Magmatic systems and subduction zones are key pathways connecting the deep Earth to its atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Magmatism and subduction thus play key roles in Earth-system evolution and the development of continents, plate tectonics, and life on Earth.
The mechanisms and timing of continental crust formation are important to understand because they are intimately tied to (i) the history of plate tectonics, (ii) the chemical evolution of the atmosphere and oceans, and (iii) the proliferation of life on Earth
Hydrothermal systems are responsible for a vast majority of economic metal deposits (e.g., skarn, porphyry, epithermal, mesothermal, VMS) and are also of great importance to the geochemical budgets of the oceans through time.
The oceans are the most important carbon reservoir on Earth’s surface and help regulate atmospheric CO2 concentrations through geologic time. Short and long-term changes in oceanic geochemical cycles, therefore, have had large compounding effects on the evolution and present state of Earth’s atmosphere and biosphere.
The evolution of the Earth, terrestrial planets, and early solar system are important to understand the nebular conditions and processes conducive to formation of oxygen-rich planets and life in the cosmos.
Stable isotopes also serve as important constraints on (paleo)ecological and biological systems, including (i) terrestrial and marine food-webs, both today and in the geologic past, (ii) evolution of early humans, (iii) behaviour of key nutrients in human and animals ("metallomics"), and (iv) forensic science.