Susan L. Brantley, Distinguished Professor of Geosciences, investigates chemical, biological, and physical processes associated with the circulation of aqueous fluids in shallow hydrogeologic settings. She is particularly interested in the critical zone – the zone from the top of vegetation canopy to groundwater. Investigations incorporate field and laboratory work, and theoretical modelling of observations. Of particular interest are questions concerning the measurement and prediction of the rates of natural processes, including chemical weathering with and without micro-organisms. Recent work has focused on the effect of microbial life on mineral reactivity, and measuring and modelling how rock turns into regolith.

Ongoing projects directed or co-supervised by Brantley are listed below. Students are encouraged to write brantley@eesi.psu.edu to inquire about any of these projects or others not listed here.

  • Coupling between weathering and erosion
  • Chemical, physical, and biological weathering in the Critical Zone Observatory
  • Chemical, biological, and physical weathering in the Virginia Piedmont
  • Neutron scattering analyses of weathering rocks
  • Reactive transport modelling of weathering

The Water-rock Interaction Laboratory, directed by Brantley, is one of many laboratories across the Penn State Campus which focuses on Environmental Chemistry and Geochemistry. These facilities include state-of-the-art instrumentation in the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Laboratories. Brantley advises students in Geosciences and in the Dual Degree in Biogeochemistry. Grad applicants are encouraged. A current initiative at Penn State is the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory.  Grads are encouraged to apply to work at Shale Hills, especially on inter-related aspects of chemical, physical, and biological weathering. Brantley is also the Director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) at Penn State. EESI fosters interdisciplinary environmental research and education within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and across the PSU campus.

Watch a video “Slices of Time: Times Scales of the Environment” which was produced as part of the Center for Environmental Kinetics Analysis project.

Creative Commons License


Slices Of Time by Susan Brantley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.