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Department of Mineral Sciences

Izalco Volcano

  • Elizabeth Cottrell
  • Geologist - Curator-in-Charge, Rock and Ore Collections
  • Phone:   (202) 633-1859
  • Fax:   (202) 357-2476
  • E-mail Address:   cottrelle atsiedu
  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 119
    Washington, DC 20013-7012
  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th & Constitution NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0119


  • Ph.D. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (2004)

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding the long-term evolution of the planet, from the mechanism and chemical signature of planetary core formation 4.5 billion years ago, to the surface expression of Earth’s interior today at volcanoes around the globe. To do this I investigate materials like rocks, oxides and metals, under deep Earth conditions of high pressure (sometimes exceeding a megabar) and high temperature (sometimes exceeding 4000 degrees centigrade), either in my own laboratory or at Department of Energy Facilities using specialized equipment. I also look at natural volcanic rocks from the oceans and continents and try to measure and understand their chemical signatures in terms of Earth history and processes. In the last decade my research has focused heavily on quantifying the oxidation state of iron in natural and experimental systems and figuring out what it can tell us about planetary interiors and magmatic processes.


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