Jeffrey Vervoort elected 2024 Geochemistry Fellow

Jeffrey Vervoort
Jeffrey Vervoort

In recognition of his research to advance understanding of the Earth’s crust, geology Professor Jeffrey Vervoort has been elected as a 2024 Geochemistry Fellow by the Geochemical Society and European Association of Geochemistry.

“This award is particularly gratifying because the Geochemical Society and European Association of Geochemistry make up my closest scientific community, and therefore this award represents recognition from my scientific peers,” said Vervoort, who joins 15 others from an international field elected this year as Geochemistry Fellows.

A professor in the School of Environment at WSU, Vervoort’s work spans wide-ranging interests in the formation and evolution of the Earth.

Vervoort received the honor and recognition for his work “advancing the use of Hf isotope geochemistry and geochronology in understanding of the Earth and the solar system, particularly the evolution of the continental crust and the mantle.”

“My main scientific interest is the origin and evolution of the Earth and how it has evolved through time. An important part of this is the evolution of the continents and how this, ultimately, relates to the evolution of life on our planet,” said Vervoort.

Hf isotopes are used as a geochemical tracer that can help identify the sources of different Earth materials and the past histories of those materials. The Lu-Hf isotope system can also be used to determine the ages of certain rocks and minerals.

Vervoort is director of the WSU Radiogenic Isotope and Geochronology Laboratory, one of only a few facilities in the world where scientists determine the origin and age of rocks, minerals, and meteorites through the application of Hf isotopes and other isotope geochemical tools.

In his research, Vervoort looks for evidence of how “continental crust has evolved through time and, in particular, the record of how the continents have amalgamated and broken apart during various plate tectonic cycles to form the continental masses.”

For example, Vervoort and graduate student Manuela Botero are examining rock samples from Zimbabwe and Brazil that include some of the oldest known samples of the Earth’s crust.

“There are very few preserved rocks on Earth with ages older than 3.5 billion years…. [These] rocks in Zimbabwe and Brazil are a very important part of this global inventory,” said Vervoort.

This spring he is on sabbatical working along the southern coast of Western Australia to gather “evidence on how the western part of Australia was assembled during the period of 2.6 to 1.1 billion years ago” — an experience that advances his research and will enrich his teaching and mentoring activities at WSU Pullman.

The Geochemical Society was founded to support the use of geochemistry as a means to better understand the Earth and solar system and to foster an international community of geochemists. Geochemistry Fellows are elected annually, and the honor is awarded to outstanding scientists with a body of work that has contributed significantly to the field of geochemistry.

By Christina Mancebo, College of Arts and Sciences, for WSU Insider.