Erik Klemetti

Erik Klemetti

Associate Professor
Chair of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Geosciences
Position Type
- Present

I’m a volcanologist/petrologist and I teach classes on the rocks and minerals that make up the planet, along with the magmatic processes that lead to volcanic eruptions. I’ve been fascinated by geology since I was young, either with the vast mineral collection my grandmother in Massachusetts had collected or with the vistas of Nevado del Ruiz from my grandparents home in Colombia. Every rock (or crystal) does tell its own story, and that is what geologist do: unlock the history recorded in the rocks. That is how I like to teach geology – by looking at the process the created the rock and then how we see the record of that process imparted on the physical and chemical characteristics of the rocks and crystals. In that way, geology tells us about the dynamic events that have created the Earth and will change the planet far into the future. I am also interested in how humans interact with geology, specifically how we alter the surface environment when exploiting the multitude of resources within the Earth. If you’re interested in any of these topics, contact me via email or on Twitter (@eruptionsblog).

B.A., Williams College; Ph.D., Oregon State University



My research focuses on volcanism and magmatism, both modern and ancient. I examine these processes by looking at the information recorded in crystals erupted in lavas and ash. By measuring the ratios of radioactive isotopes in these minerals, you can answer questions about the timescales of magmatic processes at volcanoes, such as how long it takes to generate a body of magma, how long can you store magma in the crust and what are the rates of eruptions during the lifetime of a volcano. All of these questions lead us to a greater understanding of what happens under a volcano before an eruption.

Currently, I have active research projects at Lassen Peak in northern California, Mt. Hood in Oregon, and Mineral King in the central Sierra Nevada. I have had students work with me on these research projects, leading to presentations at major geology meetings and co-authorships on research papers. If you’re interested in working with me, send me an email.

I also strongly believe in making science accessible to the general public. To that end, I write a blog on geology called Rocky Planet. I distill the sometimes-disparate information out there about the geology of Earth (and other planets) so that anyone can understand why it is so exciting. The blog is visited by thousands of readers a day that vary from casual readers to seasoned geologists. This work has lead me to be part of Denison’s Journalism program and have students interested science communication work with me to hone their skills and explore how to write compelling science.



Here are a selection of recent research publications if you’re interested in my research (* indicates a student co-author):


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