Steven Jacobsen

Steven Jacobsen

Associate Professor
Email: steven at
Location: Tech F297/F298

Ph.D. Geophysics; University of Colorado
M.S. Geology; University of Colorado
B.A. Geology; University of Colorado

Research Website


Professor Jacobsen is a mineralogist specializing in experimental mineral physics, which applies atomic-scale structure and physical properties of materials to understand global-scale processes in solid-Earth geophysics and geochemistry, planetary science, as well as high-pressure physical chemistry and materials science.

Using diamond-anvil cells, Jacobsen investigates how pressure modifies fundamental properties of materials such as structure, bonding, and elasticity, with emphasis on the role of defects in crystals. Hydrogen defects in minerals, stabilized at high pressures of the deep mantle, could represent the largest geochemical reservoir of H2O in the Earth and influenced the evolution of our habitable planet. Using high-pressure ultrasonic methods, he is developing tools for remote detection of water in the mantle from seismic imaging of the Earth’s interior.  

Other topics in Jacobsen’s lab include properties of novel superhard materials for future technological applications, elastic properties of glasses, spectroscopy of planetary ices, and the role of hydrogen, carbon, and other volatiles in Earth and planetary materials and processes.


EARTH-102: The Future of Renewable Energy
EARTH-300: Earth and Planetary Materials
EARTH-300: Petrology: Evolution of Crustal and Mantle Rocks
EARTH-438: Advanced Topics in Geophysics: Water in the Solar System
EARTH-438: Advanced Topics in Geophysics: Mineral Physics From Crust to Core

Selected Publications

Crowhurst, J.C., J.M. Brown, A.F. Goncharov and S.D. Jacobsen (2008) Elasticity of (Mg,Fe)O through the spin transition of iron in the lower mantle. Science, 319, 451-453.

Goncharov, A.F., V.V. Struzhkin and S.D. Jacobsen (2006) Reduced radiative conductivity of low spin (Mg,Fe)O in the lower mantle. Science, 312, 1205-1208.

Goncharov, A.F., B.D. Haugen, V.V. Struzhkin, P. Beck and S.D. Jacobsen (2008) Radiative conductivity in the Earth's lower mantle. Nature, 456, 231-234.

Lin, J.F., G. Vanko, S.D. Jacobsen, V. Iota, V.V. Struzhkin, V.B. Prakapenka, A. Kunznetsov and C.-S. Yoo (2007) Spin transition zone in Earth's lower mantle. Science 317, 1740-1743.

Jacobsen, S.D.(2006) Effect of water on the equation of state of nominally anhydrous minerals.Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, 62, 321-342.

Research Interests

  • Mineral Physics
  • Solid-Earth Geophysics and Geochemistry
  • Mineralogy and Petrology

Steven Jacobsen Photos

Gem-diamonds as superhard transparent anvils

View of single-crystal silicate spinel (blue) inside a hard rhenium gasket

Crystal of Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet between a pair of tweezers

October 1, 2012