Professor Penelope (Penny) King

Ph.D. Arizona State University, USA
Professor, Research School of Earth Sciences
College of Science
T: 61-2-6125-0667

Areas of expertise

  • Geology 0403
  • Geochemistry 0402
  • Surface Processes 040607
  • Volcanology 040314
  • Extraterrestrial Geology 040302

Research interests

Interaction of planetary materials with gases and the role of these processes in understanding the evolution of planetary environments and surfaces.  These studies are relevant to gas sequestration, reactions at and beneath volcanoes and in ore deposits, and reactions on the surface of Mars and in the early solar system.

Effect of volatile elements, pH and oxidation/reduction on materials at high and low temperature.

Analysis of materials - especially novel techniques for analyzing light elements, multivalent elements and trace elements - to better constrain past environmental processes.



Ph.D. – Department of Geology – Arizona State University (ASU) – USA 1999

B.Sc. Hons. IA – Dept. Geology – Australian National University (ANU) – Australia 1993



Professor – Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES) – ANU 2019-

Senior Fellow – Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES) – ANU 2015-18

ARC Future Fellowship – RSES – ANU 2014-2018

Fellow – RSES – ANU 2012-2014

Senior Research Scientist III  Inst. Meteoritics – Univ. New Mexico (UNM) 2007-2011

Associate Professor (Tenured) – Dept. Earth Sciences – Univ. Western Ontario (UWO) 2006-07

Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) – Dept. Earth Sciences – UWO 1999-2006

Available student projects

Our research group is accepting applications from Honours and PhD students for projects on gas-solid reactions.

  • Adsorption of methane on materials simulating volcanic, impact and volcaniclastic basalts on Mars (with Dr. John Moores)
  • Reactions between SO2 and minerals
  • Volatile cycles on planets

Contact if you are interested.  Applicants with a background in Geology, Chemistry or Chemical Engineering are encouraged to apply.


Current student projects

Analytical & Field-based Projects

  • Oxygen isotopes of sapphires (with Aurelia Duncan, Colin Price & Janaina Avila)
  • Volatiles in volcanic tephra from the Izu-Bonin-Marianas arc (Janaina Avila)
  • Development of non-destructive, field-based reflectance infrared techniques to recognise mineral coatings on rock art, with application to finding datable coatings (with Dr. Tristen Jones)

Laboratory Projects

  • Carbon capture in basaltic rocks (Emily Robson & Anna Herring)

Planetary Geology Projects

  • Origin of unusual iron meteorites with silicate inclusions (Rachel Kirby)
  • Salts in CM chondrites (Rachel Kirby)
  • Volatiles on the terrestrial planets (Riley Baile)

Past student projects

ANU Analytical & Field-based Projects

  • Minerals in 2018 Kilauea Volcanic ash (Emily Oborski)
  • Hornblendes in I-type granites from the Bega Batholith (Katie Robb)
  • How swelling clays interact with land use (Prue Merriman)
  • Do carbonate tufas provide climate proxy data? (Aly Weirman)
  • Petrology and unusual chemical features of altered rocks from the Grasberg Deposit, Indonesia (Melanie Sieber, Dick Henley)

ANU Laboratory Projects

  • Reaction of volcanic gases with glasses and mobilisation of trace elements (Andrew Palmi)
  • Reaction of SO2 with basaltic glasses prepared at different oxygen fugacities (Christian Renggli)
  • Reaction of SO2 with glasses in the Anorthite-Albite-Diopside system (Christian Renggli)
  • Development of a glass thermometer using the effect of temperature on the mid-infrared spectra of glasses (Leo Pure, Andrew Palm)

ANU Planetary Geology Projects

  • Formation of calcium sulfate minerals on Mars (Tim Hunt)
  • Distribution of metals on the Moon's surface (Christian Renggli)
  • Mid-infrared studies of organic materials in meteorites (Shannon McConachie)


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Updated:  19 September 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers