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.  


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PhD candidate Roy Bassoo publishes the first assessment of Guyana's alluvial diamonds. We document the diamonds' surface textures, internal structures, compositions, and inclusion character. We suggest Guyana's diamonds are sourced from the Paleoproterozoic. 

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MS student Tyler Leggett publishes on the sizes and distributions of blocks and ridges on the surfaces of South Coulee and Obsidian Dome from the Mono-Inyo Craters, CA. This data was used to better understand emplacement mechanisms of rhyolite lava flows. 

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The hydrogen isotope composition of rhyolite melt inclusions from the Bishop Tuff range from -40 to -60 per mil. This composition is most similar to values preserved in mafic arc magmas. 



Dr. Kenneth Befus

Assistant Professor
CV and Google Scholar page

YouTube Channel

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