About the Geophysical Laboratory

The Geophysical Laboratory was established in 1905 to investigate the processes that control the composition and structure of the Earth as it was known at the time, including developing the underlying physics and chemistry and creating the experimental tools required for the task. Over a century later, this core mission has expanded to include the physics, chemistry, and biology of the Earth over the entire range of conditions our planet has experienced since its formation, as well as parallel studies of other planets of this and other solar systems from their surfaces to their cores.

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High Pressure

Washington, DC— Hydrogen is the most-abundant element in the universe. It’s also the simplest—sporting only a single electron in each atom. But that simplicity is deceptive, because there is still so much we have to learn about hydrogen.

One of the biggest unknowns is its transformation under the extreme pressures and temperatures found in the interiors of giant planets, where it is squeezed until it becomes liquid metal, capable of conducting electricity. New work published in Physical Review Letters by the Geohysical Laboratory’s Alexander Goncharov and University of Edinburgh’s Stewart McWilliams measures the conditions under which hydrogen undergoes this transition in the lab and finds an intermediate state between gas and metal, which they’re calling “dark hydrogen.”


Washington, D.C.—Scientists have looked for different ways to force hydrogen into a metallic state for decades.

High Pressure

Washington, DC— Earth's magnetic field shields us from deadly cosmic radiation, and without it, life as we know it could not exist here. The motion of liquid iron in the planet’s outer core, a phenomenon called a “geodynamo,” generates the field.

Planetary Science

Congratulations to the Geophsyical Laboratory's own Stephen Elardo on receiving NASA's Early Career Fellowship!


This story took time… time, extreme pressure and high temperature. It’s a story of complex NH bedrock geology but also remarkable coincidences. It’s the story of a short-lived, nearly forgotten chapter of NH history: graphite mining in the western hills of our State from the White Mountains to the Monadnock Region.

Upcoming Events

High Pressure
Sep 26, 2016
11:00 AM

The Geophysical Laboratory's weekly seminar series continues with Colin Jackson from the Geophysical Laboratory.  He will present, "Discrete stages of core formation survive the moon forming impact."

Event Host: Yingwei Fei
Oct 20, 2016
6:30 PM

Lara Wagner, staff scientist at DTM, presents the first of four lectures in our annual Neighborhood Lecture Series.  The key to life’s evolution on Earth is the development and persistence of plate tectonics, a planetary process that affects everything from the mineral composition of the continents to the existence of liquid water on Earth’s surface. 

Event Host: Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
Nov 15, 2016
6:30 PM

Bob Hazen, staff scientsist at the Geophysical Laboratory, continues our Neighborhood Lecture Series with the second of four lectures. The distribution of minerals on Earth, Mars, and other worlds mimics social networks, as commonly applied to such varied topics as Facebook interactions, the spread of disease, and terrorism networks.

Event Host: Geophysical Laboratory