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Research Areas

While Geological & Environmental Sciences research projects cover a wide breadth of fields, a special focus on eight areas unites much of the work being done today.

Surface Processes, Hydrology, and Geomorphology

Researchers of surface processes seek to understand and characterize the physical and chemical development of Earth's surface and near-surface, and the coupling between geologic, hydrologic, erosional, land-use, and atmospheric processes and responses.

Environmental Geology and Geochemistry

Research in environmental geology takes multidisciplinary approaches to the study of human/geologic interfaces, including defining the risk of exposure to potential hazards and the potential for mitigative actions.

Paleoclimate

Paleoclimate and paleoceanographic records provide critical insights into the Earth’s climate engine and how it will respond to future perturbations.

Geobiology

Departmental research in Geobiology explores the interrelationships between the history of life and the history of Earth and other planetary bodies. Current research topics include Precambrian life and evolution, early tectonic and surface systems on Earth, the early history of water on Mars, the causes and consequences of mass extinction events, and controls on evolutionary trends in the history of animal life. Sedimentological, geochemical, isotopic, molecular biomarker, and statistical approaches are employed.

Sedimentary Geology & Basin Analysis

Research in sedimentary geology and basin analysis includes field and laboratory studies of modern and ancient deep-water depositional systems, the relationship between tectonics and sedimentation, basin analysis and the controls on the composition and architecture of basinal sediments, modern marine sediments and geochemistry, and organism and environmental interactions and the causes and effects of mass extinctions.

Structural Geology & Tectonics, Regional Geology, and Geomechanics

Research in Structural Geology and Tectonics, Geomechanics, Plate Tectonics, Neotectonics and Tectonic Geomorphology involves many faculty and students who explore how the Earth's crust deforms at scales from the microscopic to the plate tectonic, and at timescales ranging from those of ancient mountain belts to those of recent crustal deformation. We take multiple approaches to our research and utilize a broad spectrum of methods including field mapping, geomechanical modeling, geochronology, thermochronology and surface-dating.

Petrology, Geochemistry, Mineralogy & Mineral Physics

Research in petrology, geochemistry, mineralogy and mineral physics includes a wide variety of collaborations across the department and school. The investigation of mineralogy and earth materials explores relationships between atomic-level structure and the properties of earth materials, such as minerals, melts, and glass, through experiments and modelling.

Geochronology & Thermochronology

Stanford's geochronology and thermochronology faculty, staff, and laboratories offer a wide range of techniques and expertise to address problems in the earth sciences that are constrained by time and temperature.

Geostatistics

The Geostatistics/Geomathematics program involves faculty from several departments at Stanford. Its focus is the development and statistical validation of numerical models to characterize the distribution in time and space of earth sciences phenomena.