Geology & Geophysics (G&G) Department


The Department of Geology and Geophysics (G&G) conducts research into a wide variety of topics. We study the structure and evolution of the oceanic crust from its formation at mid-ocean ridges to consumption at subduction zones, coupled with the dynamics of the mantle that drives seafloor spreading. We study a wide range of fluid-mediated processes, including those occurring at hydrothermal vents, at shelf-edge seeps and in subduction zone settings. Included in these processes are links to seismicity, fluxes of chemicals to the ocean and mantle, microbial activity and the subseafloor biosphere. We study the role of oceans both in relation to past climate change and as a driver of present day climate dynamics, and use sediment records and foraminifera to understand past climate. We study a wide range of coastal processes including the impacts of climate change and storms on coastal regions. Finally, although we are an oceanographic institution, we carry out work on land to understand connections between the continents and oceans, ice-sheet dynamics and the formation and evolution of continents.

The Department today consists of about 30 Ph.D. level Scientific Staff and another 16 Technical Staff (many of whom hold Ph.D. degrees). In addition there are about 25 graduate students pursuing their Ph.D. through the WHOI/MIT Joint Program and roughly 8 Postdoctoral Scholars, Fellows and Investigators. 

The Scientific and Technical staff carry out research that involves sea-going deployments of instruments built in house; laboratory studies using high precision analytical facilities; and theoretical and computational studies of ocean and climate processes and geodynamics. Examples of the facilities within the department include the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (NOSAMS) and the Northeast National Ion Microprobe Facility (NENIMF). We contribute instruments to the Ocean Bottom Seismic Instrumentation Pool (OBSIP).

Rob Evans
Department Chair
Geology & Geophysics Department