The Isotope Geology Laboratory is directed by Dr. Mark Schmitz, Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Geosciences. His research interests encompass an understanding of the processes associated with the tectonic, geochemical, and thermal evolution of the continental lithosphere through isotope geology and geochronology, as well as the application of high precision geochronology to constraining paleoclimatic and paleobiological events and processes in the stratigraphic record. More information on his research and teaching program can be found on his faculty website.
Dr. James Crowley, Senior Research Scientist, manages the clean chemistry and mass spectrometry laboratories and provides state-of-the-art U-Pb zircon geochronology to a large cross-section of the geoscience community.
Dr. Crowley earned his B.A. in Geology from Amherst College, and the M.S. and Ph.D. in Geology from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. His main research interests are: (1) Integration of high-precision geochronology, paleontology, and stratigraphy to determine the age of major events for life. For example, dating the end-Permian mass extinction through U-Pb analysis of zircon from volcanic ash beds, with the goal of determining the cause of the extinction. (2) Developing techniques necessary to produce temporal constraints with uncertainties of better than 0.1%, including production of tracer solutions and characterization of zircon age standards that are being distributed worldwide for the purposes of inter-laboratory calibration. (3) Obtaining high-precision dates from small fragments of accessory minerals (zircon, monazite, titanite) that were characterized for composition and zoning by micro-beam methods. Examples of the goals of this work are determining rates of silicic magma generation and the timing of metamorphic events.
Dr. Darin Schwartz, Assistant Research Scientist, is the National Science Foundation Laboratory Technical Support Scientist in the IGL, with responsibilities for training students and visiting scholars in all aspects of isotope geochemistry and mass spectrometry.
Dr. Schwartz earned his B.S. from Lewis and Clark State College (Lewiston, ID), a M.S. in Geology at the University of Idaho, and the Ph.D. from Boise State University, working under Dr. Dorsey Wanless. During his dissertation Darin studied the detailed construction of the Galapagos Plateau through the distribution, geochemistry, and isotopic signatures of underwater seamounts. As a postdoc he further explored basalt petrogenesis in mid-ocean ridge settings through stable and radiogenic isotope studies, including high-precision double-spike Pb isotopic measurements.
As the NSF Laboratory Technical support scientist, Darin provides support for instrument and method development, student and visiting scholar training, experimental design, and novel analytical development, in addition to pursuing studies in both modern and ancient basalt petrogenesis and the evolution of the solid Earth.
Debbie Pierce, Laboratory Technical Manager, maintains the mineral separation and rock preparation laboratories. Debbie also manages the undergraduate research associates, and trains all students and visiting scholars in mineral separations and geochemical sample preparation.
Debbie earned her B.S. in Geology from Boise State University in 2004, and has over 15 years of experience in geochemical and paleontological preparation methods.