Paleoceanographers examine deep-sea sediment materials to extract climate signals from the trace metals in microfossils, that occur at concentrations on the order of parts per billion.
Study of ice-shelf disintegration in warming climate. This animation shows an iceberg detachment rift on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica.
Spectrometer being loaded aboard a NASA aircraft in preparation for a flight to explore the chemistry of Earth's stratosphere.
The depth differential due to centrifugal force acts as the beta effect (earth's sphericity).
Paleontological field work with Prof. Mark Webster.
Graduate student field assistants recover an automated camera system on the lip of an iceberg detachment rift on Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica.
Diamond cell apparatus for study of earth materials at deep-earth pressures.
A test of graduate student dedication: can you spend a night in an igloo you just constructed? See a video of snow-craft and survival training that researchers who work in Antarctica must attend.
Students put the faculty to work. Michael Foote collecting lower Paleozoic fossils for Shanan Peters (PhD 2003) and trimming specimens with portable rock saw in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana.
We see our planet from a different perspective. The Earth is an extraordinarily complex system that defies reduction to the perspective of a single research discipline. We thus seek the insight available at the interdisciplinary junctures between the chemical, physical, and biological sciences. We work toward the center of the rings shown below to gain new understanding of our planet's patterns, processes, and place in the cosmos.
Our Research Philosophy
Our common emphasis is upon emerging problems, techniques and observations that have the capacity to transform understanding of the earth, its biota, and its place in the cosmos. We emphasize the process of discovery and integration of ideas over the maintenance of disciplinary knowledge and its boundaries. This has led our department to become extremely diverse in its composition and activity as exemplified by the breadth of scientific inquiries: paleobiology and paleontology, Earth materials and chemistry, geophysical processes of planetary interiors, climate and paleoclimate, oceanography, meteorology, glaciology, cosmochemistry and solar-system nebula dynamics, extra-solar climatology, stratospheric chemistry and flow, early earth surface geochemistry and clouds. Our success in defining Earth's dynamics and phenomena goes back over 100 years, and is perhaps best exemplified by the roles our students have played in the history of Earth sciences throughout the 20th century.
While presenting a range of research experiences that exceed the confines of our departmental name, we foster the exchange of ideas and methods, and give our students and research colleagues an opportunity to solve problems that cannot be pursued elsewhere.
Research Groups and Centers
A description of our research in generally organized areas (solids, fluids and paleo) is provided by the links on the left. The strength of the Department lies in its interdisciplinary inquiries on many aspects of the planet earth. The breadth of the subject is reflected in the list of our research units below, but there are many cross-cutting activities that blur the boundaries of these groups and that place each component in a broader context of the earth system science.
• Climate and Global Change
• Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry
• Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Other Geophysical Fluids
• High Pressure Geophysics
• Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry
• Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
• Paleontology and Evolution
• Solid Earth and Planetary Sciences
The department is the focal point for graduate student instruction and research, and is the principle degree-granting entity within the University for Earth science related subjects. There are several other centers and scholarly organizations (called "committees" at the University of Chicago) that engage in cross-disciplinary research interaction among several departments. Here is a list of some of these organizations:
Other Associated Organizations
Our faculty, research scientists and students are engaged in lively collaborative research efforts with colleagues from around the world. Here are some of the organizations most commonly involved in collaborative research:
• Field Museum of Natural History
• Adler Planetarium
• Museum of Science & Industry
• Argonne National Lab
• NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
• NASA/Johnson Space Center
• NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
• National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)