Erik Klemetti

Erik Klemetti

Associate Professor & Chair (Geosciences)
Position Type 
2009 - 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 does it take 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 question 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, Mineral King in the central Sierra Nevada, and the Okataina Caldera in New Zealand. 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 strong believe in making science accessible to the general public. To that end, I write a blog on volcanism called Eruptions. I distill the sometimes-disparate information out there about current eruptions, discuss volcanic process and features and break down current volcano research so that anyone can understand why its so exciting. The blog is visited by thousands of readers a day that vary from casual readers to seasoned volcano researchers.



Here are a selection of recent research publications if you’re interested in my research:


Guest appearance about baseball and geology on the FanGraphs Effectively Wild podcast.” Klemetti discusses how a major eruption could impact teams like the Seattle Mariners; what climate impacts of an eruption might be; and what it might be like for a new MLB team to try to play in Mexico City, where earthquakes and eruptions are common.