Geological and Environmental Sciences focuses on the history and structure of the Earth, the physics and chemistry of Earth materials, the processes that cycle those materials on a global scale, and the interaction of human activities with geological processes and resources.
More information on research in GES can be found in these sites. These websites are created and maintained by the faculty, students and staff involved with each group.
The Archean Research Group, which includes Prof. Don Lowe and affiliated scientists at Louisiana State University, Texas A&M, and Temple, studies life, surface environments, and crustal evolution on the early Earth, especially before 3.0 billion years ago. Research has focused on microbial remains and stromatolites, the environments within which early organisms lived and sediments were deposited, and controls on the Archean climate, ocean, and atmosphere. We have also discovered the Earth's oldest sedimentary deposits produced by large meteorite impacts. The discovery of multiple layers of impact debris and evidence for widespread crustal disruption and fracturing related to these impacts has led us to explore the possibility that meteorite impacts may have played a major role in biological and surface evolution to as late as 3.0 Ga.
Quantitative Numerical Modeling of Petroleum Systems
A team of researchers has developed a science plan to train students using active research in quantitative numerical modeling of petroleum systems through an industrial affiliates program at Stanford University. The plan was developed with the cooperation and support of the School of Earth Sciences, including the Department of Geological & Environmental Science and the new Center for Computational Earth & Environmental Science (CEES) at Stanford University.
Sedimentary Basin Development and Petroleum Geology of China
In order to support research on the tectonics, sedimentary basin development and petroleum geology of China, and in order to strengthen the database from which evaluations of the petroleum resource potential of China can be made, a group of Stanford University researchers organized the Stanford-China Geosciences Industrial Affiliates Program in 1987.
Our research seeks to understand what controls mineral-fluid reaction rates and how these rates are linked to long and short-term carbon cycling. I use natural laboratories that span gradients in time, hydrology, biology and parent material to establish the relationships between geochemical processes and hydrologic/climatic, geomorphic and geophysical processes. To quantify reaction rates I couple radiogenic and stable isotopic tracers with reactive transport modeling approaches.
Chemical and Microbial Interactions at Environmental Interfaces
EMSI’s focus is chemical and microbiological interactions at solid-aqueous solution interfaces in Earth’s near-surface environment, where natural waters, natural organic matter, and biological organisms interact with natural solids and environmental contaminants. Although the field of surface chemistry is approaching 200 years old, rudimentary models dominate the molecular description of solid-aqueous solution interfaces and abiotic and biotic environmental interfacial reactions.
High-Pressure Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Petrology
Studies of the Earth's deep interior present us with a rich array of large-scale processes and phenomena that are not fully understood. Resolving these questions requires a focused study on iron which is the most abundant element in Earth, and plays a key role in processes from the crust to the core. For the metallic core, I have working on a series of experiments to test and explore various hypotheses and constraints on the alloy compositions, phase relations, elasticity, and rheology of iron.
Geoarchaeology is the application of concepts and methods of the earth sciences (especially geology, geomorphology, hydrology, sedimentology, pedology, and exploration geophysics) to archaeological problems. It provides evidence for the development, preservation, and destruction of archaeological sites, and for regional-scale environmental change and the evolution of the physical landscape, including the impact of human groups. Our group focuses on Archaeometry, the study of archaeological and art history materials using the techniques of the physical and biological sciences, including radiometric dating and the chemical and isotopic analysis of artefacts.
We comprehensively examine the evolution of the Earth's crust using highly integrated geochronologic approaches conducted in a wide spectrum of analytical facilities that are all housed within the School of Earth Sciences. Our highly collaborative research provides fundamental data to many disciplines throughout the geosciences, including tectonics, geodynamics, petrology, geochemistry, geomorphology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, and paleoclimatology.
This group studies the geochemistry and rheology of the Earth's mantle to understand the long-term evolution of the planet. The focus of our research is peridotites, which are collected from mid-ocean ridges and from orogenic/ophiolite outcrops, such as those in Oman and Oregon. Using these samples, we analyze mineral fabrics using EBSD and mineral compositions using the electron microprobe and various mass spectrometers.
