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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Washington, DC—Human industry and ingenuity has done more to diversify and distribute minerals on Earth than any development since the rise of oxygen over 2.2 billion years ago, experts say in a paper published today. The work bolsters the scientific argument to officially designate a new geological time interval distinguished by the pervasive impact of human activities: the Anthropocene Epoch.

Planetary Science

Washington, DC—New work from the Geophysical Laboratory’s Stephen Elardo and Anat Shahar shows that interactions between iron and nickel under the extreme pressures and temperatures similar to a planetary interior can help scientists understand the period in our Solar System’s youth when planets were forming and their cores were created. Their findings are published by Nature Geoscience.

High Pressure

Washington, DCIn Earth’s interior, water (H2O) plays an important role in rock physics, but geoscientists rarely treat water in its constituent forms, that is as hydrogen plus oxygen. New work from a team led by the Geophysical Laboratory's Dave Mao has identified that hydrogen can escape from the water under conditions found in Earth’s lower mantle leading to a new paradigm in lower mantle chemistry. Their results were published in Proceeding of the National Academic Science, U.S.A.

High Pressure

Washington, DC— Although helium is the second most-abundant element (after hydrogen) in the universe, it doesn’t play well with others. It is a member of a family of seven elements called the noble gases, which are called that because of their chemical aloofness—they don’t easily form compounds with other elements. Helium, widely believed to be the most inert element, has no stable compounds under normal conditions. 

High Pressure

Washington, DCPhase transitions surround us—for instance, liquid water changes to ice when frozen and to steam when boiled. Now, researchers at the Geophysical Laboratory have discovered a new phenomenon of so-called metastability in a liquid phase. A metastable liquid is not quite stable. This state is common in supercooled liquids, which are liquids that cool below the freezing point without turning into a solid or a crystal.

Upcoming Events

High Pressure
Apr 3, 2017
11:00 AM

The Geophysical Laboratory's weekly seminar series continues with our own Sergey Lobanov.  He will present, "Peeking into the color of the lower mantle: Optical studies of minerals at high P/T.”

Event Host: Alexander Goncharov
High Pressure
Apr 10, 2017
11:00 AM

The Geophysical Laboratory's weekly seminar series continues with Johnny Zhang of Scripps.  He will present, "Experiments on Fe-Ni-S Liquid with Silicate Solids under Mantle Conditions: Implications for Deep Carbon, Primordial Components and LLSVPs

Event Host: Megan Duncan
Apr 17, 2017
11:00 AM

The Geophysical Laboratory's weekly seminar series continues with Jessica Warren of the University of Delaware.  She will present, "Oceanic upper mantle composition and the evidence for an ultrarefractory reservoir."

Event Host: Anat Shahar