Volcanoes + Gems + Petrology



Our group is fascinated by the conditions of magmas that trigger eruptions, as well as the volcanic processes of eruptive ascent and emplacement. We also study crystals — igneous, metamorphic, and gemstones. We use information preserved within crystals to understand petrologic and tectonic processes.

Magmatic ascent rates

We are using high temperature experiments to determine how faithfully pockets of glass in quartz, features called melt embayments, record the decompression histories of rhyolitic melt ascending volcanic conduits. 


PhD student Roy Bassoo is leading a project to characterize the origin and provenance of diamonds from the Guiana Shield using compositional analyses, crystal morphology, and Raman thermobarometry. 

See a video of Roy's work.

Stress in crystals

We are using synchrotron X-ray microdiffraction (μXRD) to analyze crystal lattice deformation in crystals ejected in volcanic eruptions. We want to learn what geologic processes strain crystals.


See a Baylor promo video.



Our lab contains a high temperature experimental petrology system. The lab is also home to FTIR and Raman spectrometers, petrographic tools, and high powered computing.  


2020 Crystallization model for microlites

We share a Matlab model that predicts the nucleation and growth of plagioclase during magmatic ascent. This tool is built upon experimental results and can be used to better understand natural textures observed in volcanic rocks. 

South Coulee.png

The sizes and distributions of blocks and ridges on the surfaces of South Coulee and Obsidian Dome, Mono-Inyo Craters, CA were used to better understand emplacement mechanisms of rhyolite lava flows. 

GEOLOGY Image.png

Quartz phenocrysts from the Lava Creek Tuff, Yellowstone caldera, contain empty reentrants. The reentrants are preserved vestiges of bubbles in the pre-eruptive chamber. They tell us the magma was bubbly in the reservoir.



Dr. Kenneth Befus

Assistant Professor
CV and Google Scholar page

Roy Bassoo

PhD candidate

A video of his work

Anna Ruefer

MS candidate

Website and Twitter

James Thompson

Post doc

Google Scholar page

Chelsea Allison

Post doc

Google Scholar page

Come join us!


 If you're interested in working with us  email


“The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time; and while we listened with earnestness and admiration to the philosopher who was now unfolding to us the order and series of these wonderful events, we became sensible how much farther reason may sometimes go than imagination can venture to follow.”

— John Playfair, 1897