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.

Stable Isotope Laboratory

  • Laboratory PIs Gomes (Sedimentary Geobiologist) and Smith (Field Geologist and Sedimentologist) lead research programs that aim to understand:
    • Co-evolution of life, climate, the ocean, and tectonics
    • Biogeochemical cycling of stable isotopes through the environment
    • Mechanistic links between environmental change and major evolutionary events
    • Early Earth conditions and important Earth-life transitions including extinction events
    • How biological systems pass chemical signatures into the rock record
  • Thermo MAT253 isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) with a dual inlet system and GasBench II peripheral focused on analyzing δ13C and δ18O values of carbonates and dissolved inorganic carbon analyses.
  • Thermo Delta V Plus IRMS fit with an 8-cup collector (extended array for SO-SO2) and EA-Isolink and TC-EA peripherals for analyzing bulk δ13C, δ15N, δ34S, δ33S, D33S, and δ18O values of sediments, soils, and other geological materials.
  • For external sample analysis capabilities, contact lab PIs or lab manager Dana Brenner for details.

Maya Gomes: Comparative Geobiology Lab

Emmy Smith: Smith Lab

Tectonics, Metamorphic Petrology & Orogenesis (TeMPO) Laboratory

  • Laboratory PI Viete (Metamorphic Petrologist) leads a research program that aims to understand:
    • Rifting processes and tectonic inheritance
    • Convergent margin architecture and evolution
    • Crustal thermal environments and their metamorphic record
    • Emergence and evolution of plate tectonics
  • Agilent 8900 triple quadrupole inductively-coupled-plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) with a Teledyne Cetac Analyte G2 193 nm laser ablation system and Agilent SPS 4 solution autosampler.
  • For external sample analysis capabilities, contact lab PI or lab manager Dana Brenner for details.

Daniel Viete- Tectonics, Metamorphic Petrology & Orogeny (TeMPO) Laboratory

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
  • Johns Hopkins University Materials Characterization and Processing Facility
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Geophysical Laboratory
  • Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center