Pamela Burnley

Associate Professor

Ph.D. - University of California, Davis: 1990

High Pressure Rock Deformation, Mineral Physics, Metamorphic Petrology, Geoscience Education


Pamela Burnley's Research Group Website


GEOL101 Introductory Geology

GEOL442/642 Geophysics

Mineral Physics 101

Area of Research

My research focuses on two different areas of Geophysics, mineral physics and gamma-ray background radiation. The area of mineral physics that I focus on is the mechanical behavior of rocks at high temperature and pressure and on the interaction between the processes of deformation and metamorphic reaction. I use high-pressure experimentation, in-situ synchrotron x-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopy for analysis of samples, and numerical modeling. In combination, these research tools allow us to better understand the grain-scale processes that control the large-scale mechanical behavior of Earth's materials including those exhibited in mantle convection and earthquakes. Current projects include study of quartz and olivine deformation using synchrotron x-ray diffraction, elastic plastic self-consistent modeling of plastic deformation and finite element modeling of the distribution of stress and strain in deforming polycrystals. My work on gamma-ray background radiation centers on understanding the geologic component of the gamma-ray background and how improving our ability to predict the background can be helpful for homeland security purposes. I am also interested in how high resolution surveys of the gamma-ray background can help us understand surficial processes that impact soil formation such as weathering and eolian addition.