Our research combines macro-scale, field-based work on the stratigraphy and paleontology of carbonate platforms with micro-scale, laboratory-based work on the petrography and geochemistry of individual limestone samples and mineral phases. In addition to field and laboratory study, I also compile literature-based data and use theoretical models to help constrain interpretation of field-based data and to determine the extent to which local biotic patterns reflect global processes.
We are engaged in field, geochronologic, geochemical, and theoretical studies of Silicic Magmatism and Volcanology--studying the life histories of the crustal magma bodies that give rise to large, explosive eruptions that spread ash continent-wide. Therefore, we map young silicic volcanic systems, do radiometric dating of lavas and tuffs, and determine the chemical and isotopic compositions of the volcanic products as clues to their origin and evolution.
The Sedimentary Geology Research Group at Stanford University studies a variety of problems in basin analysis, deep-water systems, process sedimentology, micropaleontology, and Archean environmental conditions.
The structural geology and tectonics research group addresses topical problems in structural geology, regional geology and tectonics, and how rocks deform--at the atomic to the plate tectonic scale. The goals of our research are to contribute to our basic knowledge of deformation at the lithospheric scale, how deformation at depth is coupled to that at the surface, and to better understand the driving forces for this deformation. We utilize a variety of approaches, both traditional and innovative. Our work is field-based, involving an important component of geologic mapping in addition to structural and microstructural analysis, stratigraphic and sedimentologic studies, metamorphic and igneous petrology, cross-section balancing, modeling and geophysical data.
The nature and extent of the SCRF affiliates program allows for paradigm-changing research in the field of geostatistics and numerical reservoir modeling. We are not bound by the limited extent of project-based research with its short-term deadlines and limited scope. This long-term perspective has lead to revolutionary changes in reservoir modeling, amongst which: the introduction of stochastic simulation in reservoir modeling, GSLIB as a standard geostatistical software package, the advent of multiple-point geostatistics, practical solutions for large-scale inverse problems with geological constraints, an open-source software termed S-GEMS, techniques for modeling uncertainty.
The Stanford Project on Deepwater Depositional Systems (SPODDS) is a research program focused on the study of ancient and modern coarse-clastic deep-water deposits from around the world. Affiliate members of this industrial consortium include numerous international energy companies that seek greater understanding of deep-water deposits as reservoir system for oil and gas.
This academic program is supervised by Atilla Aydin and David D. Pollard. Over the past ten years students in this program have studied all of the common expressions of brittle deformation in the earth's crust including folds, faults, and fractures at length scales from a thin section to a mountain range. Recently, we have started to investigate fracturing and faulting of rocks under ductile conditions.
The focus of our research is on fundamental issues of structure and dynamics in crystalline, glassy, and liquid silicates and oxides, and on glass-forming liquids in general. Our goal is to relate experimental measurements of atomic-scale processes to macroscopic properties of interest to the earth sciences (including mineralogy, igneous and metamorphic petrology, volcanology and geochemistry), materials sciences, and physical chemistry.
Our research focuses on phenomena that occur at solid-water and biological interfaces that affect environmentally important processes such as trace element sorption and mineral alteration in aquatic and subsurface settings. Combining environmental chemistry, geochemistry, microbiology, and surface science, we develop and apply research tools to study simplified systems that underpin complexity in the natural environment. Many of these tools utilize synchrotron light sources, including X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectroscopy, scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM), X-ray standing waves, grazing incidence X-ray absorption spectroscopy, and synchrotron-based X-ray diffraction.
Our research interests focus on understanding topographic construction in the context of geomorphic surface transport processes and tectonic deformation. We use a combination of detailed field studies, analytical and numerical models, and laboratory measurements to understand how landscapes evolve in different tectonic, climatic, and geologic environments. Our research spans a broad range of topics that cover various geographical regions, from studies of deformation and erosion in Tibet and Kurdistan, to detailed landform-scale studies along the San Andreas Fault. Please feel free to visit our list of active projects under the "Research" portion of this website to see the variety and scope of projects in which we are currently engaged.