The goal of my research is to understand how planetary processes affect the chemistry of the Earth, Moon and other objects, and to use that chemistry to understand the origin and evolution of planetary bodies. The minerals that are stable in planetary interiors determine how major elements (silicon, magnesium, iron, calcium, aluminum, titanium, sodium and sometimes water) are distributed, and how they behave when melting occurs and magmas are generated and transported to the surface in volcanoes. The presence of volatiles (water, carbon and others) have a large influence on the strength and melting point of planetary interiors, determining where magmas will be produced, where volcanoes form and how they erupt. Magma generation, and on the Earth the subduction of tectonic plates, produce variability of trace elements in deep planetary interiors. Over time, the accumulation of isotopes produced by radioactive decay (Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, U-Th-Pb-He, Lu-Hf, Re-Os and others) generate irreversible isotope fingerprints for deep reservoirs, but the constant motion of planetary convection attempts to mix and homogenize this variability. All of these processes are reflected in the chemistry of deep samples - xenoliths, lavas, volcanic glass, minerals, gases and melt inclusions - that are delivered to the surface by volcanic activity. Where samples are inaccessible, we rely on high-pressure experiments to simulate deep planetary processes - and when conditions are too extreme for the laboratory, we depend on accurate numerical geodynamic models to illuminate the physics of planetary interiors and how they affect the geochemistry.

Erik Hauri

Staff Scientist in Geochemistry

Research Program