12.479 | Spring 2013 | Graduate

Trace-Element Geochemistry


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


Permission of instructor.


The course consists of a series of lectures introducing the field of Trace Element Geochemistry including a review of partition coefficients and theoretical approaches to understanding trace element partitioning during partial melting and fractional crystallization. Throughout the course, lectures are interspersed with papers that are to be read by students and discussed during class. A listing of papers to be discussed is included but unfortunately the interactive class discussions emerging from reading these papers cannot be reproduced in a Web-based course.

Expected Background

This course is oriented toward a first year graduate student who has already had a general course in Geochemistry and an Introduction to Thermodynamics.


There are several textbooks suitable for an introduction to geochemistry; an example is:

McSween, H. Y., Jr. S. M. Richardson, and M. E. Uhle. Geochemistry: Pathways and Processes. Columbia University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780231124409.

There are also numerous texts on thermodynamics. The books suitable for this course are:

Wood, B. J., and D. G. Fraser. Elementary Thermodynamics for Geologists. Oxford University Press, 1977. ISBN: 9780198599272.

Denbigh, K. The Principles of Chemical Equilibrium. Cambridge University Press, 1981. ISBN: 9780521236829.

Gordon, P. Principles of Phase Diagrams in Materials Systems. Krieger Pub Co., 1983. ISBN: 9780898744088.

For this course the following geochemical texts are useful:

Shaw, D. M. Trace Elements in Magmas: A Theoretical Treatment. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780521822145. [Preview with Google Books]

Zou, H. Quantitative Geochemistry. Imperial College Press, 2007. ISBN: 9781860946462. [Preview with Google Books]

Albarede, F. Introduction to Geochemical Modeling. Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780521454513. [Preview with Google Books]

Rollinson, H. R. Using Geochemical Data: Evaluation, Presentation, Interpretation. Routledge, 1993. ISBN: 9780582067011. [Preview with Google Books]

Henderson, P. Inorganic Geochemistry (Pergamon International Library of Science, Technology, Engineering and Social Studies). Pergamon Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780080204482.

Also useful for this course is the 10 volume set comprising the Treatise On Geochemistry (Elsevier, 2003), especially volumes 1, 2, and 3.

Holland, H. D., and K. K. Turekian, eds. Treatise On Geochemistry. Elsevier Science, 2003. ISBN: 9780080437514.

Listing of Volumes

Davis, Andrew M. Meteorites, Comets, and Planets. Vol. 1. Elsevier Science, 2006. ISBN: 9780080447209.

Carlson, Richard W. The Mantle and Core. Vol. 2. Elsevier Science, 2005. ISBN: 9780080448480.

Rudnick, Roberta L. The Crust. Vol. 3. Elsevier Science, 2005. ISBN: 9780080448473. [Preview with Google Books]

Keeling, Ralph K. The Atmosphere. Vol. 4. Elsevier Science, 2006. ISBN: 9780080450919.

Drever, James I. Surface and Ground Water, Weathering, Erosion and Soils. Vol. 5. Elsevier Science, 2005. ISBN: 9780080447193. [Preview with Google Books]

Elderfield, Harry. The Oceans and Marine Geochemistry. Vol. 6. Pergamon, 2006. ISBN: 9780080451015. [Preview with Google Books]

Mackenzie, Fred T. Sediments, Diagenesis, and Sedimentary Rocks. Vol. 7. Elsevier Science, 2005. ISBN: 9780080448497. [Preview with Google Books]

Schlesinger, William H. Biogeochemistry. Vol. 8. Elsevier Science, 2005. ISBN: 9780080446424.

Lollar, Barbara Sherwood. Environmental Geochemistry. Vol. 9. Elsevier Science, 2005. ISBN: 9780080446431. [Preview with Google Books]

Volume 10: Indexes.

Also Useful are the Following Web sites

Geochemical Earth Reference Model (GERM)

Geochemistry of Rocks of the Oceans and Continents (GEOROC)

Petrological Database of the Ocean Floor (PETDB)

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2013