studies conducted by the geochemistry division concern both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial questions and involve land-based and sea-going expeditions and spacecraft missions.

The majority of our funding comes from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We have also received funding for our research from the Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf of Mexico Research Institute, Electrical Power Research Institute, the US Geological Survey, and the South Florida Water Management District, among others.

Research Areas

Research projects that use the analytical facilities of the geochemistry group span a wide range of topics. Some examples are:

Climate and Carbon

  • Light stable isotope studies of food webs (Chanton, Young)
  • Cycling and fate of organic matter as related to the carbon cycle (Chanton, Young)
  • Methane emissions and reservoirs (Chanton)
  • Reconstruction of paleoclimate and paleoenvironment using light stable isotopes preserved in fossils, ancient soils, sediments and rocks (Wang, Young)
  • Processes and factors controlling the source and fate of carbon and other elements in wetlands (Wang)
  • Reconstructing Earth’s marine history and oxygen contents using geochemistry and stable isotopes of ancient rocks (Owens and Young)

The Earth’s Mantle

  • Elemental geochemistry of modern lavas (Humayun)
  • Source composition of and fractionation in oceanic basalts using trace element and isotopes (Humayun, Salters)
  • The composition of the mantle as measured from mantle xenoliths abyssal peridotites and peridotite massifs (Salters)
  • Investigating the redox evolution of the mantle throughout Earth’s history (Humayun, Salters, Owens)

Extra Terrestrial

  • Studies of meteorites, solar wind and cometary materials (Humayun)
  • Siderophile element behavior in planetary materials (Humayun)
  • Proxy utility for fingerprinting possible biospheres (Owens, Young)


  • Applications of mercury isotopes to determine the cycling and behavior of Hg in the environment (Landing, Odom, Salters)
  • Change in mercury cycling as a response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Mercury isotopes in marine organisms Oceans Mg-isotope variations as tracers of weathering (Landing, Salters)

Oceanic Crust

  • Relation between abyssal peridotites and mid-ocean ridge basalts (Salters)
  • Chemical variations related to asymmetric spreading at 16°N on the mid-Atlantic Ridge
  • Chemical variation related to melt productivity and ridge depth at the Marion Rise, South West Indian Ridge


  • Sources and sinks of biologically-active trace elements in the ocean (Landing)
  • Use of trace elements and their isotopes to understand the sources and deposition pathways of atmospheric aerosols (Landing)
  • Developing and testing new redox proxies to better constrain the redox evolution throughout Earth’s history (Owens)
  • Constraining the sources and sinks of redox sensitive trace elements (Owens)


  • Magma transport and fractionation through the continental crust (Salters)
  • Hawaiian volcanoes (Salters, Humayun)

For more information contact program director Vincent Salters.

Last modified on 30 August 2016