Albrecht W. Hofmann

Max Planck Institute for Chemistry


Election Year: 1999
Primary Section: 15, Geology
Membership Type: Foreign Associate

Research Interests

As a geochemist, I use the abundances of trace elements and the products of natural, long-lived radioactive decay in rocks and minerals to study the evolution of the Earth's mantle and crust. Solid mantle convection transports mantle rocks from deep within the Earth to depths that are shallow enough so that they can start to melt. This allows us to sample the deep mantle and examine its isotope and trace element chemistry. Melting processes also form both oceanic and continental crust, some of which is recycled into the mantle by a process called subduction. I have been particularly interested in the recycling process, using trace elements and isotopic "fingerprints" to trace the prehistory of mantle-derived volcanic rocks. Some years ago, I suggested that recycled oceanic crust plays an important role in this process, and more recently, helped to identify specific types of recycled crustal material that can be found in mantle plumes that are believed to form chains of volcanic islands such as Hawaii. I have been particularly interested in the recycling process, using trace elements and isotopic "fingerprints" to trace the prehistory of mantle-derived volcanic rocks. Some years ago, I suggested that recycled oceanic crust plays an important role in this process. More recently, I have helped to identify specific types of recycled crustal material that can be found in mantle plumes that are believed to form chains of volcanic islands such as Hawaii.

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