Bruce Watson

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Election Year: 1997
Primary Section: 15, Geology
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My research interests focus on the chemical processes of the Earth's crust and upper mantle. In particular, I try to characterize -- mainly through high-pressure/temperature experiments -- those processes operating deep in the Earth to redistribute the chemical elements on scales ranging from micrometers to kilometers. This overarching interest has led to specific studies of several types, including: partitioning of trace elements between minerals, silicate melts and fluids; atomic and molecular diffusion in crystals, silicate melts and supercritical water; equilibrium and kinetic properties of low abundance minerals that sequester geochemically-important isotopes and trace elements; wetting behavior of melts (silicate, carbonate and metallic) and supercritical fluids in rocks; permeability of (and bulk diffusion in) polyphase materials consisting of crystals and fluid; and dissolution kinetics of minerals in silicate melts. Although I approach most of these problems by experimentation, I also try to use the results to develop general conclusions that are both geologically relevant and consistent with the principles of modern materials science. Recently, I have discovered the power (and the dangers!) of simple numerical modeling of geochemical transport processes using the basic data acquired in my laboratory.

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