Areas of Emphasis in Graduate Study and Research at Stony Brook University

Seismology, Tectonics, and Shallow Surface Geophysics

Research in these fields focuses on the investigation of the structure and composition of the Earth, geophysical properties of Earth materials, and the mechanical behavior of the crust and mantle. An important emphasis is the study of high-pressure and high-temperature phases and assemblages, particularly those of relevance to the mantle. In situ measurement of elastic properties, compressibility, and determination of crystal structure complement studies of high-pressure phase relations for constraining models for Earth's mantle and equations of state for mantle phases. Specific projects include determination of ultrasonic wave velocities of minerals and rheological determination of the strength of minerals at the pressure and temperature conditions of the Earth's mantle to depths greater than 500 km. Research initiatives in these areas are closely linked to the activities of the Mineral Physics Institute at Stony Brook and the NSF Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences [COMPRES]. Facilities available in the Department of Geosciences and the Mineral Physics Institute include equipment for ultrasonic interferometry, Brillouin spectroscopy, and multi-anvil apparatus for experiments at high pressure and temperature; these are all integrated with synchrotron X-ray sources at the NSLS. Complete single-crystal and powder X-ray diffraction facilities and transmission electron microscopy and electron diffraction are available. Another important area of study is rock physics, fluid flow and earthquake mechanics. Experimentally and theoretically based, this program focuses on brittle fracture, mechanical compaction of porous rock, strain localization, frictional instability, and hydromechanical behavior. The rock mechanics laboratory includes a triaxial press, an acoustic emission system, and permeameters. 

 

Mineral and Rock Physics

Research in these fields focuses on the investigation of the structure and composition of the Earth, geophysical properties of Earth materials, and the mechanical behavior of the crust and mantle. An important emphasis is the study of high-pressure and high-temperature phases and assemblages, particularly those of relevance to the mantle. In situ measurement of elastic properties, compressibility, and determination of crystal structure complement studies of high-pressure phase relations for constraining models for Earth's mantle and equations of state for mantle phases. Specific projects include determination of ultrasonic wave velocities of minerals and rheological determination of the strength of minerals at the pressure and temperature conditions of the Earth's mantle to depths greater than 500 km. Research initiatives in these areas are closely linked to the activities of the Mineral Physics Institute at Stony Brook and the NSF Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences [COMPRES]. Facilities available in the Department of Geosciences and the Mineral Physics Institute include equipment for ultrasonic interferometry, Brillouin spectroscopy, and multi-anvil apparatus for experiments at high pressure and temperature; these are all integrated with synchrotron X-ray sources at the NSLS. Complete single-crystal and powder X-ray diffraction facilities and transmission electron microscopy and electron diffraction are available. Another important area of study is rock physics, fluid flow and earthquake mechanics. Experimentally and theoretically based, this program focuses on brittle fracture, mechanical compaction of porous rock, strain localization, frictional instability, and hydromechanical behavior. The rock mechanics laboratory includes a triaxial press, an acoustic emission system, and permeameters. 

 

Crystal Chemistry and Crystallography

The department has a strong background in the study of earth materials at the atomic and molecular level, and in using the results of these studies to interpret the properties of materials constituting Earth from crust to core. Two centers of excellence, the Center for Environmental Molecular Sciences (CEMS) and the Mineral physics Institute (MPI) concentrate of the behavior of upper crustal and Earth’s Interior, respectively. 

Crystal Chemistry
Both employ a wide range of structural probes, some located in the department and others located at national and international synchrotron X-ray and neutron facilities. Within the department, extensive facilities for single-crystal and powder X-ray diffraction, with capabilities for in situ high-temperature and high-pressure studies exist. Projects emphasize crystal structure studies on oxides, hydroxides, sulfides, carbonates, and silicates, including characterization of phase transitions, ordering phenomena, and ion exchange. Convenient access to the Brookhaven National Laboratory and the National Synchrotron Light Source, NSLS, provides opportunities for unique experiments requiring a high-intensity X-ray source. Other projects utilize X-ray absorption spectroscopy to examine local structure in minerals and neutron diffraction for studies of hydrous phases. Many of the department’s faculty are actively engaged in the design and construction of the next generation of beamlines required for high pressure and environmental investigations. These facilities are being designed with the requirements of the Stony Brook and wider national and international user base in mind. This work is complemented by electron diffraction using the department’s transmission electron microscope.

 

Geochemistry

There are broad opportunities for graduate study and research in many areas of geochemistry. Major initiatives exist in isotope and trace-element geochemistry, aqueous and hydrothermal geochemistry, and theoretical and experimental geochemistry of mineral-melt systems. All programs have a strong experimental foundation, and many integrate experimental work with field studies and computational approaches

Reeder crystal

Specific areas of research utilizing trace elements and radiogenic isotopes include evolution of Archean and Phanerozoic crust and geochronology of lithologic assemblages. These integrate with petrologic studies of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous terrains throughout the world. Research involving the chemistry and structure of sulfide and carbonate mineral surfaces are among the programs in low-temperature aqueous geochemistry; these include emphasis on geocatalysis, crystallization and trace element incorporation mechanisms, as well as the role of sulfides in the origin of life. Field-related studies focus on fluid chemistry in active hydrothermal systems. High temperature geochemical research focuses on experimental and theoretical investigations of melt and glass structure. 

Experimental and analytical work makes use of the department's electron microprobe, a transmission electron microscope, thermal ionization mass spectrometers, Mossbauer lab, DCP and ion chromatography labs, X-ray diffraction facilities, and two synthesis and experimental petrology labs. Additional work uses facilities in conjunction with the Center for Environmental Molecular Science at Stony Brook and in other Stony Brook departments (e.g., NMR) as well as at nearby Brookhaven National Laboratory, including the NSLS. 

 

Petrology

Opportunities for graduate study and research in petrology range from atomic-scale investigations, for example dealing with the structure of glasses, to global questions regarding the relationships of magmatic suites to large-scale mantle and crustal processes. Projects include spectroscopic and quantum chemical approaches for examining mechanisms of volatile dissolution and crystal nucleation in melts and experimental investigations of the effects of pressure, temperature, and volatile composition on stabilities of minerals and melts, with corresponding development of thermodynamic models. Field and laboratory work are integrated in some studies. Additional investigations have focused on the implications of magmatism on Earth for the Martian magmatic history. 

mars

This work is supported by experimental facilities that contain controlled-atmosphere gas-mixing furnaces, cold-seal bombs, piston-cylinder apparatus, internally heated pressure vessels, as well as multi-anvil apparatus for experiments at high temperature and pressure conditions. Analytical facilities include an electron microprobe, a transmission electron microscope, thermal ionization mass spectrometers, a Mossbauer lab, and X-ray diffraction facilities.  

 

Sedimentary Geology

Research initiatives in sedimentary geology at Stony Brook integrate geochemistry with field, petrologic, and stratigraphic studies. Trace element and isotopic studies of terrigenous sedimentary rocks provide information on their provenance, age, and composition, which yield insight to broader issues of crustal evolution, including sediment subduction, growth of continental crust and the sedimentary mass, and recycling of sedimentary rocks. 

Sedimentary Geology

Carbonate rocks and their diagenesis are another important area of research that utilizes a wide range of approaches. Petrography is combined with microanalytical techniques for trace elements and both stable and radiogenic isotopes to reconstruct the diagenetic environments and the physicochemical characteristics of paleohydrologic systems. Emphasis is also placed on the quantitative modeling of water-rock interactions. A strong component of field work is common for studies of both clastics and carbonates. Analytical facilities include the department's electron microprobe, optical and cathodoluminescence petrography and electron microscopy facilities, a mass spectrometry lab, a Mossbauer lab, DCP and ion chromatography labs, X-ray diffraction facilities, and a variety of facilities at the NSLS. 

 

Hydrogeology

The M.S. program with a concentration in hydrogeology is designed to give those with a B.S. degree is physical sciences a solid foundation of theoretical and practical graduate training emphasizing the physical and geochemical aspects of hydrogeology. Course work and a final research project totaling 30 graduate credits are arranged to accommodate working professionals, with most courses taught in the evenings. A formal thesis is not required. Coursework includes groundwater hydrology, aqueous geochemistry, rock and soil physics, numerical hydrology, statistics and probability, and organic contaminant hydrology. Final research projects are arranged individually with faculty supervisors and are designed to give students experience in field, laboratory, or theoretical approaches.



Department of Geosciences - Earth and Space Science Building, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2100  Phone: (631) 632-8200