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School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
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Jeff Marsh

Assistant Professor
Structural Geology/Petrology/Tectonics

Science Building, Room E206
Phone: 718-997-0454

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Research Interests
My research is focused on gaining a quantitative understanding of the physical and chemical processes operating at deep levels within Earth’s crust in tectonically active regions. Some of my main areas of interest include: investigating the mechanisms of crustal deformation and strain localization, the kinetics of chemical transport and metamorphic reactions, the thermal evolution of deep crust through an orogenic cycle, and the transfer of energy, in all its forms, from the mantle to the surface. The western Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada, which represents the middle to lower crustal levels of a Himalayan-sized orogen formed during the Mesoproterozoic assembly of the Rodinia supercontinent, serves as an ideal natural laboratory for investigating deep crustal dynamics. Thus, my research involves field-based mapping and data collection, as well as extensive laboratory based study utilizing cutting edge-analytical tools, and addresses a range of important topics within the fields of structural geology, metamorphic petrology, geochronology, geochemistry, and continental tectonics.
  1. Deep crustal dynamics and high pressure metamorphism within a large, hot orogen
    This project investigates the genesis and tectono-thermal evolution of high pressure rocks found within the strongly deformed gneisses that comprise the lower to intermediate structural levels of the western Grenville Province. The research integrates field-based mapping and structural data with quantitative modeling of metamorphic assemblage evolution and associated garnet zoning profiles, zircon U-Pb and garnet Lu-Hf geochronology, and existing geophysical data. The timing and duration of high pressure metamorphism and subsequent exhumation across the strike of the orogen has important implications for understanding the progression of thickening and tectonic burial of continental crust, and lithosphere-scale geodynamics attending collision.
  2. Grain-scale deformation mechanisms, fluid-rock interaction, and metamorphic reactions in localizing strain at high grade metamorphic conditions
    Detailed structural mapping and petrological analysis of mafic lenses (i.e. eclogites, coronitic metagabbros, and metanorthosites) preserving strain and reaction gradients within high strain shear zones enables investigation of their rheological behavior both relative to their host rocks and internally with changing P-T-afluid conditions. This project is a continuation of a long-term research effort focused on interactions among metamorphism, deformation, and chemical transport within deep crustal high strain zones.
  3. Thermal evolution of deep crustal rocks from garnet major and trace element zoning and diffusion modeling
    The preservation of compositional zonation within large garnet crystals enables investigation into their growth and resorption history, and can yield information on the duration of high temperature residence and rate of exhumation and cooling. Numerical models simulating intracrystalline diffusion related to the relaxation of characteristic growth zoning patterns (e.g. Rayleigh distillation-type for Mn, Y, or HREE) or compositional gradients generated along the outer margins of crystals due to partial resorption enable the temperature-time relationships associated with various parts of a rocks thermal evolution to be determined. The results can be integrated with other structural, petrological, or geochronological data to yield a more detailed understanding of deep crustal dynamics.
  4. Accessory mineral stability and trace element partitioning among coexisting phases
    Throughout each of these projects we are gaining information on important accessory minerals chronometers (e.g. zircon, monazite, titanite, rutile, etc.), including the P-T conditions and metamorphic reactions involved in their of growth and dissolution, variations in their trace element composition, and other relevant petrological characteristics. One of the major objectives is to develop more quantitative linkages between the radiometric ages obtained from accessory minerals and their corresponding metamorphic assemblages, reactions, and conditions.
Teaching Philosophy and Interests
My courses typically incorporate (1) fundamental concepts that provide a framework for the topic, (2) discussion of new ideas and observations relevant to the topic, and (3) a strong component of interactive learning. Interactive learning can take many forms, ranging from a periodic ‘pinging’ of the students with thought provoking questions throughout a lecture to unique exercises designed to illustrate important concepts. Often times an excursion outside of the basic course materials (e.g. a field-based exercise, an assignment investigating a recent geological event, or conducting a simple experiment) can elevate a student’s level of interest, while demonstrating the utility and application of fundamental concepts. These types of interactive exercises commonly lead to a deeper understanding of natural processes and can spark academic curiosity.
I also like to incorporate physical and numerical modeling exercises into the course curriculum where possible, and encourage students to use various forms of modeling to develop a deeper understanding of important concepts or broaden the scope and impact of their research. Students also conduct small research projects that help to crystallize the concepts taught in lectures and generate additional enthusiasm for the topic. Final presentation of the project results can build technical writing and oral communication skills that are invaluable for a career in scientific research and in the private sector.
Along with the fundamental information and interactive exercises described above, my courses commonly incorporate a substantial field component that complements the lecture material and lab exercises. A solid background in field geology is a necessary ingredient for developing a thorough understanding of geologic processes and the significance of certain rock types, mineral assemblages, and structural features. Queens College’s close proximity to a wide variety of rock types and structural features within the northeastern Appalachians provides an ideal setting for field-based exercises and instruction.

