Don DePaolo has been teaching and conducting research at University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1988. He is the Director of the Center for Isotope Geochemistry, a joint-institution research center at both UC Berkeley and LBNL, and holds the Class of 1951 Chair as professor of geochemistry.
Over Don's academic career he has mentored more than 40 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who have gone on to rewarding careers in academia, industry, and government.
He also serves as a senior manager at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory--currently Director of the Earth Sciences Division and Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environmental Sciences and the Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Sciences (read more about his LBNL roles).
Don's research interests:
- Understanding how isotopes of elements like Ca, Mg, C, O, and Li are fractionated as minerals like calcite precipitate from natural waters.
- Measuring the past environmental conditions in the oceans and atmosphere with isotopes
- How magma is generated in the Earth and how magma generation controls the behavior of volcanoes.
- The origin of mantle plumes such as the Hawaiian plume and what it reveals about the deep Earth
- How continental crust is formed and modified in continental collision zones, focusing on the most dramatic of active continental collisions on the Earth (the Himalaya and Tibet)
- Observing fluids as they flow through groundwater systems and interact with surrounding rock (also applied to studying contaminants traveling in groundwater)
- Using U-series isotopes to measure the origin and transport history of sediments
- Examining isotopic compositions of old ocean sediments and their pore fluids to understand how to interpret evidence about ancient climate
- Studying difficult-to-date rocks, from young lavas to ancient continental rocks, to determine their age using novel methods of geochronology
Application of mass spectrometry, radiogenic isotope geochemistry, and principles of physics and chemistry to fundamental problems in geology.