Igneous Petrology and Volcanology

The Igneous Petrology and Volcanology research groups in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at Northern Illinois University are very active in field, laboratory and analytical studies.  Our research groups are centered in experimental petrology, volcanology and the use of major, minor, and trace element geochemistry in addressing petrologic questions.   Our current research thrusts are diverse and include:  across-arc geochemical studies, pre-eruptive magmatic volatile contents, Ar-Ar dating of young volcanic rocks, serpentine dehydration kinetics in subduction zones, mantle wedge metasomatism, Cu-Au-Fe partitioning at high-temperatures in magmatic-hydrothermal systems, mineral-fluid alteration reactions, and mineral solubility studies.  We encourage cross-disciplinary studies between the research groups and our experimental equipment and analytical instruments provide the required tools to address many research areas in igneous petrology and volcanology.

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, environmental, analytical and/or engineering sectors of the job market.


  • Mark Frank - experimental mineralogy, geochemistry of planetary interiors, hydrothermal geochemistry
  • Jim Walker - volcanology, geochemistry of subduction zones, igneous petrology 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, an environmental scanning electron microscope and a microprobe are available for mineral characterization.