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John Mustard

Geological Sciences
Phone: +1 401 863 1264
Phone 2: +1 401 863 2417

The central themes that run through my research are the processes that modify solid surfaces and the spatial and temporal scales that control environmental processes on the Earth. Because surfaces lie at the interface between the solid interior of a planet (from the shallow subsurface to the deep interior) and the fluid exterior (atmosphere, hydrosphere, etc.), their composition and morphology record the interesting interplay between interior and exterior processes.


I received my B.S. with Honors in 1983 from U. British Columbia and my Ph.D in 1990 from Brown University. Following postdoctoral research in the Department, I was appointed W. M. Keck assistant professor (research) in 1991 after a nationwide search. My interests in the applications of remote sensing have been integral to the Department's interdisciplinary work with Environmental Sciences, the Environmental Change Initiative and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) joint program.


I am interested in the composition of planetary surfaces and the surface processes that modify them. A key interest recently has been Mars where I and my students and colleagues have developed a new paradigm for the evolution of Mars. Based on new European and NASA spacecraft data, we show that during the earliest period of Mars, prior to 3.8 billion years ago, abundant phyllosilicate formation occurred. This implies that clement environments existed (temperature, pH) that would have been supportive of habitable environments. Subsequently Mars became colder and drier leading to an era of sulfate formation which then transitioned to a very dry era with only minor alteration minerals formed.

My environmental science program is focused on Land Use-Land Cover Change (LULCC) research. This is an interdisciplinary field seeking to understand the intersection of human activity and natural processes in the transformations occurring on the Earth's surface. Understanding these questions requires contributions from economics, demography, sociology, earth science, and ecology and I've been developing the contacts necessary to push the research agenda forward. This will clearly benefit from the Environmental Change Initiative as well as the MBL-Brown program.


B.Sc. Geological Sciences (Honors), May 1983, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. CANADA M.Sc.Geological Sciences, May 1986, Brown University, Ph.D.Geological Sciences, May 1990, Brown University.


Member, American Geophysical Union, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Member of Space Studies Board Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX), 9/98-8/02 and Decadal Survey (6/01-6/02). Member, NASA Space Science Advisory Committee (SScAC), 2002-2005. Chair of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, 2007-2009, Member, NASA Science Definition Team for Mars '05 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, 2000-2001. Secretary for the Planetary Sciences Section of AGU and member of the AGU Fall Program Planning Committee, 2000-2002. Spacecraft Mis-sions: Member of the Earth Observer 1 Science Team; Co-I on the OMEGA instrument on the Mars Express Space-craft, Deputy PI Compact Resolution Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) on the Mars Reconnaissance Or-biter. Co-organizer of Fall AGU Special Sessions 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007


Sigma Xi (1992)
American Geophysical Union
American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Alliance for Marine Remote Sensing
American Association for the Advancement of Science


GEOL 0160 C: First Year Seminar: Global Environmental Change
GEOL 1330: Global Environmental Remote Sensing
GEOL 2330: Advanced Remote Sensing

Current Graduate Students:
Kevin Cannon
Tim Goudge
Rebecca Greenberger
Marc Mayes
Stephanie Spera
Xi Yang

Former Graduate Students:
Bethany Bradley, Ph.D. '06
Hongwei Chen, Sc.M. '01
Christopher Cooper, Ph.D. '04
Bethany Ehlmann, Ph.D. '10
Andrew Elmore, Ph.D. '03
Jeremy Fisher, Ph.D. '06
Teresa Garcia, Sc.M. '08
Gillian Galford, Ph.D. '10
John Hays, Sc.M. '95
Lisa Kanner, Sc.M. '06
Lin Li, Ph.D. '02
Ralph Milliken, Ph.D. '06
Leah Roach, Ph.D. '09
Mark Salvatore, Ph.D. '13
John Roma Skok, Ph.D. '13
Stephanie Tompkins, Ph.D. '97 (co-advised w/Carle Pieters)
Janette Wilson, Sc.M. '12

Funded Research

Active Grants:

NASA: The Moon as a Cornerstone to the Terrestrial Planets: The Formative Years (Carle Pieters, PI)

NASA: Geologic Characterization of Phyllosilicate Deposition on Mars

NASA: Liaison Activity Between Omega and CRISM Instrument Teams

NASA: Hydration and Mineral Abundance from Reflectance Spectroscopy

National Science Foundation (NSF): Disaster, Resilience and the Built Environment on the Gulf Coast (John Logan, PI).

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): Liaison Activity Between Omega and CRISM Instrument Teams.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): Hydration of Geological Materials from Reflectance Spectroscopy.

Web Links

Curriculum Vitae

Download John Mustard's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format