Project Overview

Geological Origins of the Galapagos Islands

Faculty Sponsor

Karen Harpp (




The goal of this project is to explore the geochemical origins of the Galapagos Islands. This volcanic archipelago is formed by the action of a mantle plume, which we believe originates at the boundary between Earth’s mantle and core. By documenting the composition of material erupted in the Galapagos, therefore, we learn about the interior of the Earth and its dynamic properties. This project involves learning how to use analytical instrumentation (ICP-MS, XRF), measuring geochemical compositions of Galapagos lavas, constructing an archipelago-wide database, and interpreting the data, with the possibility of presenting results at a conference in the next academic year.

Student Qualifications

Ideally, the student will have taken volcanology and/or petrology, but this is not required if they are enthusiastic to learn. This work could be the basis for a senior thesis in geology, if relevant. Most importantly, the student must be enthusiastic, detail-oriented, and want to learn. The Geology Department encourages students interested in summer research to meet with potential faculty supervisors before submitting an application.

Number of Student Researchers

1 student

Project Length

10 weeks

Applications open on 01/15/2017 and close on 02/07/2017

<< Back to List

If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (