Geology and Tectonics
Geologic & tectonic research at UCLA follows a tradition of excellence in the study of the growth and demise of mountain belts, basin analysis, remote sensing, and surficial processes. Our faculty and researchers combine field research with computer modeling, geochemical analysis, geochronology, petrology, and satellite image analysis to understand Earth evolution and the geologic record of plate interactions.
UCLA faculty study the dynamics and physical properties of the interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres of Earth, planets, moons, and other solar system objects. We investigate the convective motions in planetary mantles and cores, the links between the microscopic-scale structure of minerals and planetary scale processes, models of plate dynamics at a range of scales, and the atmospheric, surface, and interior processes in the solar system as revealed by spacecraft missions and ground-based telescopes.
Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry
UCLA geochemists and cosmochemists explore chemical processes at scales ranging from atoms, molecules and unit cells to plate boundaries, mountain belts, whole planets, and the solar system. We seek to understand the origin of our solar system, including its connection with the interstellar medium, the processes that transformed the cloud of dust and gas surrounding the nascent sun into the building blocks of planets, the geologic processes on those early planetesimals, and their accretion to form Earth and planets.
UCLA is recognized internationally as a leader in the plasma physics of space. Research done by the space physics group includes data analysis, simulation, modeling, and theoretical plasma physics. Topics of interest include the dynamics of the solar wind, the magnetospheres of the Earth and planets, and the interaction of the solar wind with bodies in the solar system including asteroids, planetary satellites, unmagnetized planets, and planetary magnetospheres.
Our faculty are internationally recognized as some of the foremost authorities on fault mechanics, earthquake forecasting, seismic imaging, and deep earth structure. Field areas range from downtown Los Angeles to remote Siberia. Within UCLA, we work closely with specialists in tectonics, geodesy, geocomplexity, and applied mathematics to solve recalcitrant problems. We also take advantage of our special geographical location. California is a famous hotbed of earthquake research, with major collaboratories such as the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Here we need only to step outside our doors to see the objects of our research.
UCLA paleontologists are involved in projects spanning the entire fossil record, from the original of life to recent speciation events. Faculty and students are documenting extraordinarily slow rates of evolution among cyanobacteria; establishing and revising the classification, taxonomy and biostratigraphy of Neogene foraminifera; calculating where the iridium anomaly should be in K-T boundary sections; interpreting the evolutionary dynamics and the mechanisms of species flock formation among freshwater African gastropods; producing 3-D computer images of blastoid hydrospires; using molecular techniques to establish the relationships of the chordates and their sister groups; investigating the relationship between sea-level changes and mass extinction; reconstructing the nature and dynamics of proteins and the evolution of complexity; collecting and compiling morphometric data on North American carnivores with aims at interpreting their ecology; studying the paleobiology and paleoecology of late Cambrian molluscs of the western US; documenting the global stratigraphy and taphonomy of the Ediacaran faunas; investigating the origin of molluscs and
Mineralogy of Marcia, the youngest large crater of Vesta: Character and distribution of pyroxenes and hydrated material
© 2014 Elsevier Inc. The young Marcia crater on Vesta displays several interesting features, including pitted and smooth terrains, exposure of relatively bright and dark material, and enrichments of hydrated material in the ejecta. Several questions arise about the origin of Marcia and of the dark material (exogenic material vs volcanic or impact melts) and the smooth and pitted terrains. Here we describe the results of the spectral and thermal analysis of the Marcia crater, with a particular effort to assess the composition of the different units, identifying the presence of OH and its correlation with dark material. Detailed studies of the Marcia crater wall, smooth and floor units reveal a compositional rich terrain with small areas enriched in diogenites with respect to the general eucritic regolith dominating the equatorial region of Vesta. The signature of OH is particularly clear in the pitted floor, dark material, smooth unit, and ejecta. The pitted terrains, beside their appearance, also show thermal anomalies, being colder with respect to the surrounding terrains. The presence of OH, concentrated in darker layers, and the pitted crater floor indicate that the area where the Marcia impact event occurred was rich in volatiles. The results show how the relatively young impact events have modified the surface of Vesta, disrupting a layer of dark material once present on Vesta's equatorial terrain and exposing fresh, bright material rich in pyroxene.