Mark Kurz first heard about the MIT/WHOI Joint Program from a professor at the University of Wisconsin where he was an undergraduate chemistry major. He enrolled in the Joint Program in the fall of 1976, first working with MIT scientist John Edmond. Mark’s interest in volcanoes was sparked by participation with Edmond in the 1977 cruise to the Galápagos spreading center that gave scientists their first close-up look at seafloor hydrothermal vents. He went on to do his thesis research on helium in seafloor volcanic rocks, advised by Bill Jenkins.
Following completion of his Ph.D. program, Mark spent a year and a half at the University of Paris and then returned to WHOI in 1983 as an assistant scientist. His current research focuses on the occurrence of noble gases (including helium and neon) in oceanic intraplate volcanoes and the use of cosmic ray-produced nuclides for dating geologic events and rock formations.
Mark chaired the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department from 1999 to 2003. He says his fondest WHOI moments have been time spent at sea and in the field collecting rock samples for laboratory studies, work that has taken him from Iceland to Patagonia and Antarctica, as well as to the warmer climes of Hawaii and the Galápagos Islands.