Serena Formenti

PhD Geological Sciences

EOS Main 305

Governed by varying chemical and physical properties, Earth’s mantle cycles all materials of the lithosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere over millions of years. Mantle plumes, such as the one responsible for the formation of the Hawaiian Islands, originate from the deep mantle and provide invaluable compositional and structural information about the Earth, thousands of kilometers deep.

At the Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (PCIGR), I employ geochemical methods to study the fine scale evolution and structure of the Hawaiian mantle plume. Currently, I am working with samples from the Northwest Hawaiian Ridge, an area comprised of volcanoes produced during a significant period of mantle plume strengthening, and samples from the Lanai volcano, representing a chemically extreme magmatic end member. My research aims to address 1) how and why the Hawaiian mantle plume became the most active of its kind on Earth and 2) how the internal structure of the plume preserves chemical signatures from the deep mantle.

To complete my research, I am trained in geochemical methods and the use of mass spectrometers for trace element analysis and lead, strontium, neodymium and hafnium isotope analyses. This includes chemical sample preparation (eg. sample digestion, cation exchage chromatography) in ultra-clean (class 1000) laboratories and analysis via high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICP-MS), multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS), and thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS).


Formenti, S., Weis, D., Garcia, MO, & Harrison, LN. Abstract and Poster Presentation: Geochemistry of Northwest Hawaiian Ridge Basalts: Insight in the Evolution of the Hawaiian Mantle Plume, Goldschmidt. Honolulu, HI 17-22 Jul 2022.

Formenti, S., Peace, A., Eyles, C., Lee, R., & Waldron, J. (2022). Fractures in the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario, Canada: Distribution, connectivity, and geohazard implications. Geological Magazine, 159(11-12), 1936-1951.