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Jay Thomas

Jay Thomas

Assistant Professor,
Earth Sciences

011a Heroy Geology Laboratory

Research and Teaching Interests

The majority of my research focuses on using laboratory-based experiments to reproduce conditions that exist on or in the Earth to make crystals, melts and rocks.  Field-based studies form an important complementary research component that guides laboratory experiments and provides ‘ground truth’ information.  The ultimate goal of my research is to determine what processes produced the geochemical variations that are observed in earth materials.  Experiments are typically conducted over a range of P–T conditions applicable to the Earth’s crust and upper mantle.  The experimental research can be broadly grouped into two themes: equilibrium investigations of rocks and minerals (chemical and microstructural) and diffusion in materials.  Both research themes are used to characterize mass transport in planetary systems. 


Dynamic Earth (EAR 110)

Students and Research Associates

William Nachlas (Research Associate)

Ellen Was (MS Student)

Michell Ladig (MS Student)


High pressure-temperature equipment: The Experimental Geochemistry Lab at Syracuse is equipped with three piston-cylinder devices (T up to 1800°C; P up to 50 kbar); one internally-heated pressure vessel (T up to 1200C; P up to 10 kbar); six cold-seal pressure vessels for hydrothermal experiments (T up to 1200C; P up to 2 kbar); three one-atmosphere furnaces with base-metal windings (suitable for sustained use up to ~1100°C); one one-atmosphere furnace with MoSi2 heating elements (for temperatures up to ~1550°C).

Heating/cooling microscope stages: Materials (fluid inclusions, glass, etc.) can be studied using a Linkam THMSG600 heating cooling stage (-196 to 600C°) and controller components that are attached to an Olympus BX53 microscope.

Supporting Facilities: The experimental lab is supported by complete facilities for preparing starting materials and high-pressure assemblies, and has equipment for sectioning and polishing specimens.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy Microscope system: A Bruker Vertex 70 Fourier transform infrared spectrometer and Hyperion infrared microscope system will be installed in co-PI Thomas’ laboratory in March 2015.  The FTIR system will have infrared ‘light’ sources and detectors capable of measuring vibrational frequencies of molecules in the mid- to near-infrared spectral regions of materials (solid, liquid, or gas).  The IR beam can be transmitted or reflected on spots down to ~15 µm.

Selected Publications

Thomas JB, Watson EB, Spear FS, Wark DA (2015) TitaniQ recrystallized: experimental confirmation of the original Ti-in-quartz calibrations. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, accepted

Thomas JB, Watson EB (2014) An experimental study of Mg diffusion in grain boundaries of quartzites. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 168:1068

Spear FS, Hallet BW, Thomas JB (2014) Overstepping the garnet isograd: A comparison of Quig barometry and thermodynamic modeling. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 168:1059

Lanzillo NA, Thomas JB, Nayak S, Watson EB (2014) Pressure induced phonon engineering in metals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 111:8712–8716

Cherniak DJ, Thomas JB, Watson EB (2014) Neon diffusion in olivine and quartz. Chemical Geology 371, 68-82

Lanzillo NA, Watson EB, Thomas JB, Nayak S, Curioni A (2014) Near-surface controls on the composition of growing crystals: Car-Parrinello molecular dynamics (CPMD) simulations of Ti4+ energetics and diffusion in alpha quartz. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 131, 33-46.

Ashley KT, Webb LE, Spear FS, Thomas JB (2013) P-T-D histories from quartz: A case study of the application of the TitaniQ thermobarometer to progressive fabric development in metapelites, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, doi: 10.1002/ggge.20237.

Spear FS, Ashley KT, Webb LE, Thomas JB (2012) Ti diffusion in quartz inclusions: implications for metamorphic timescales. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 164, 977–986.

Thomas JB, Watson EB (2012) Application of the Ti-in-quartz thermobarometer to rutile-free systems.  Reply to: A comment on: 'TitaniQ under pressure: the effect of pressure and temperature on the solubility of Ti in quartz' by Thomas et al. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 164, 369–374.

Leeman WP, MacRae CM, Wilson NC, Torpy A, Lee C-T A, Student JJ, Thomas JB, Vicenzi EP (2012) A Study of Cathodoluminescence and Trace Element Compositional Zoning in Natural Quartz from Volcanic Rocks: Mapping Titanium Content in Quartz. Microscopy and Microanalysis 18, 1322–1341.

Behr WM, Thomas JB, Hervig RL (2011) Calibrating Ti concentrations in quartz on the SIMS using NIST silicate glasses with applications to the TitaniQ geothermobarometer. American Mineralogist 96, 1100–1106.

Trail D, Thomas JB, Watson EB (2010) The incorporation of OH into zircon. American Mineralogist 96, 60–67.

Thomas JB, Watson EB, Spear FS, Shemella PT, Nayak SK, Lanzirotti A (2010) TitaniQ under pressure: the effect of pressure and temperature on the solubility of Ti in quartz. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 160: 743–759.

Clay PL, Baxter EF, Cherniak DJ, Kelley SP, Thomas JB, Watson EB (2010) Two diffusion pathways in quartz: A combined UV-laser and RBS study. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74, 5906–5925.

Cherniak DJ, Watson EB, Thomas JB (2009) Diffusion of helium in zircon and apatite. Chemical Geology 268, 155–166.

Thomas JB, Watson EB, Cherniak DJ (2008) Lattice diffusion and solubility of argon in forsterite, enstatite, quartz and corundum. Chemical Geology, 253, 1–22.

Watson EB, Thomas JB, Cherniak DJ (2007) 40Ar retention in the terrestrial planets. Nature 449, 299–304.

Severs MJ, Azbej T, Thomas JB, Mandeville CW, Bodnar RJ (2007) Experimental determination of H2O loss from melt inclusions during laboratory heating: Evidence from Raman spectroscopy. Chemical Geology 237, 358–371.

Watson EB, Wark DA, Thomas JB (2006) Crystallization thermometers for zircon and rutile. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 151, 413–433.

Thomas JB, Bodnar RJ, Shimizu N, Chesner C (2003) Melt inclusions in zircon. In: Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, 2003, 53, pp.63–87. Society of America and Geochemical Society : Washington, DC, United States.

Thomas JB, Bodnar RJ (2002) A technique for mounting and polishing melt inclusions in small (<1 mm) crystals, American Mineralogist 1505–1508.

Thomas JB, Bodnar RJ, Shimizu N, Sinha AK (2002) Determination of zircon/melt trace element partition coefficients from SIMS analysis of melt inclusions in zircon, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 2887–2901.

Thomas JB, Sinha AK (1999) Field, petrographic, geochemical, and isotopic characterization of the Quottoon Igneous Complex, S. E. Alaska and N. W. British Columbia, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 36, 819–831.

Thomas JB (1994) Mangrove vegetation detection using remote sensing and image processing techniques, Proceedings of the Eighth National Conference on Undergraduate Research 699–703