Michael A. Velbel


Ph.D. Yale
Geochemical kinetics & petrography of mineral-water reactions
Department of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University
'phone (517)353-5273


Research Interests

My students and I study the geochemical kinetics (rates and mechanisms) of mineral-water interactions during rock and mineral weathering, from mineral to landscape scales. Our research emphasizes the geological, mineralogical, geochemical, and geomorphic factors which control mineral alterations at the Earth's surface and the migration of chemical elements through the landscape. Mineralogical and petrographic studies establish textural and paragenetic relationships among primary rock-forming silicates and their weathering products, and help constrain reaction stoichiometries and rate-determining steps. Watershed-scale field studies investigate thermodynamics and kinetics of solute acquisition, and mass balance (input-output budgets) of southern hardwood forest watersheds of the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site. Related areas of research include; rock and mineral weathering and landform/landscape evolution; genesis and history of terrestrial regolith, especially in residual/sedentary landscapes; weathering contributions to global geochemical and sedimentary cycles, ancient and modern; weathering of building and monument stone; mineral weathering and landscape response to acid deposition; dissolution kinetics of halides and other evaporite minerals; terrestrial weathering of Antarctic meteorites; and pre-terrestrial aqueous alteration on meteorite parent bodies and other rocky solar-system objects.

Coweeta Hydro. Lab., Otto, NC

Aerial view of the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, Otto, North Carolina (U.S. Department of Agricultural, Forest Service).

Historical streamflow on Little Tennessee River near Coweeta, 1960-1996 (USGS-WRD)

Prof Bob Bourman (Univ. of South Australia, left) and Prof Mike Velbel (right) inspected some weathered volcanics with Assoc Prof Graham Taylor (University of Canberra, middle) on the Monaro Plain, New South Wales. (Photo by Ian Roach, CRC LEME)

Students from Australia's Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME) and visiting scientist Prof Michael Velbel from Michigan State University, USA (far left), on the Mundi Mundi escarpment near Broken Hill, New South Wales. LEME students and staff have benefited from the visits of a number of prominent national and international scientific visitors in 1997/98. (Photo by Steve Hill, CRC LEME)

SNC meteorite from Antarctica (NASA/JSC)

SNC meteorite from Antarctic Meteorite Collection (NASA/JSC).

ALH84001, the oldest Martian meteorite.

Teaching Activities

I presently teach part of GLG 321 Mineralogy and Geochemistry; GLG/CSS 863 Mineral-Water Interactions; and part of CSS/GLG 825 Clay Mineralogy. I participated in the National Science Foundation Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement Program's Workshop on Teaching Mineralogy, held at Smith College in June 1996, and remain active in the Mineralogical Society of America's Mineralogy Teaching interest group. In conjunction with other faculty from the Departments of Geological Sciences, Entomology, Botany and Plant Pathology, and Sociology, new classes in Earth System Science have been developed as part of the USRA/NASA Earth System Science Education initiative. In the past, I have taught undergraduate courses in Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Geology of the Human Environment, Sedimentology, part of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, and graduate-level classes in Sandstone and Shale and Chemistry of Natural Waters.

Research, Publications & Other Information

Go to:

Michael A. Velbel
Department of Geological Sciences
206 Natural Science Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 46624-1115
'phone (517)353-5273
fax (517)353-8787


This page created 5 June 1996; last updated 15 January 2001.