Dr. Susan DeBari

Ph.D., Stanford University, 1990


Department of Geology, MS 9080
Western Washington University

Email Address: susan.debari@wwu.edu

Office Phone: (360) 650-3588











Research Interests (Petrology and Science Education) (Publications)


My research concerns crustal scale petrologic processes within island arcs.  The focus is to understand the physical and chemical processes that operate within and beneath volcanic arc systems.  What processes govern magma generation in the mantle wedge? What happens to these magmas as they traverse the Moho into arc crust?  How does this arc crust become “continent-like”? This research takes the form of study of active arc systems as well as ancient systems. I am currently involved in three major research fronts: active Cascade volcanism, deep crustal sections of ancient volcanic arcs (Alaska, Vancouver Island, North Cascades Crystalline Core), and a marriage of the former fronts through a proposed research drilling expedition to the mid crust within the active Izu-Bonin volcanic arc of Japan. 

In the Cascades, my students and I are interested in understanding the nature of the mantle input into the northernmost segment of the arc (the Garibaldi belt) and how that mantle input has been affected by crustal processes. This has taken the form of study of primitive mafic lavas from Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker (including H2O contents of melt inclusions in olivine), and the origin of more differentiated lavas from both volcanoes. I

In the arc crustal sections, my students and I have focused on the geochemical processing that occurs in the “crustal filter” after primitive magmas have crossed the Moho. To study this processing, we have focused on a paleo-Moho and lower crust transition zone from the Talkeenta arc in Alaska, the mid crust from the western Talkeetna arc and the Bonanza arc on Vancouver Island, and the deep crust of the Cascade Crystalline core. 

In the Izu-Bonin arc, I am part of a multinational collaborative effort with the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. The major goals of the project are to understand the origin of the Izu-Bonin arc from its inception, and to categorize the mid crust of the arc through analysis of drill cores. These observed samples can then be matched with remote geophysical observations, creating a blueprint for remote observations of other arc systems.


If you are interested in graduate school at Western, click here to see my Potential projects for graduate students


Science Education


NSF has generously funded our North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership as part of their Math Science Partnership Program. I am currently working with a group of community college faculty and WWU faculty to develop a year-long curriculum in introductory science for future elementary school teachers.


The earth science subgroup has developed a module-based, non-lecture course that is being readied for publication. You can read a bit more about it in an abstract for the 2008 Fall AGU DeBari et al., 2008 Please inquire if you are interested in field testing this curriculum.


Currently I am funded through a Washington State Math Science Partnership (SPECK-8) to work with K-8 teachers and administrators on enhancing and sustaining professional learning communities in science.

Link to Science Education Publications on the Internet for locations of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Earth and Space Science, and General Science Education journals



I teach undergraduate major courses in petrology and volcanology, as well as upper-level undergraduate/graduate courses in Igneous Petrology and Geochemistry.  In addition to the normal classroom version of petrology (for majors), I also teach a field version (pre-fall petrology) where we integrate theory and practice at the outcrop.

·      Geology 309 - Volcanology

·      Geology 406 – Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (field and lab version)

·      Geology 423/523 – Advanced Igneous Petrology

·      SCED 202 –Transfer of Matter and Energy in Earth Systems)

·      SCED 480 – Science Methods in the Elementary School

·      SCED 490 – Science Practicum in the Elementary School


Graduate students – M.S. Degree


Angela Cota – in progress - A geochemical study of the Riddle Peaks Gabbro, North Cascades: Implications for magmatic differentiation and processes in the mid crust of an arc

Julie Gross – in progress – Origin and Evolution of Dacitic Magmas from Mt. Baker, Northern Cascade Arc

Chrstina Stout – in progress – Petrogenesis of Adakite-Like Magmas in the Forearc of the Southernmost Cascades, California

Steve Shaw – 2011 – H2O Contents in Olivine-Hosted Melt Inclusions From Primitive Magmas in the Northern Cascade Arc

Nicole Moore – 2010 – Origin and Geochemical Evolution of Mafic Magmas From Mount Baker in the Northern Cascade Arc, Washington: Probes Into Mantle and Crustal Processes

Benjamin Paulson – 2010 – Magmatic Processes in the Jurassic Bonanza Arc:  Insights from the Alberni Region of Vancouver Island, Canada

Troy Baggerman – 2009 – The Generation of a Diverse Suite of Late Pleistocene and Holocene Basaltic-Angesite Through Dacite Lavas from the Northern Cascade Arc at Mt. Baker, Washington

Michael Johnson – 2007 – Geochemical Composition of the Western Talkeetna Island Arc Crustal Section, Lower Cook Inlet Region, Alaska:  Implications for Crustal Growth Along Continental Margins

Janna Juday – 2006 – A Contemporary Review of 1975-1976 Elevated Activity Levels at the Mount Baker Complex, Washington, and Current Community Awareness of Volcanic Hazards

David Tucker – 2004 – Geology and Eruptive History of Hannegan Caldera, North Cascades, Washington

Andrew Greene – 2003 – A Detailed Geochemical Study of Island Arc Crust:  The Talkeetna Arc Section, south-central Alaska

Dylan Taylor – 2001 - Petrology and Geochemistry of Mafic Lavas Near Glacier Peak, WA