The Earth is a dynamic planet. Throughout its four and a half billion year history, magmas generated in the mantle have created the crust, which in turn has been mixed back into the mantle by subduction. The decay of radioactive elements in rocks imparts fingerprints that we use to understand how these processes work, and to determine the timing of events.
These fingerprints are among the most versatile geological tracers. Their applicability extends across the spectrum of the Earth sciences and is limited only by our creativity and imagination. Among the most exciting aspects of isotope geochemistry is that we are neither "hard-" nor "soft" rockers, neither "Quaternary-" nor "Archean" geologists.
At Lamont, we are using isotopic tracers in studies ranging from deep Earth processes and evolution to Quaternary climate change. Our igneous studies include the history of continental growth as well magma formation processes at ocean ridges, ocean islands, and island arcs. Low-temperature studies include tracing element fluxes in the present-day oceans and through time, and quantifying the timing of climate change through dating of sediments only thousands of years old. The next decade promises to be the most exciting yet as new analytical techniques will extend our arsenal of isotopic tracers.
I found Lamont to be an amazingly exciting place to be a Ph.D. student, and this is why I returned as a faculty member when the opportunity arose. Its combination of great intellectual breadth and range of resources and friendliness make a great environment for research and education.