Steve Mojzsis:

EE&PSG Research Home

Welcome to my personal research web page.

You may be wondering about my Family Name, its origin, and how to pronounce it. For an explanation, please click here

Of historical interest: J. A. Gy. E. Mojzsis Mojsvari (a.k.a. Edmund V. Mojsisovics), born October 18, 1839. died October 2, 1907. click here

As a geologist, I view Earth as an accessible laboratory that serves as the natural baseline in the test for models to be used in search for ancient biospheres on other ancient planetary surfaces, and to test ideas on the nature of probable Exoplanets.

The research carried out in my group at CU-Boulder is field-, laboratory- and modeling-based, and seeks to understand such things as:

(i) How the surface state stabilized after planetary formation, to the time of the establishment of a permanently-oxygenated atmosphere;
(ii) When habitats for early life could have developed and the geophysical regimes that permitted the origin and proliferation of biological systems;
(iii) How the geomicrobiology of contemporary microbial communities provides some insight into the nature of the dominant biome(s) on the young Earth;
(iv) What information is preserved through physical/chemical changes endemic to high-grade metamorphic terranes; and
(v) What these results from the ancient rock record might mean in terms of the establishment of habitability for Earth-like Exoplanets.

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION with year of completion

University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Postdoctoral Scholar in Geochemistry & Geochronology 2000
Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD) Ph.D. Earth Sciences 1997
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts MA Geology 1992
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts BA Geology 1988


2000-present Assistant (2000), Associate (2007), Full (2014) Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado
2013-present Visiting Research Professor, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
2011-2013 Professor of Geology & Geochemistry, Universite Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France
2008-2009 Acting Director, Science Education Initiative node at the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado
2007-2008 Visiting Fulbright Professor, CNRS-CRPG, Nancy, France
1999-2000 Adjunct Assistant Professor of Geochemistry, Earth & Space Sciences, UCLA
1998-2000 NSF Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow, Earth & Space Sciences, UCLA
1997-1998 University of California President's Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Earth & Space Sciences, UCLA
1998-2000 Assistant Research Scientist, Institute for Pure & Applied Physical Sciences, UCSD
1995-1997 NSCORT Exobiology Graduate Fellow, UCSD
1993-1997 Graduate Research Assistant, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
1992 NASA Planetary Biology Intern, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego (UCSD)
1988-1992 Graduate Research Assistant, Boston University
1987 Undergraduate Intern, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston


Earth-Life Science Institute Visiting Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2016
ASSETT Award of Excellence in Technology in Teaching, University of Colorado, 2014
Distinguished Visiting Professor, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungary), 2013-present
Fulbright Faculty Scholar (France), 2007-2008
Faculty Fellow, Council of Research and Creative Work, University of Colorado, 2007-2008
University of Colorado, Residence Life Teaching Award (Undergraduate Teaching Award), 2004
Fellow, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP), University of California, 1998
Hickok-Radford Award for Geological Research in Polar Regions, Soc. Econ. Geologists, 1997
Geological Society of America, Graduate Research Award, 1996
Edward Frieman Director's Prize, Best Graduate Student Paper of 1996, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 1997
Sigma Xi, San Diego Chapter Science Award, 1995
Boston University Graduate Award for Excellence in Geology, 1987

    *Denotes Book chapter
    Underline = Past or present graduate student author
    Italics = Past or present research associate/postdoctoral author

    updated October 8, 2015

    74. Mojzsis, S.J., Abramov, O. and Kereszturi, A. (in preparation) Exogenous carbonaceous matter in ancient martian sediments.

    73. Petrash, D. et al. (SUBMITTED) Reassessing Paleoproterozoic stromatolite trace element inventories as paleoenvironmental proxy data.

    72. Eccles, K.A. et al. (in preparation) Chemical composition and Sm-Nd isotope age systematics of garnet from the Jack Hills (Western Australia).

    71. Abramov, O. and Mojzsis, S.J. (SUBMITTED) The early bombardment of Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters - Frontiers.

    70. Greer, J.C., Cates, N.L., Caro, G., Bleeker W. and Mojzsis, S.J. (in preparation) Archean granitoid gneisses of the Inukjuak domain (Quebec, Canada).

