Michelle Muth

Assistant Professor
Department of Earth and Space Sciences
College of the Environment
Michelle Muth Research

What is your Research Focus?

I use the chemistry of volcanic rocks to study how magmas form beneath volcanoes. One of the most exciting aspects of Earth Sciences is that the discovery of plate tectonics was relatively recent! This means that we have so much to learn about how the movement of Earth’s plates connects to the volcanism we see at Earth’s surface. We also have a lot to learn about where and how magmas are stored prior to volcanic eruptions.

My expertise within these broader questions is the role of volatile elements like water, carbon, and sulfur. These elements are present only in trace quantities in magmas, but are key players in our ability to monitor volcanic eruptions, predict the location of ore deposits, and understand the behavior of volcanoes. To study these volatile elements I use melt inclusions. Melt inclusions are small parcels of magma that get trapped in crystals as magma chambers cool. If that magma chamber later erupts, those trapped melt parcels can cool to glass. Once that happens, these melt inclusions become incredibly interesting ‘fossils’ of the magma chamber prior to eruption.


Melt inclusion within a volcanic olivine crystal



What opportunities at the UW excite you?

I am very excited to join the vibrant intellectual community of UW! The opportunity to conduct research and train students in the midst of so much passion and talent is incredibly energizing. I also look forward to building relationships within the broader Seattle community.