Michael J. Jercinovic

Mike Jercinovic is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts and the director of the UMass Electron Microprobe/SEM Facility. Mike’s general research focuses on EPMA in minor and trace element applications. Specifically, he works toward refinement of background characterization techniques in complex phases, the use of blanks and heterogeneous materials in the assessment of accuracy, and the evaluation of dynamic emission effects due to beam damage and contamination.

Applications for this research can be found in such diverse fields as meteoritics, climate science, and igneous and metamorphic petrology. Primarily, however, research at Mike’s UMass facility has centered on the potential application of EPMA toward geochronologic problems associated with complex tectonic histories. This endeavor, in collaboration with colleague Michael Williams, has provided the impetus for significant instrumentation and technique development, and has motivated the NSF-sponsored development of the one-of-a-kind Cameca SX-Ultrachron to explore high spatial resolution analysis at high sensitivity. At this point, EPMA has evolved to become a critical and sometimes indispensable contributor in many tectonic/geochronologic evaluations, particularly as high spatial resolution and comprehensive geochemistry are becoming increasingly recognized as vital aspects of the characterization of the pertinent accessory phases. This research has led to the recognition that EPMA can establish evidence of reactions that result in the growth or breakdown of phases such as monazite in structural and petrologic (major phase evolution) context, therefore offering the potential to directly date the reactions themselves. The fine-scale of accessory phase polygenesis can be extraordinary, requiring equally extraordinary analytical methods to characterize. In two cases, sub-micron domains have been successfully dated, revealing new details of tectonic histories, and providing unique evidence for the interpretation of inconsistencies in some spatially coarser geochronologic datasets.

Mike received his PhD in geology from the University of New Mexico (1988). He was first introduced to electron probe micro-analysis by Klaus Keil Of UNM’s Institute of Meteoritics, who greatly influenced him and encouraged pursuit of a career in geochemistry and microanalysis. After post doctorate work, Mike directed the MIT electron microprobe facility for several years where he continued to refine his analytical methods. After briefly working on microelectronic evaluation in the private sector, he returned to academia when he became research faculty at UMass in 1997.