Economic Geology

Mineral, water and fossil fuel resources

Economic Geology encompasses several areas within the geosciences. Here at IU, researchers from the Department of Geological Sciences and the Indiana Geological Survey are involved in a variety of projects that deal with the genesis of natural resources. Primary research projects are in the areas of metallic mineral resources, fossil fuels, and non-metallic industrial minerals. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of Economic Geology, virtually all of the researchers here at IU also have links in geochemistry, geobiology, petrology, or geophysics and tectonics.

Simon Brassell

Professor of Geological Sciences. Molecular and isotopic characteristics of organic matter. Biogeochemical processes. Paleoclimates. Biochemical evolution. Petroleum Carbon cycling.

Research is in molecular organic geochemistry and the development of molecular tools in the evaluation of depositional environments and paleoclimate analysis. Particular applications in Economic Geology are the identification of petroleum source rocks and evaluation of processes responsible for petroleum formation and accumulation.

James G. Brophy

Professor of Geological Sciences and Director of Undergraduate Studies. Chemical and physical processes of magmatic crystallization and differentiation. Origin and geochemistry of layered intrusions and lavas. Experimental petrology.

Research interests are in the areas of igneous petrology and volcanology. He is involved in experimental studies relating to metal solubility in mafic magmas and the distribution of metals between alloys, sulfide minerals, silicate minerals, and melt.

Erika Elswick

Senior Lecturer and Director, Analytical Geochemistry Laboratory. Stable isotopes in sedimentary environments and ore deposits. Metals in the environment. Tropical soils. Low temperature hydrothermal rock–water interactions. Microbial activity.

Research interests include the relationship between sulfur and organic carbon in sediment-hosted sulfide deposits, use of stable isotopes of sulfur and carbon in understanding hydrothermal systems and influences from fluids and host rock in a given system, and the relationships between sulfates (barite) and sulfides in ancient and modern marine hydrothermal systems.

Chusi Li

Senior Scientist and Director of the Electron Microprobe and XRD Facility. Petrogenesis and tectonic settings of mafic and ultramafic rocks.

Research centers on ore-forming processes in dynamic magmatic systems, microbeam analytical techniques, thermodynamic modelling applied to ore deposit research, and chemical dating of mineral deposits.

Maria Mastalerz

Research Scientist/Coal Geologist, Indiana Geological Survey. Adjunct Faculty: Geological Sciences. Coal geology. Petrology and chemistry of coal, kerogen and bitumen. Coalbed methane and carbon dioxide adsorption. Stable isotopes. Properties of coal combustion products.

Coal and organic petrography (reflected light microscopy) and coal and maceral chemistry. Coal geology and sedimentology. Coalbed methane potential and its controls (research involves field core description, sample collection, canister desorption, coal characterization, and gas-in-place calculations). Anthropogenic organic matter from coal-combustion and steel and coke plant emissions in modern sediments. Role of hydrogen and nitrogen in kerogen maturation processes. Development and application of new analytical techniques to study organic matter in-situ (for example, light element quantification using the electron microprobe, or micro-Fourier-Transform-Infra-Red spectroscopy, FTIR). Associations between organic matter and metals.

Ed Ripley

Professor of Geological Sciences. Genesis of metallic ore deposits. Applications of stable isotopic geochemistry in petrology. Igneous and hydrothermal processes on metals. Thermodynamic/kinetic modeling.

Research interest include the genesis of metallic ore deposits and the application of stable isotopic geochemistry to petrologic problems. Processes of ore formation in sedimentary, hydrothermal, and magmatic environments are all under investigation using a combination of analytical, theoretical, computational, and experimental methods.