    Courses taught

    GEOL 16: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Moving Continents
    GEOL 214: Earth’s Internal Processes
    GEOL 261: Geology in the Field

    Selected Publications

    Marsh, J.H., Culshaw, N.G. and Gerbi, C.C., 2013. On the timing and conditions of poly-phase metamorphism within the Twelve Mile Bay Shear Zone: Implications for the evolution of a mid-crustal decollement zone and western Grenville tectonics. International Geology Review, 55, 525-547.
    Marsh, J.H., Grew, E.S., Gerbi, C.C., Yates, M.G and Culshaw, N.G., 2012. The petrogenesis of the garnet menzerite-(Y) in granulite-facies rocks of the Parry Sound domain, Grenville Province, Ontario. The Canadian Mineralogist, 50, 73-99.
    Marsh, J.H., Gerbi, C.C., Culshaw, N.G., Johnson, S.E., Wooden, J.L. and Clark, C., 2012. Using zircon U-Pb ages and trace element chemistry to constrain the timing of metamorphic events, dike emplacement, and shearing in the southern Parry Sound domain, Grenville Province, Canada. Precambrian Research, 192, 142-165.
    Culshaw, N.G., Gerbi, C.C., Marsh, J.H. and Plug, L.J., 2011. Heterogeneous amphibolite facies deformation of a granulite facies layered protolith: Matches Island shear system, Parry Sound domain, Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada. Journal of Structural Geology, 33, 875-890.
    Marsh, J.H., Culshaw, N.G., Gerbi, C.C., Potter, J., Longstaffe, F. and Johnson, S.E., 2011. Initiation and development of the Twelve Mile Bay Shear Zone: The low viscosity sole of a granulite nappe. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 29, 167-191.
    Grew, E.S., Marsh, J.H., Yates, M.G., Lazic, B., Armbruster, T., Locock, A., Bernhardt, H.J. and Medenbach, O., 2010. Menzerite-(Y), a new garnet species, {(Y,REE)}(Ca,Fe2+)2}[(Mg, Fe2+)(Fe3+, Al)](Si3)O12, and two new components in garnet, {Y2Ca}[Mg2](Si3)O12 and {Y2Ca}[Fe2+2](Si3)O12. The Canadian Mineralogist. 48, 1171-1193.
    Culshaw, N.G., Gerbi, C.C. and Marsh, J.H., 2010. Softening the Lower Crust: Pegmatites and Syn-Transport Formation of a Ductile Sheath Around a Deep Crustal Granulite Nappe, Parry Sound Domain, Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada. Tectonics, 29, TC5013.
    Gerbi, C.C, Culshaw, N.G. and Marsh, J.H., 2010. Magnitude of weakening during crustal-scale shear zone development. Journal of Structural Geology, 32, 107-117.
    Johnson, S.E., Lenferink, H.J., Marsh, J.H., Price, N.A., Koons, P.O. and West, D.P., Jr., 2009. Kinematic vorticity analysis and evolving strength of mylonitic shear zones: new data and numerical results. Geology, 37, 1075-1078.
    Johnson, S.E., Lenferink, H.J., Price, N.A., Marsh, J.H., Koons, P.O. West, D.P., Jr. and Beane, R., 2009. Clast-based kinematic vorticity gauges: the effects of slip at matrix/clast interfaces. Journal of Structural Geology, 31, 1322-1339.
    Marsh, J.H., Johnson, S.E., Yates, M.G. and West, D.P., Jr., 2009. Coupling of deformation and reactions during mid-crustal shear zone development: an in-situ frictional-viscous transition. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 27, 531-553.
    Johnson, S.E., Marsh, J.H. and Vernon, R.H., 2008. From tonalite to mylonite: coupled mechanical and chemical processes in foliation development and strain localization. Journal of the Virtual Explorer, 30, 11.


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