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Alberto Saal

Associate Professor:
Geological Sciences
Phone: +1 401 863 7238


I received both a B.S. and a Ph.D. degree in Geology from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. After a postdoctoral fellowship and two years as a Storke-Doherty Lecturer in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and as Associate Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, I joined the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown University in 2003.


The focus of my research group is to determine the origin, scale, composition and evolution of the heterogeneity in the Earth's and Moon's mantle using isotope, major, trace and volatile element geochemistry. One of the simplest ways of mapping the heterogeneity in the mantle is using the geochemistry of erupted basalts and mantle peridotites. However, to extract the deep mantle signature from basalts and mantle rocks we must first evaluate the effect that the interaction between melts and the oceanic lithosphere plays in modifying the composition of oceanic island and mid-ocean ridges basalts and massif peridotites. Recycling processes at subduction zones are considered one of the most important means of generating heterogeneity in the mantle. Thus, we have to understand the role that subduction dynamics plays on regulating the distribution of slab, mantle and crustal components between the volcanic arc and the deep mantle. Our research combines field and laboratory work for the collection and analysis of radiogenic isotope (Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf and U-series) and major, trace and volatile contents of basalts, phenochrysts and melt inclusions. Our analytical work utilizes state-of-the-art instruments such as electron and ion microprobe, thermal ionization mass spectrometer, and multi-collector inductively-coupled-plasma mass spectrometer, either using sample solution or in-situ laser ablation.


Ph.D. Summa cum Laude. Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, 1993

"Ruth and Paul Fye Best Paper Award". Best student paper for the period 1996-2000 from the Department of Geology and Geophysics, WHOI, 2003


American Geophysical Union
Geochemical Society


GEOL 0160: First Year Seminar: Volcanoes, Windows Into the Deep Earth
GEOL 0230: Geochemistry: Earth, Planetary Materials & their Processes
GEOL 1420: Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

GEOL 2730: Isotope Geochemistry

GEOL 2740: Advanced Topics in Geochemistry

GEOL 2910: The Role of Volatile in Magmatic Processes

GEOL 2920: Evolution of the Moon 

Current Graduate Students:

Benjamin Parks
Mary Peterson
Kei Shimizu
Diane Wetzel

Former Graduate Students:
Alison Koleszar, ScM '08
Corinne Myers, ScM '08
Ashley Nagle, ScM '08

Funded Research

NSF Ocean Sciences-0335310 "Deconvolving the Galapagos Plume" Period: 4/1/03-1/31/06

NSF Earth Sciences-0403107 "The Galapagos Plume Geodynamics, A Geochemical Approach" Period: 6/1/03-5/31/06

NSF Ocean Sciences-0527152 "Sampling Basalts in the Quebrada-Discovery-Gofa Transform Fault System: Testing Models of Mantle Flow and Melt Transport" Period: 1/1/06-12/31/09. This proposal included support for Research Experience for Undergraduates, which made possible to integrate four Freshmen, from the course taught by Saal, in the research cruise and to support their Group Independent Study at Brown University.

NASA Cosmochemistry "Abundance and Distribution of Volatile Elements (CO2, H2O, F, S and CI) in the Lunar Picritic Glasses" PI: Saal. Period: 4/1/07-3/31/10

NASA LASER "In Search of the Primitive Volatile Content of Lunar Magmas" Period: 8/15/08-8/14/11

NSF EAR-0810191 "Collaborative Research: the Geodynamics of the Andean Southern Volcanic Zone, A Geochemical Approach" Period: 7/1/08-6/30/2011.

NASA Lunar Science Institute Cooperative Agreement Notice "The Moon as Cornerstone to the Terrestrial Planets: The Formative Years" Period 1/1/09-12/31/2012. Proposal Pending.

Web Links

Curriculum Vitae

Download Alberto Saal's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format