Welcome to EAPS

From the inaccessible depths of the terrestrial interior to the vast reaches of our galaxy, our planet and the natural systems surrounding it provide important clues to the course of our future. At MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), we examine the history and interactions of these systems in order to predict future events and states with greater accuracy.

Our work encompasses elements of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, geobiology, atmospheric science, oceanography, astronomy, and planetary science. With a department this broad and deep, we are able to apply fundamental scientific principles across traditional borders, leading to rich interdisciplinary collaborations and programs of study. Undergraduate and graduate students alike will reach a more profound understanding of the origin, evolution, current conditions, and future state of the solid Earth, its fluid envelopes, and the complex solar system that encircles us.

eaps in the field and lab

The complementary worlds of EAPS: Researchers and students in EAPS work in the field to collect data and samples. Back in the laboratory state-of-the-art equipment is used to analyze samples for mineralogy, organic and inorganic chemistry, and age.   Here the Discover EAPS students are collecting fossil leaves that were preserved when the landscape was buried in volcanic ash. The volcanic ash yield zircons that can dated using U-Pb geochronology.  Multiple ash beds can be dated and used to reconstruct the history based on paleontology and geochronology.  The mass spectrometer, pictured on the right, is used to analyze the isotopes of Pb and the U/Pb ratio from which precise dates can be calculated.  For example in this case the dates are  95 million years with an uncertainty of < 50,000 years.  

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