Velbel, Michael A.

Velbel, Michael A. photo


Mineral/Water Interactions
 208B Natural Science
 (517) 353-5273

Professor Velbel (Ph.D., Yale University, 1984) studies regolith geoscience and the rates and mechanisms of mineral-water interactions during rock and mineral weathering.  His research investigates the geological, mineralogical, geochemical, and geomorphic factors which control mineral alterations at the Earth's surface and the migration of chemical elements through the landscape, emphasizing small-watershed geochemistry.  Related areas of research include terrestrial weathering of Antarctic and non-Antarctic meteorites; rock-, mineral-, and chemical-weathering on Mars and in Martian meteorites; recognition of pre-terrestrial aqueous alteration on other meteorite parent bodies from mineralogical investigations of meteorites; and preservation of sample integrity for past and future sample-return missions.  He worked with the Mineralogy-Petrology subteam of the NASA Stardust comet sample-return mission Preliminary Examination Team (2006).  In addition to MSU, Prof. Velbel has held visiting appointments at the University of Cincinnati, the Faculté des Sciences-St Jérôme of the Université Paul Cézanne (Université d'Aix-Marseilles III), the Australian National University and the (Australian) Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration (CRC-LEME).  He held NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowships at the NASA Johnson Space Center in 1987 and 1999; and was a Smithsonian Senior Fellow at the Division of Meteorites, Department of Mineral Sciences, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2012-2013.  He was President of The Clay Minerals Society 2013-2014.

Recent Publications

  • Bishop, J.L., Fairén, A.G., Michalski, J.R., Gago-Duport, L., Baker, L.L., Velbel, M.A., Gross, C., and Rampe, E.B., 2018. Surface clay formation during short-term warmer and wetter conditions on a largely cold ancient Mars. Nature Astronomy, v. 2, p. 202-213.
  • Velbel, M.A., 2018. Crystallography on Mars – Curiosity’s Bragging right. (Highlights and Breakthroughs) American Mineralogist, v. 103, p. 837-838.
  • Velbel, M.A., 2016.  Aqueous corrosion of olivine in the Mars meteorite Miller Range (MIL) 03346 during Antarctic weathering: Implications for water on Mars. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 180, p. 126-145.  doi:
  • Losiak, A., Czechowski, L., and Velbel, M.A., 2015.  Ephemeral liquid water at the surface of the Martian North Polar Residual Cap: Results of numerical modelling.  Icarus, v. 262, p. 131-139.
  • Corrigan, C.M., Velbel, M.A., and Vicenzi, E.P., 2015.  Modal abundances of pyroxene, olivine, and mesostasis in nakhlites: Heterogeneity, variation, and implications for nakhlite emplacement.   Meteoritics and Planetary Science, v. 50, p. 1497-1511.  doi: 10.1111/maps.12492
  • Velbel, M.A., Tonui, E.K., and Zolensky, M.E., 2015.  Replacement of olivine by serpentine in the Queen Alexandra Range 93005 carbonaceous chondrite (CM2): Reactant-product compositional relations, and isovolumetric constraints on reaction stoichiometry and elemental mobility during aqueous alteration.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 148, p. 402-425.
  • Velbel, M.A., 2014.  Etch-pit size, dissolution rate, and time in the experimental dissolution of olivine: Implications for estimating olivine lifetime at the surface of Mars.  American Mineralogist, v. 99, p. 2227-2233.  DOI:


  • GLG431 - Sedimentology/Stratigraphy
  • GLG440 - Planetary Geology
  • GLG481 - Reservoirs and Aquifers