About Phillip D. Ihinger's Work
My group uses geochemical techniques to investigate the geological processes that control the evolution of the Earth. These processes operate on a variety of spatial (and time) scales, ranging from the atomic (using chemical diffusion to quantify the growth rate of minerals) to planetary-wide (using chemical parameters to characterize the nature of mantle convection). Over the last two years, we have focused our research efforts toward answering one of the major outstanding questions in the field of igneous petrology: Why do Earth’s two major magma types (calc-alkaline magmas, responsible for the origin of continental crust, and tholeiitic magmas, responsible for the origin of oceanic crust) have such widely divergent chemical evolutionary paths? The answer is found in chemistry, where small differences exert profound effects on the physical properties that control the dynamics of motion inside their respective evolving magma chambers.