Pamela Burnley

Associate Research Professor

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

High Pressure Rock Deformation, Geophysics, Metamorphic Petrology, Geoscience Education


Pamela Burnley's Research Group Website


GEOL442/642 Geophysics

Mineral Physics 101

Area of Research

Projects in my group span a range of geomaterials science and geophysics topic. On the geomaterials side we are focusing on understanding the mechanical behavior of rocks at high temperature and pressure and studying interaction between the processes of deformation and metamorphic reaction. We use a combination of high-pressure experimentation, in-situ synchrotron x-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopy for analysis of samples, and numerical modeling to gain a better understanding of 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. Another focus of research in my group is on predicting the distribution of natural occurring gamma-ray background radiation originating from geologic sources. Predictive background maps are valuable in the event of a disaster for nuclear first responders who need to distinguish between variations in natural gamma-ray background radiation and radioactive contamination. Recent projects include studying the distribution of radioisotopes over the Navajo Sandstone, predictive mapping of radioisotopes over Cameron, AZ, Black Rock Desert Volcanic field, Utah, Government Wash, Lake Mead, NV and Lake Mohave, NV.