Print this page Geophysical Laboratory on Facebook Geophysical Laboratory on Flickr Click for RSS


The field of geochemistry involves study of the chemical composition of the Earth and other planets, chemical processes and reactions that govern the composition of rocks, water, and soils, and the cycles of matter and energy that transport the Earth's chemical components in time and space, and their interaction with the hydrosphere and the atmosphere.

Chemical compositions of asteroids can be studied from Earth by analyzing the spectra of sunlight reflected from their surfaces. When recovered on Earth, oxygen isotopes represent the single most decisive measurement in determining the parental or family groupings of meteorites.

Understanding the early evolution of the solar system and possible origins of life involve establishing whether one can identify chemical signatures of the complex succession of reactions encoded in the chemical structure of the meteoritic organic materials.

At the Geophysical Laboratory the contributions to our understanding of physics and chemistry of mass and energy transfer processes are experimental determination of properties of rock-forming materials and how to apply the property information to characterize rock-forming processes at the pressures and temperatures in the crust, the mantle, and the core of the Earth and terrestrial planets.

Stable isotope geochemistry has proved to be a powerful research tool to study water-rock interactions, climate conditions hundreds of millions years ago, and as tracers of biological reactions that manifest themselves in organic and inorganic materials.

Geochemistry News


Washington, D.C., 27 October 2014—In a new paper in Nature Geoscience, the Geophysical Laboratory’s Sami Mikhail and Dimitri Sverjensky outline a compelling model for nitrogen accumulation in Earth’s atmosphere, suggesting subduction, and subsequent degassing at arc volcanoes, is key.

Washington, D.C., 19 December 2013—New research from a team including the Geophysical Laboratory's Alexander Goncharov shows that under certain high-pressure conditions, plain old salt can take on some surprising forms that violate standard chemistry predictions and may hold the key to answering questions about planet formation. 

Advances in Matter under Extreme Conditions is a retrospective report of the successes of HPCAT over the past 10 years.

Washington, D.C., 22 July 2012 — New research from Carnegie's Doug Rumble and Liping Qin provides insight into the early evolution of our planet by examining the composition of a particularly useful class of meteorite.