Rensselaer was the first school in North America dedicated to instruction in technology and science, and earth science was one of the first topics incorporated into the school curriculum. America's earliest preeminent geologist, Amos Eaton, was one of the principle founders of RPI, and he quickly established the school's reputation in science by training a number of the early leaders in earth science research. Our modern department carries on this proud tradition, educating students at the forefront of scientific understanding.
Seismic characterization and processing
Our department is at the forefront of using new seismological techniques to resolve the structure of the crust and mantle,and their dynamics. Through careful and novel manipulation of seismic data, we are providing new insights into the composition and heterogeneity of the Earth, and the underlying structure of the deep subsurface. We are applying these techniques to a number of diverse areas, including the Tien Shan Mountains (China), the San Andreas Fault, the Adirondacks, Yucca Mountain, Taiwan, and Central Asia.
My area of expertise is in paleoceanography and micropaleontology. Much of my work utilizes assemblage and geochemistry changes in the marine microfossil group benthic foraminifera, integrated with biostratigraphy, lithology, geophysical well logging, and seismic profile studies. I apply these integrated tools to a broad spectrum of reconstructions from the marine geological record, such as past ocean and climate conditions, paleobathymetry and sea level change, and the geological carbon cycle.
Our department is instrumental in providing some of the most powerful computational tools and evaluation techniques required to interpret the complicated nature of metamorphic reactions within the earth. We are evaluating the thermodynamics of common metamorphic mineral assemblages, characterizing crystal growth and compositional changes, and developing analytical techniques to determine the ages of metamorphic events. These constrain the geologic history of a number of regions, including New England, the Adirondacks of New York, the Caledonides of Norway, and Greece.
Research in inorganic geochemistry in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences focuses on chemical equilibria and transport phenomena in solid-Earth systems (and to some extent in other terrestrial planets and meteorites). This umbrella takes in a wide range of systems, spanning the realm from core-mantle interactions to climate proxies.
My research covers the fields of solar and solar-terrestrial physics, ocean and environmental informatics, computational and computer science, distributed semantic data frameworks, digital humanities and exploratory large-scale visualization. The results are applied to large-scale distributed scientific repositories addressing the full life-cycle of data and information within specific science and engineering disciplines as well as among disciplines.
Freshwater and sediment environmental chemistry and hydrology
Our department has pioneered the use of chemical and isotopic markers to characterize the deposition of sediments and the effects of human development on these systems. We also are involved in characterizing sources, transport, and degradation of pollutants in surface and groundwater environments, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), common solvents, fuel products and additives, and other petroleum hydrocarbons.
The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers the study of Earth’s component materials, the development of its structures and surface features, the processes by which these change with time, and the origin, discovery, and protection of its resources—water, fuels, and minerals. Our students use techniques ranging from seismological and satellite-tracking investigations of crustal motions to state-of-the-art geochemical instruments.
A flexible program for students interested in interdisciplinary areas while maintaining emphasis in earth and environmental sciences. Students are encouraged to take electives in their field of interest, including some outside the department. These should form a coherent group and be approved by the adviser. The department adviser will consult with each student individually to arrange an optimal program in geology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, geophysics, or environmental geoscience.