Aqueous Geochemistry

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Professor William E. Seyfried

Ph.D., 1977, University of Southern California


443 Tate Hall





Research Interests

My research largely involves studies designed to understand better geochemical processes controlling the chemical evolution of natural fluids in and on the Earth. Accordingly, the research group in aqueous geochemistry uses experimental, theoretical and field-based approaches to develop process oriented information for mineral-fluid systems at a wide range of temperatures and pressures. Recent and continuing research projects, which illustrate application of these approaches, include:


  • Dynamics of Yellowstone Lake (DYLAKE): Integrated, multi-disciplinary research to model the response of hydrothermal systems to multi-scale perturbations (climatic, tectonic, and magmatic).
  • Seafloor hydrothermal systems: Experimental and field studies of iron-, sulfur-, and hydrogen transport in deep sea vent fluids.
  • Fluid-mineral reaction experiments: Experimental and theoretical studies with implications for reactive transport modeling at the pore scale.
  • Seafloor serpentinization in modern and ancient oceans: Integrated field, experimental and theoretical approaches with implications for microbial metabolism and evolution.  
  • Samplers and sensors: Development and deployment of autonomous and remotely operated chemical sensor (pH and redox) systems with integrated laboratory and field studies.


A common theme throughout includes development and application of new technologies to measure, monitor and control key components in aqueous fluids. Although largely focused on chemical and physical processes affecting the modern ocean, recent research has expanded to consider how these and related processes operated in oceans throughout geological time, with influence on metal budgets and microbial reactions. Recent experiments have also been conducted to examine fractionation of non-traditional isotopes of Fe and sulfur to better constrain reaction conditions and microbial and inorganic sources in natural aquatic systems. Important new insight on reactive transport models on the pore scale has been recognized from recent experiments as well, with implications for reactions and processes associated with sequestration of carbon dioxide in subsurface geological formations and governing heat and mass transfer in sub-lacustrine hydrothermal vent on the floor of Yellowstone Lake. Thus, research in aqueous geochemistry in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota has both basic science and applied research opportunities, with strong emphasis on creatively combining experimental, analytical and theoretical approaches.


Bill Seyfried