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Faculty Profile

Alyson Thibodeau

Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences (2015)

Contact Information

Kaufman Hall Room 133


Dr. Thibodeau uses isotopic measurements to decipher both the geologic and human past. In her research, she applies metals isotopes (Pb, Sr, Hg, U-Pb) as both tracers and chronometers of earth surface process and to questions of provenance, especially in archaeology. Her research areas include: the fate and source of trace metals (e.g. lead and mercury) in the environment, links between massive volcanism and mass extinctions in the geologic record, and determining the age of past fluid migration within potential repositories for nuclear waste. She also has an established history of collaboration with the archaeological community and applies isotopic tracers to identify or constrain the geologic sources of minerals, metals, and ceramics found in the archaeological record. To date, much of her work has focused on using isotopes to reconstruct the mining and exchange of turquoise by prehispanic groups in both the Southwest United States and Mexico.


  • B.A., Amherst College, 2004
  • M.S., University of Arizona, 2006
  • Ph.D., 2012

2020-2021 Academic Year

Spring 2021

ERSC 151 Foundations of Earth Sciences
How do mountains and oceans form? Why do the positions of continents shift? Can rocks bend or flow? What is the history of life on our planet? This course explores the materials that make up the Earth and the processes that shape it, both at and below the surface. Students will take field trips around the Carlisle area as well as complete analytical and computer laboratory activities in order to acquire basic field, laboratory, and computer modelling skills. This course serves as a gateway to the Earth Sciences major, but is also appropriate for non-majors. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week.

ERSC 322 Archaeological Geology
This course will explore archaeological questions and problems from the perspective of the Earth Sciences. In particular, the course will focus on the use of geological and geochemical methods for establishing the age of archaeological sites, reconstructing past environments, tracing human migration and movements, and evaluating the geological provenance of artifacts. Students will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various methods and discuss them in the context of past and current debates within the field of archaeology. Previous coursework in earth sciences, chemistry, or archaeology is beneficial.