Contact Us


Geological Sciences
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3022
Moscow, ID 83844-3022
phone: (208) 885-6192

Karen Harpp

Karen Harpp, Ph.D.

Office: McClure 303D
Phone: (208) 885-4704
Email: kharpp@uidaho.edu
Mailing Address: c/o Department of Geological Sciences

Moscow, ID 83844-3022

University of Idaho
Associate Professor - Geochemistry

Campus Locations: Moscow

  • Research/Focus Areas
    • Geochemistry/petrology of hotspots and the mantle
    • Environmental geochemistry
    • Analytical geochemistry and trace element analysis
    • Science education and outreach programs with an emphasis on hands-on experiences
  • Biography
    • BS, Chemistry 1986—Dartmouth College
    • MS, Chemistry 1990—Cornell University
    • PhD, Geology/Chemistry 1995—Cornell University

    Research Projects

    • Plume-ridge interaction in Northern Galapagos
      In spring 2010, we mapped the region between the Galapagos Spreading Center and the main archipelago. We also sampled nearly 50 sites by dredging and collected additional gravity and magnetic data. Our goal is to elucidate the nature of the relationship between the Galapagos plume and the adjacent mid-ocean ridge, which is clearly contaminated by the plume but the mechanism of plume material transport remains unknown. There is also a supplemental project on the northeast seamounts in the Galapagos.
    • Origin of the Vanda Dike Swarm, Antarctica
      Through geochemical, petrologic, and geochronologic analyses coupled with field observations, we are attempting to understand the origin of the dike swarm in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica that occurred approximately 500 million years ago. We believe it may represent the transition between a convergent and divergent tectonic setting, and may as a result be able to inform us further about the nature of that tectonic rearrangement.
    • Boiling-over pyroclastic density currents
      In a collaborative study with Dennis Geist (UI) and faculty at Georgia Tech, we are investigating the mechanism for boiling-over pyroclastic density currents, a recently documented hazard at several Andean (and likely other) volcanoes. Our study focuses on Cotopaxi and Tungurahua volcanoes. At Tungurahua, this eruptive mechanism poses a particular hazard to the surrounding community owing to the lack of precursor activity that precedes the density currents. My component of the project is based on geochemical analysis of juvenile material produced during the eruptive events, as well as collection of field observations and determining constraints on emplacement temperatures.
    • Petrologic controls on volcanic eruptions
      This work includes geochemical analysis of samples collected during two seasons of field work on Hekla volcano and integrating that with the detailed in situ work being carried out by Dennis Geist and his students.
  • Selected Publications
    • Geist, D.J. and Harpp, K.S. 2009. "Geology of the Galapagos Islands", in Encyclopedia of Islands, edited by Rosemary G. Gillespie and David A. Clague, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
    • Warner, N., Levy, J., Harpp, K., and Farruggia, F. 2008. "Drinking water quality in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley: A survey and assessment of selected controlling site characteristics", Hydrogeology Journal, 16 (2), 321-334.
    • Geist, D.J., Harpp, K.S., Naumann, T.R., Poland, M., Chadwick, W.W., Hall, M., and Rader, E. 2007. "The 2005 Eruption of Sierra Negra Volcano, Galapagos, Ecuador", Bulletin of Volcanology. doi: 10.1007/s00445-007-0160-3.
    • Harpp, K.S., Wanless, V.D., Otto, R.H., Hoernle, K., and Werner, R. 2005. The Cocos and Carnegie Ridges: A Trace Element Record of Long-term Plume-Ridge Interaction, Journal of Petrology, 46, 109-133.
    • Harpp, K.S., Koleszar, A.M., and Geist, D.J. 2005. Volcanoes in the Classroom: Eruption Column Simulation, Journal of Geoscience Education, 53, 173-175.
    • Harpp, K.S., Fornari, D.J., Geist, D.J., and Kurz, M.D. 2003. "Genovesa Submarine Ridge: A Manifestation of Plume-Ridge Interation in the Northern Galapagos Islands", Geochemistry Geophysics GEosystems, 4, 8511, doi: 10.1029/2003GC000531.