    69. Mojzsis, S.J. (in preparation) Controls on global recipes for life's emergence. Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

    68. Frank, E.A., Maier, W.D. and Mojzsis, S.J. (SUBMITTED) A relic of late accretion in highly siderophile element abundance trends from Eoarchean komatiite protoliths.

    67. Polgari, M., Nemeth, T., Pal-Molnar, E., Futo, I., Vigh, T and Mojzsis, S.J. (2015) Correlated chemostratigraphy of Mn-carbonate microbialites (Urkut, Hungary). Gondwana Research. The final publication is available at

    66. Willbold, M., Mojzsis, S.J., Hsin-Wei, C. and Elliot, T. (2015) Tungsten isotope compositions of the Acasta Gneiss Complex. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 419:168-177.

    65. Hopkins, M.D. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2015) A protracted timeline for lunar bombardment from mineral chemistry, Ti-thermometry and U-Pb geochronology of Apollo 14 melt breccia zircons. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 169:30. The final publication is available at Springer via

    64. Hopkins, M.D., Mojzsis, S.J., Bottke, W.F. and Abramov, O. (2015) Micrometer-scale U- Pb age domains in eucrite zircons, impact re-setting and the thermal history of the HED parent body. Icarus. 245, 367-378.

    63. Frank, E.A., Meyer, B. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2014) A radiogenic heating model for cosmochemically Earth-like exoplanets. Icarus 243: 274-286.

    62. Roth, A.S.G., Bourdon, B., Mojzsis, S.J., Rudge, J.F., Guitreau, M. and Blichert-Toft, J. (2014) Combined 147,146Sm-143,142Nd constraints on the longevity and residence time of early terrestrial crust. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems DOI 10.1002/2014GC005313.

    61. Guitreau, M., Blichert-Toft, J., Mojzsis, S.J., Roth, A.S.G., Bourdon, B., Cates, N.L. and Bleeker, W. (2014) The Lu-Hf isotope system in the Acasta Gneiss Complex (Northwest Territories, Canada) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 135, 251-269.

    60. Mojzsis, S.J., Cates, N.L., Bleeker, W., Hopkins, M.D., Guitreau, M., Blichert-Toft, J., Trail, D. and Abramov, O. (2014) Component geochronology of the ca. 3960 Ma Acasta Gneiss. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 133, 68-96.

    59. Swanner, E.D., Planavsky, N.J., Lalonde, S.V., Robbins, L.J., Bekker, A., Rouxel, O.J., Kappler, A., Mojzsis, S.J. and Konhauser, K.O. (2014) Cobalt and marine redox evolution. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 390, 253-263.

    58. Swanner, E.D., Cates, N.L., Pecoits, E., Bekker, A., Konhauser, K.O. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2013) Geochemistry of pyrite from diamictites of the Boolgeeda Iron Formation, Western Australia with implications for the GOE and Paleoproterozoic ice ages. Chemical Geology 362, 131-142.

    57. Abramov, O., Kring, D.A., and Mojzsis, S.J. (2013) INVITED REVIEW: The impact environment of the Hadean Earth. Chemie der Erde-geochemistry 73: 227-248.

    56. Mloszewska, A.M., Mojzsis, S.J., Pecoits, E., Papineau, D., Dauphas, N. and Konhauser, K.O. (2013) Chemical sedimentary protoliths of the >3.75 Ga Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (Quebec, Canada). Gondwana Research 23, 574-594.

    55. Guitreau, M., Blichert-Toft, J., Mojzsis, S.J., Roth, A.S.G. and Bourdon, B. (2013) A legacy of Hadean silicate differentiation inferred from Hf isotopes in Eoarchean rocks of the Nuvvuagittuq supracrustal belt (Quebec, Canada). Earth and Planetary Science Letters 362, 171-181.

    54. Roth, A.S.G., Bourdon, B., Mojzsis, S.J., Touboul, M., Sprung, P., Guitreau, M. and Blichert-Toft, J. (2013) Inherited 142Nd anomalies in Eoarchean protoliths. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 361, 50-57.

