Geochemistry and Petrology of Earth Systems

The research focuses on deciphering processes shaping the interior of the Earth. Processes act from the sub-micron to the planetary scale. The major areas of research are on (i) igneous processes forming the continental and oceanic crust, (ii) metamorphism, fluid-rock interaction, kinetics and mineral reactions in orogenic environments, (iii) in-situ characterization of isotopic compositions of crystals, fluids and melts, (iv) continent forming processes such as due to mantle heterogeneity and its consequences on volcanic products, and (v) element cycling between the deep Earth, the crust, and the near surface geosphere. A combination of fieldwork, state-of the art laboratory analysis, experimental and computational approaches is used to solve complex problems in the Earth interior.

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The Aiguilles Rouges d'Arolla (Western Alps) represents the youngest oceanic core complex in the European Alps. It comprises a preserved segment of Jurassic-aged (ultra) slow-spreading Western Tethys ocean floor. From left to right: The highest peak in the background is cumulate gabbro; the reddish peak is formed of gabbro mylonite; the greenish rocks represent deformed metamorphosed basalts; the grayish-brownish rocks on the right are metamorphosed calc-schists (schistes lustrés); the rocks in the foreground (in front of the lake) are serpentinite scree. (Picture from O. Müntener).

Permanent research team

Igneous petrology

Prof. Othmar Müntener

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Othmar Müntener’s research focuses on the origin and evolution of the lithosphere.  Main interests include field studies related to igneous processes,  timescales of magmatic processes, experimental studies on igneous crystallisation, formation of continental crust in subduction related magmatic arcs,  formation and evolution of ocean-continent transition zones. 

His research is multidisciplinary and includes fieldwork, petrology, experimental petrology, and major and trace element geochemistry. 



Prof. Sébastien Pilet


The origin of intraplate volcanism is the main subject of Sébastien's research. What is the source of alkaline basalts? Is the melting mechanism associated with the genesis of these basalts related to tectonic processes or to large "hot spots"? To try to answer these questions, he combines different constraints from the field, to geochemistry, to experimental studies.

Lines of research: Igneous petrology, intraplate volcanism


Metamorphic petrology

Prof. Lukas Baumgartner


Lines of research: Metamorphism, mineralogy, geochemistry



Prof. Johanna Marin Carbonne

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Her research focuses on the biological and environmental evolution of the surface conditions of the primitive Earth. It combines a detailed mineralogical approach with high spatial resolution analyses of traditional (oxygen, carbon, sulfur) and non-traditional (silicon and iron) stable isotope by ion probe (SIMS). Her research tends to reconstruct quantitatively the surface conditions of the primitive Earth and to better understand the evolution of life during this period.

Johanna is Head of Laboratory in the SwissSIMS national facility, which is a part of the Center for Advanced Surface Analysis (CASA) platform (UNIL/EPFL).

Lines of research:

  • Primitive Earth
  • Stable isotopes
  • Carbonates
  • Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry



Prof. François Bussy


Lines of research:

  • Geochronology
  • Isotope geochemistry
  • Petrology
  • Mineralogy 


Associated research center

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Center for Advanced Surface Analysis

The Center for Advanced Surface Analysis (CASA) is a common UNIL/EPFL platform hosted in the Geopolis building of University of Lausanne. This Swiss research center offers to a broad range of scientists the state-of-the-art micro-analytical Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometric (SIMS) instruments for chemical and isotopic characterization of solid matter.

Géopolis - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 43 06
Fax +41 21 692 43 05