A main research interest of Steve's is how Earth's continents formed. His past, current and future studies reflect the diversity of continental rocks, encompassing a range of studies such as continental volcanic rocks, ancient and present subduction zones, crust-mantle evolution now and in the past, the mantle keels to the continents, and rocks from the present oceanic mantle -an analog to pre-continental, oceanic mantle of the Hadean to Paleoarchean (4500 to 3200 million years ago).
The study of continents using the deepest-derived samples (xenoliths in kimberlite) led to Steve's recent interest on diamonds. Diamonds and their inclusions are rare specimens that usually come from the mantle keels of continents at depths greater than 150km. But a small fraction derive from greater depths including the mantle transition zone and the top of the lower mantle. Diamonds and their inclusions afford a remarkable chance to study mantle mineralogy, the migration of carbon-bearing fluids and melts, and pressure, temperature, and redox conditions in the deep mantle. A particular contribution of Steve’s is to use patterns of diamond formation age, inclusion mineralogy, and location relative to geologic setting to extract large-scale constraints on continent evolution and mantle geodynamics.
Select the Research menu above to read about Steve's research areas. Select the Facilities and Opportunities menu to learn about the analytical capabilities at DTM and its visitor and postdoctoral fellowship programs.
PhD 1984, Geochemistry, SUNY Stony Brook
MS 1975, Geology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
AB 1972, Geology, Dartmouth College
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM)
Carnegie Institution of Washington
5241 Broad Branch Road, NW
Washington, DC 20015 USA
Office phone: (202) 478-8473
Cell phone: (301) 792-9083
FAX number: (202) 478-8821
E-mail address: sshirey_at_carnegiescience_dot_edu
Skype name: stevenshirey
Featured Journal and Review Articles
These figures represent the wide range in scale that research on continents involves, from the large scale to the microscopic. The left panel shows correspondence of diamond type with seismic structure of the Kaapvaal craton. The middle panel is a field photograph of an Archean mantle xenolith hosted in diamondiferous lamprophyre from Wawa, Ontario. The right panel is a sulfide inclusion in rough diamond (~3 mm across) from Orapa, Botswana. Click on the ‘Research’ tab above for more details on these images.
Recent Lectures and Activities
click on an article for a link to its PDF, click on
The Second International Diamond School,
"The Nature of Diamonds
and their Use in Earth's Study"
January 27-31, 2015
F Nestola, DG Pearson, SB Shirey
(click here to view PDF summary)