    53. Cates, N.L., Mojzsis, S.J., Ziegler, K. and Schmitt, A.K. (2013) Reduced, reused and recycled: Detrital zircons define a maximum age for the Eoarchean (ca. 3750-3780 Ma) Nuvvuagittuq supracrustal belt, Quebec (Canada) Earth and Planetary Science Letters 362, 283-293.

    52. Mloszewska, A.M., Pecoits, E., Cates, N.L., Mojzsis, S.J., ONeil, J., Robbins, L.J. and Konhauser, K.O. (2012) The composition of Earth oldest iron formations: The Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (Quebec, Canada). Earth and Planetary Science Letters 317, 331-342.

    51. Abbott, S.S., Harrison, T.M., Schmitt, A.K. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2012) A search for thermal excursions from ancient extraterrestrial impacts using Hadean zircon Ti-U-Th-Pb depth profiles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 109, 13486-13492.

    50. Guitreau, M. Blichert-Toft, J., Martin, H., Mojzsis, S.J. and Albarede, F. (2012) Hafnium isotope evidence from Archean granitic rocks for deep-mantle origin of continental crust. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 337-338, 211-223.

    49. Maier, A.C., Cates, N.L., Trail, D. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2012) Geology, age and field relations of Hadean zircon-bearing supracrustal rocks from Quad Creek, eastern Beartooth Mountains (Montana and Wyoming, USA). Chemical Geology 312, 47-57.

    48. Konhauser, K.O., Lalonde, S.V., Planavsky, N.J., Pecoits, E., Lyons, T.W., Mojzsis, S.J., Rouxel, O.J., Barley, M.E., Rosiere, C., Fralick, P.W., Kump, L.R. and Bekker, A. (2011) Aerobic bacterial pyrite oxidation and acid rock drainage during the Great Oxidation Event. Nature 478, 369-374.

    47. Abramov, O. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2011) Abodes for life in carbonaceous asteroids? Icarus 213, 273-279.

    46. Mojzsis, S.J. (2010) Leftover lithosphere. Nature Geoscience 3, 148-149.

    45. Mojzsis, S.J. (2010) Earth, formation and early evolution. in Encyclopedia of Astrobiology.

    44. Papineau, D. DeGregorio, B.T., Cody, G.D., Fries, M.D., Mojzsis, S.J., Steele, A., Stroude, R.M. and Fogel, M.L. (2010) Ancient graphite in Eoarchean quartz-pyroxene rocks from Akilia, West Greenland I: Petrographic and spectroscopic characterization. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74, 5862-5883.

    43. Abramov, O. and Mojzsis, S.J. Microbial habitability of the terrestrial biosphere during the late heavy bombardment. Nature 459, 419-422.

    42. Cates, N.L. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2009) Metamorphic zircon, trace elements and Neoarchean metamorphism in the ca. 3.75 Ga Nuvvuagittuq supracrustal belt, Quebec (Canada). Chemical Geology 261, 98-113.

    41. Caro, G., Bennett, V.C., Bourdon, B., Harrison, T.M., Mojzsis, S.J. and Harris, J.W. (2008) Precise analysis of 142Nd/144Nd in small samples: Application to Hadean zircons from Jack Hills (W. Australia) and diamond inclusions from Finsch (S. Africa). Chemical Geology 247, 253-265.

    40. Turner, G., Busfield, A., Crowther, S., Harrison, T.M., Mojzsis, S.J. and Gilmour, J. (2007) Pu-Xe, U-Xe, U-Pb chronology and isotope systematics of ancient zircons from Western Australia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 261, 491-499.

    39. SORRY, ONLY A PREPRINT AVAILABLE *Mojzsis, S.J. (2007) Sulphur on the Early Earth. In, Earth's oldest rocks (Van Kranendonk, M..J., Smithies, R.H. and Bennett, V. Eds.) Developments in Precambrian Geology 15, 923-970.

    38. Dauphas, N., Cates, N.L., Mojzsis, S.J. and Busigny, V. (2007) Identification of chemical sedimentary protoliths using iron isotopes in the >3760 Ma Nuvvuagittuq supracrustal belt, Canada. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 254, 358-376.

