Lauren Harrison, PhD

Lauren is a geologist and geochemist whose research focuses on the application of high-precision measurements of radiogenic, stable, or cosmogenic isotopes and elemental compositions to understanding mantle geochemistry, volcanic processes, and the timing of hazardous volcanic events such as hydrothermal explosions in Yellowstone National Park. 


Yellowstone has one of the largest active hydrothermal systems in the world, and the potential hazard posed by hydrothermal explosions (i.e., forceful eruptions of the vigorously active hydrothermal system that throws rock, mud, steam and boiling water up to four kilometers from the explosion site) is among the greatest hazard posed to the area. The objective of Lauren's current research is to develop a robust methodology to date past hydrothermal explosions and investigate the conditions of hydrothermal basins at the time of these events with the goal of providing a greater understanding of what causes these events and constraining the probability of another hazardous explosion. 

Past Research:

  • the application of non-tradiitonal stable isotopes (Mo, W) to nuclear forensics
  • radiochronometry (i.e., 230Th-234U and 231Pa-235U systems) of nuclear fuel-cycle materials
  • Inventory of 916 Norris Geyser Basin thermal features (hot springs, fumaroles, mud pots, and geysers)
  • Investigation of the composition and evolution of the Hawaiian mantle plume over >47 million years along the Northwest Hawaiian Ridge (2300km) using high precision trace elements, radiogenic and stable isotopes (Li-Pb-Hf-Nd-Sr)
  • The sources of anthropogenic Pb to the Pacific Ocean during the Cenozoic by split-stream trace element and Pb isotope analysis of ferromanganese crusts from Northwest Hawaiian Ridge
  • U-Pb single zircon geochronology and petrology of the Albany Granite of SE Wyoming


  • Ph.D., Geological Sciences, University of British Columbia (2017)
  • B.Sc., Geology with minor in chemistry, University of Wyoming (2011)

Professional Experience

  • Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, 2020-present
  • Postdoctoral Research Staff, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, 2018-2020
  • Geoscientist-in-the-Park, Yellowstone National Park, National Parks Service, 2018
  • Sessional Lecturer, Geochemistry, University of British Columbia, 2016
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Dept. of Earth, Ocean, & Atmospheric Science, University of British Columbia, 2011-2016
  • Scientist, Schmidt Oceanographic Institute Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Leg 2 Bathymetric Mapping Expedition, 2014
  • NAGT Intern, U.S. Geological Survey, 2011
  • NSF EPSCoR Undergraduate Researcher, University of Wyoming, 2010-2011