About Morgan Schaller

Schaller_Houtermans 180Morgan Schaller, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA
2018 Houtermans Award medallist

Morgan Schaller is currently an assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, NY. After receiving dual Bachelors degrees in both Geology and Biology in 2005, he moved to Rutgers for an MS in hydrogeology and a PhD in Geochemistry (2012). Schaller’s interests are broadly in the history of the Earth system and changes in climate over long timescales. Morgan uses light stable isotopes to trace the interaction and transfer of elements through the atmosphere, biosphere, and solid earth, specifically linking geologic processes to the carbon cycle. He has investigated the atmospheric effect of ancient, continental-scale volcanic eruptions (Large Igneous Provinces), and subsequent changes in the concentration of greenhouse gases due to chemical weathering. The results of Morgan’s dissertation were published (with Dennis Kent, James Wright, and Paul Olsen) in a series of three papers where he reported (for the first time) clear empirical evidence for: 1) short-term Triassic pCO2 increase resulting from Central Atlantic Magmatic Province volcanism (Science 2011); 2) subsequent long-term pCO2 drawdown through chemical weathering (EPSL 2012); and 3) long-term pCO2 decrease resulting from drift of Pangea into Earth’s humid tropical belt (GSA Bulletin 2015). In 2014, he joined the faculty at RPI and in the following year built their Stable Isotope Lab.

Morgan’s current focus is largely on the changes in the concentration of major and trace atmospheric gases over long timescales with the goal of better understanding what ultimately controls the transfer of gases between the solid earth and the atmosphere. His most recent work is in developing a new analytical method for determining the concentration of gases in the ancient atmosphere using fluid inclusions in soil carbonates, and the discovery of impact ejecta at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (published in Science, 2016), changing our interpretation of that climatic event. With engaging colleagues and an enthusiastic group of graduate students at RPI, he aims to reconstruct the record of, and chip away at, the causes for the evolution of atmospheric oxygen concentrations through Earth’s history, and evaluate the specific climatic effects of large extraterrestrial impacts.

Additional information and a list of publications can be found here.

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