Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Mineral Sciences
Scientists in the Department of Mineral Sciences seek to understand the evolution of the Earth and Solar System by studying samples from environments ranging from the mantle to mine drainages, from volcanic arcs to the asteroid belt. The department is home to world-class collections of rocks, minerals, meteorites, and gems, as well as the instruments our scientists use to study these specimens in detail.
**While the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History exhibition spaces are now open to the public, our collections remain closed to most staff and all researchers, and the museum’s COVID-19 loan moratorium remains in effect. Currently, there is no capacity to accommodate collections activities including visits, image requests, loans, and shipments. Do not send packages to Mineral Sciences staff at this time. While there is no current date set for when on-site collections activities will resume, we will update as soon as this changes.**
Global Volcanism Program
The Global Volcanism Program seeks to document, understand, and disseminate information about global volcanic activity. Its weekly and monthly reports provide scientists with a record of ongoing eruptions they can use to guide research and hazard management related to volcanoes.
Using the Collections
Our collection of over 600,000 specimens is available for study by researchers worldwide. Find specimens and request a loan using the links below.
Access the Collections
Collections Overview
Samples Requests & Loan Policy
Reference Materials
Electron microprobe
Scanning electron microscope
Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer
Research Support Facilities
Seminar Schedule
Spring 2020 seminar schedule
Jan 8Using Jack Hills zircons to decode the secular evolution of the early EarthMichael Ackerson, Mineral Sciences
Jan 15Implications of isotopic heterogeneity of short-lived systems for Earth formation, long-term evolution, and present processesRichard J. Walker, University of Maryland
Jan 22Interpreting Redox-Sensitive Minerals to Understand Soil Environmental ConditionsMartin Rabenhorst, University of Maryland
Jan 29In situ x-ray diffraction studies of minerals under dynamic loadingSally J. Tracy, Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Division
Feb 5  
Feb 12  
Feb 19Heavy iron isotope composition of iron meteorites caused by core crystallizationPeng Ni, Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Division
Feb 26Rocks from Space!Wendy Bohon, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology
Mar 4From millennia to minutes: Timing magmatic processes using mineral diffusion chronometryEuan Mutch, University of Maryland
Mar 11Postponed: Metamorphism and The Evolution of Plate TectonicsRobert Holder, Johns Hopkins University
Mar 18No seminar (LPSC) 
Mar 25PostponedGiovanni Sosa, UNAM
Apr 1PostponedMichelle Muth, University of Oregon
Apr 8No seminar 
Apr 15No seminar 
Apr 22To be announcedJoy Buongiorno, Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Division
Apr 29To be announcedAndrew Steele, Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Division
May 6To be announced 
May 13To be announcedTanya Harrison, Planet Labs DC
May 20Symposium in honor of Carter Hearn 
May 27To be announcedRobert Hazen, Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Division
Jun 3To be announcedDina Bower, NASA
Jun 10To be announced 
Seminars are held on the fourth floor of the east wing of NMNH and run from 10 to 11 a.m. unless otherwise noted. Smithsonian personnel who are not members of the department can buzz in at the entrance to the department in the fourth floor elevator lobby prior to 10 a.m. Visitors without SI badges should call the department from the visitor services office, located at the 10th and Constitution Ave entrance to the museum, by dialing Phyllis McKenzie at x31808 or Ioan Lascu at x31815.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Email powered by BlackBaud (Privacy Policy, Terms of Use)
1000 Madison Drive NW
Washington, D.C. 20560
Free admission. Open Wednesday through Sunday
10 AM to 5:30 PM, except Dec. 25
Smithsonian Institution
Terms of Use
Privacy Policy
Contact Us
Host an Event
ResearchAnthropologyBotanyEntomologyInvertebrate ZoologyMineral SciencesAboutResearchProgramsCollections OverviewCollections AccessResearch Support FacilitiesOpportunitiesStaffContactsPaleobiologyVertebrate Zoology