Under the umbrella of Earth Materials, a variety of research topics are covered. This includes projects involving those faculty members interested in mineralogy, petrology and geochemical studies of Earth materials. The processes that form them, and then modify rocks and minerals, are critical to understanding the evolution of the Earth and other planets. This includes the role of fluids in contact metasomatism, isotopic study of the origin of hypersaline fluids in shield and sedimentary rocks and the role of fluids in subduction zone processes and arc magma genesis. The Department has a wide range of expertise in dealing with terrestrial, extraterrestrial and synthetic materials. LSU faculty and students have access to the analytical tools necessary to solve a wide variety of mineralogical, petrologic and geochemical problems. Current student and faculty research in petrology, mineralogy and materials span from the Earth's surface to deep crust, and even to Mars, and from most recent times to the earliest history of the Earth.
Under the heading of Solid Earth Processes, faculty members have interests in local- and global-scale geophysical and tectonic problems. Geophysics and tectonic studies combine field-based data acquisition and simplification of earth processes through understanding physical principles, and by using comprehensive mathematical and experimental methods. Examples of geophysical interests include gravity, flexure, and rheology of the lithosphere as well as fluid flow and deformation on faults and in the crust. Current tectonic interests include investigations of Archean greenstone belts, of the effects of large meteorite impacts, of the temporal and kinematic evolution of orogenic belts and of the tectonometamorphism of high grade metamorphic terranes.