Economic Geology

The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at Northern Illinois University has many research programs in the broad area of Economic Geology. Our students are very active in field, laboratory and analytical studies with most research being conducted in experimental petrology, mineralogy, and geochemistry. Current research topics include: Cu-Au-Fe partitioning at high-temperatures in magmatic-hydrothermal systems (porphyry type deposits), Pt, Pd, and Cu partitioning between a silicate and sulfide melt (mineralization in layered mafic intrusions), Au in sulfide minerals (Carlin trend to porphyry deposits), mineral-fluid alteration reactions (epithermal to porphyry systems), and mineral solubility studies (MVT deposits).  The Department’s experimental equipment and analytical instruments allow for world class, cutting edge research in Economic Geology.

Graduate students are trained in field, experimental, analytical, spectroscopic, and geochemical laboratory techniques.  This approach leaves them well prepared for additional graduate study, or for an assortment of jobs in the mining, analytical and/or engineering sectors of the job market.


  • Mark R. Frank - economic geology, experimental petrology, mineralogy, and geochemistry

Research Facilities

The Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences houses a host of analytical equipment for petrologic and geochemical analyses and experiments.  The high pressure geochemistry and petrology lab uses diamond anvil cells to study geochemical processes in high temperature and pressure environments, whereas the hydrothermal geochemistry lab uses a variety of tube furnaces and hydrothermal vessels to study mineral-fluid reactions at elevated temperatures.  Mass spectrometers (including a LA-ICP-MS system for documenting trace metals in fluid and melt inclusions), an environmental scanning electron microscope and a microprobe are available for mineral characterization.