J. Michael Rhodes

Five College Professor
163 Morrill Science Center
(413) 545-2841
PhD 1970 Australian National University
Research Interests: 

Mike Rhodes has been interested in rocks, mountains, and the earth as long as he can remember. Educated initially in England, he began his professional career mapping and studying granites in the outback of the Northern Territory of Australia. Graduate studies followed at the Australian National University, where he used skills acquired in geochemistry and x-ray fluorescence analysis to attack the mysteries of the origin of granites. On coming to the United States, he established an x-ray fluorescence laboratory at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston to analyze the returned lunar samples. As a Principal Investigator in the Apollo Lunar Program, his research focused on the study of lunar samples, particularly the volcanic rocks flooding the lunar mare basins. Recognizing that the techniques being used so effectively to study lunar rocks could be applied beneficially closer to home, he began a study of ocean floor basalts, including lavas dredged from the oceans' spreading ridges and samples recovered from the oceanic crust by the Deep Sea Drilling Project. This research was continued after coming to this University in 1978 as a Five-College Professor in Geochemistry. Being a confirmed Baconian scientist he expanded his work to include the study of active volcanoes. He attempts to relate lava compositions and mineralogy to the historical record of eruption rates and volumes in order to understand quantitatively how a volcano works. Current research includes the study of Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes in Hawaii, Mount Etna in Sicily, and basalts erupted along the Juan de Fuca ridge in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Rhodes also runs the University's x-ray Analytical Facility, one of the leading x-ray laboratories in the country, and a regional center for geochemical research, used by researchers from across the country as well as by faculty and students at this University and the Five Colleges.