Tom Marchitto

Tom Marchitto


  • Director, ICP-MS Trace Metal Laboratory
  • Affiliate Faculty, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Departments / Academic Programs


  • PhD: Marine Geology and Geophysics, MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, 1999
  • BS: Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 1994

Research Programs, Labs, and Groups

Contact Information

(Office) 303 492-7739


Paleoceanography and paleoclimatology

Research Interests

Past abrupt climate change, ocean circulation, ocean biogeochemistry, marine carbon cycle, trace and minor elements in biogenic calcium carbonates, biomineralization

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Graduate students assist with retrieval of a gravity core aboard the R/V Knorr in the Florida Straits. This coring device is useful for obtaining records of relatively recent climate, typically spanning some tens of thousand of years. Photo credit: Tom Marchitto.

As human activities continue to alter Earth’s climate, it becomes increasingly important to look to the past to better understand the future. I am a paleoceanographer, studying large-scale changes in ocean circulation and biogeochemistry that occur over timescales ranging from a few years to millions of years. Major variations in ocean circulation, from the surface to abyssal depths, have influenced climate via the transport and storage of heat. The oceans also exert control over atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas. Such changes are reflected in the physical and chemical properties of seawater, including temperature, salinity, carbonate chemistry, radiocarbon age, and the concentrations of various nutrients. I use the chemistry of marine calcifiers, mainly foraminifera, as recorders of these properties.

I grew up in the geologically fascinating state of Connecticut, and was the first member of my family to attend college. Since collecting minerals and fossils were favorite hobbies of my youth, I decided to major in geology at Yale University. I did undergraduate research with geochemist Karl Turekian and micropaleontologist Kuo-Yen Wei. It was only natural to combine these two fields in my pursuit of a PhD in the MIT – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. My principal advisors there were paleoceanographers Bill Curry and Delia Oppo, and Ed Boyle was also an important mentor. I then spent a bit over three years at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, working with a tremendous group of scientists that included my post-doctoral advisor Jean Lynch-Stieglitz, Lex van Geen, Peter deMenocal, Gerard Bond, Sidney Hemming, and Wally Broecker. I have been teaching at CU Boulder since 2003.


  • College Scholar Award, University of Colorado Boulder, 2017
  • Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, 2013
  • Provost's Faculty Achievement Award, University of Colorado Boulder, 2008