The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is housed in Olin Hall, nestled on a wooded hillside on the western edge of the Homewood campus. Its facilities include instrumentation, a departmental library, and modern computer equipment. There are laboratories for experimental petrology, crystallography, evolutionary biology/ecology, and fluid and solid mechanics. A JEOL 8600 electron microprobe in Olin Hall is available to all members of the department.


  • Computer-controlled Buehler image analysis system
  • Laboratory for sectioning rocks
  • Substantial collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils
  • Facilities for a wide spectrum of fluid mechanical experiments, including thermal convection and solidification

Mineralogy and Crystallography

  • Two transmission electron microscopes (TEMs)
  • Modern specimen preparation laboratories, which house instruments capable of both high-resolution imaging at the atomic cluster scale and X-ray microanalysis of areas a few tens of nanometers in diameter
  • Instruments for single-crystal, X-ray diffraction, and focused ion-beam milling (FIB) for site-specific, TEM sample preparation at the nanometer scale

Stable Isotope Laboratory

  • Thermo MAT 253 mass spectrometer equipped with eight Faraday channels for measurement of singly and multiply substituted gas isotopologues
  • Offline vacuum extraction lines
  • Thermo TraceUltra gas chromatograph with FID and TCD detectors
  • Custom-built common acid bath device for analysis of carbon, oxygen, and “clumped” isotopes in carbonates and bioapatites

Soil Ecology Lab

  • Two large Percival incubators for controlled laboratory experiments
  • Field and laboratory facilities at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center are available for collaborative research

Soil Sensor Lab

  • Weather station
  • Many CO2 sensors
  • Tools and computer facilities to assemble and test custom electronics in-house
  • Testbeds for sensor deployment include the JHU campus and the urban AmeriFlux tower in north Baltimore.


The department contains several computer laboratories containing clusters of workstations and personal computers, together with printers and scanners. Computer capabilities include:

  • Numerical simulations
  • Graphics applications
  • Data manipulation
  • Word processing

Field Studies

Field studies and excursions form an integral part of the program of instruction and research in geology and are closely integrated with the laboratory and course work. Situated at the fall line between the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont and only an hour’s ride from the Blue Ridge and Appalachians, Baltimore is an excellent location for a department with a field-oriented program in geology. The department has a permanent field station for geological research, Camp Singewald, in the Bear Pond Mountains of Washington County, Maryland, and a vehicle for field use.

Supporting Facilities

  • Milton S. Eisenhower Library
  • Space Telescope Science Institute
  • High-Performance Computing Center
  • Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Geophysical Laboratory
  • Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center