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Mark Schmitz Research

Dr. Mark D. SchmitzMark Schmitz

Professor, Isotope Geochemistry & Geochronology
Department of Geosciences
Boise State University
1910 University Drive
Boise, ID 83725
tel: (208) 426-5907
fax: (208) 426-4061

Ph.D. (2002) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.Sc. (1995) University of Auckland; New Zealand
B.A. (1994) Macalester College; Saint Paul, Minnesota


My research and teaching interests encompass an understanding of the processes associated with the tectonic, geochemical, and thermal evolution of the continental lithosphere. In engaging these interests, I integrate igneous and metamorphic petrology, major and trace element geochemistry, radiogenic isotope and geochronological tools, and thermal and chemical diffusive modeling to probe samples of the continental crust and underlying lithospheric mantle. You can view my list of publications to see some of the results of this work. This research is also incorporated into my teaching, which encompasses undergraduate and graduate-level courses in geochemistry, isotope geology, and geochronology, and their petrologic and tectonic applications.

High-precision geochronological data is vital to addressing a host of questions in the geosciences, particularly those exploring the rates of geological processes, and establishing the causal mechanisms of geological events. Geochronology using radiogenic isotopes thus plays a key role in my research and that of my students working in the Isotope Geology Laboratory.

Here in the Department of Geosciences at Boise State University, we have built a new center of excellence in radiometric geochronology, including both LA-ICPMS and ID-TIMS measurement of the U-Th-Pb chronometers in a variety of accessory minerals like zircon, monazite, titanite, apatite, rutile—complemented by tracer isotope studies using the Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Lu-Hf and U-Th-Pb systems. These methods are applied to a variety of problems in igneous and metamorphic petrology, structural geology and tectonics, paleobiological evolution and paleoclimate change in deep time. Follow the current research links to descriptions of some of these research initiatives…

The cross-disciplinary application of isotope geochemistry and geochronology is a strong growth field in the Earth sciences. If you’re a prospective student interested in gaining expertise in isotope geochemistry and applying isotopic methods to geological and petrological problems, I encourage you to contact me regarding research opportunities in the Department of Geosciences at Boise State University!

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