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The primary focus of the Climate & Earth Surface Geochemistry Group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD is to understand and reconstruct the geochemical evolution of Earth’s surface. We apply radiogenic and non-traditional stable isotope geochemistry to gain new insight into processes that shape this evolution. Below are some of the examples of projects we are currently funded to work on.

13 Ice Core_Illuminated.jpeg

Geochemical techniques to determine paleo dust provenance and transport pathways


Isotope systems as tracers of weathering and geologic history


Tracing modern dust sources and composition

Research Focus

One of the main goals in our research group is to provide a more mechanistic understanding of processes that shape Earth surface geochemistry in the modern so that we can accurately interpret past records . Within our current research group, we focus on dust (fine grained mineral particles), sediment originating from dry, arid environments (deserts) or from retreating glaciers, and modern and ancient rocks.

Our group is interested in answering questions such as: How much dust is transported to an ecosystem, and how does it influence the biogeochemical cycling in this location? Can variations in the composition and size of dust preserved in ice core records inform us about changes in regional climate or ice sheet extent? How does sediment sourced from retreating glaciers and permafrost degradation affect nutrient fluxes to downstream environments in the sub-Arctic? Does human activity (climate and land use change) influence the composition of metals transported to the environment? What can new isotope systems (such as stable titanium isotopes) tell us about fundamental processes occurring at and below Earth's surface?

To answer these questions, our group uses an array of geochemical and isotopic techniques along with physical measurements to inform us on source(s), formation mechanism, and nutrient content. We conduct a significant amount of fieldwork depending on the research area and project ranging from Alaska to Antarctica discussed in more detail here. Our research requires clean lab chemistry and isotope analysis on a variety of mass spectrometers.

The Climate & Earth System Geochemistry group is led by Dr. Sarah Aarons, and is currently funded by the National Science Foundation.


Contact Us


Geosciences Research Division
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr #0220
La Jolla, CA 92093-0220


Location: 3173 Sverdrup Hall

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