The Plasma Laboratory provides the tools necessary for characterizing the chemical and isotopic compositions of materials, including the ability to provide micron scale analyses. Our research agenda is broad and reaches beyond that of the Earth and Planetary Sciences (i.e., including Chemistry, Biology, Material Sciences, Archeology, etc). Our primary focus, however, is using the chemical and isotopic analyses of materials to elucidate the processes involved in the origin and evolution of the Earth and other terrestrial bodies in the solar system. Our students and faculty are involved in a spectrum of studies, including the chemical signatures of upwelling in the oceans, secular evolution of the composition of seawater, crustal differentiation, chemical fractionation processes involved in core-mantle separation, the nature, evolution and timing of differentiation of pallasite meteorites, the condensation behavior of elements in the solar nebula, and other topics. Many of these studies are conducted in collaboration with several faculty members from UMD, as well as scientists from other universities and research institutions in this country and abroad.
Opportunities For Undergraduates
Geology undergraduates and others with background in chemistry and/or physics are invited to participate in research with members of the Plasma Lab. Research opportunities include hands on experience in chemical and/or isotopic analyses and data processing. In addition, undergraduate geology majors can structure their GEOL 393/394 capstone project based on data gathered in the Plasma Lab. Interested students should contact Bill McDonough for further information.
(Clockwise from left) Harold Connolly, Odette James, Igor Puchtel, Richard Ash
and Bill McDonough working hard on in-situ analyses of metal droplets and
grains from Apollo 17 breccias. (Photos taken by Rich Walker, who didn't want
to be in the picture.)