    37. Cates, N.L. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2007) Pre-3750 Ma supracrustal rocks from the Nuvvuagittuq supracrustal belt, northern Quebec. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 255, 9-21.

    36. Trail, D., Mojzsis, S.J. and Harrison, T.M. (2007) Thermal events documented in Hadean zircons by ion microprobe depth profiles. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 71, 4044-4065.

    35. Trail, D., Mojzsis, S.J., Harrison, T.M., Schmitt, A.K., Watson, E.B. and Young, E.D. (2007) Constraints on Hadean protoliths from oxygen isotopes and Ti-thermometry Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 8. doi:10.1029/2006GC001449.

    34. Papineau, D., Mojzsis, S.J., and Schmitt, A.K. (2007) Multiple sulfur isotopes from Paleoproterozoic Huronian interglacial sediments and the rise of atmospheric oxygen. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 255, 188-212.

    33. Papineau, D. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2006) Mass-independent fractionation of sulfur isotopes in sulfides from the pre-3770 Ma Isua Supracrustal Belt, West Greenland. Geobiology 4, 227-238.

    32. Cates, N.L. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2006) Chemical and isotopic evidence for widespread Eoarchean (>3700 Ma) metasedimentary enclaves in southern West Greenland. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70, 4229-4257.

    31. Manning, C.E., Mojzsis, S.J. and Harrison, T.M. (2006) Geology, age and origin of supracrustal rocks, Akilia, Greenland. American Journal of Science 306, 303-366.

    30. Harrison, T.M., Blichert-Toft, J., Mueller, W., Albarede, F., Holden, P. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2006) Response to comment on "Heterogeneous Hadean Hafnium: Evidence of continental crust at 4.4 to 4.5 Ga." Science 312, 1139b.

    29. Harrison, T.M., Blichert-Toft, J., Mueller, W., Albarede, F., Holden, P. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2005) Heterogeneous Hadean Hafnium: Evidence of continental crust at 4.4 to 4.5 Ga. Science 310, 1947-1950.

    28. Papineau, D., Mojzsis, S.J., Coath, C.D., Karhu, J.A. and McKeegan, K.D. (2005) Multiple sulfur isotopes of sulfides from sediments in the aftermath of Paleoproterozoic glaciations. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 69, 5033-5060.

    27. Papineau, D., Walker, J.J, Mojzsis, S.J., and Pace, N.R. (2005) Composition and structure of microbial communities from stromatolites of Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Applied Environmental Microbiology 71, 4822-4832.

    26. Mojzsis, S.J. (2005) Precambrian hydrocarbons: Products of changing geology and biology with time. Petrol. Front. 20, 3-10.

    25. Papineau, D., Mojzsis, S.J., Karhu, J.A. and Marty, B. (2005) Nitrogen isotopic composition of ammoniated phyllosilicates: Case studies from Precambrian metamorphosed sedimentary rocks. Chemical Geology 216, 37-58 (doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2004.10.009).

    24. *Mojzsis, S.J. Atmosphere evolution. In Encyclopedia of Geology, edited by R. Selley, R. Cocks and I.R Plimer: Elsevier, Oxford 1, 197-207.

    23. Turner, G., Harrison, T.M., Holland, G., Mojzsis, S.J. and Gilmour, J. (2004) Extinct 244Pu in ancient zircons. Science 306, 89-91.

    22. *Mojzsis, S.J. (2003) Probing early atmospheres. Nature 425 (6955), 249-251.

    21. Mojzsis, S.J., Devaraju, T.C. and Newton, R.C. (2003) Ion microprobe U-Pb age determinations on zircon from the Late Archean granulite facies transition zone of southern Karnataka, India. Journal of Geology 111(4), 407-425.

    20. Mojzsis, S.J., Coath, C.D., Greenwood, J.P., McKeegan, K.D. and Harrison, T.M. (2003) Confirmation of mass-independent isotope effects in Archean (2.5 3.8 Ga) sedimentary sulfides as determined by ion microprobe analysis. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 67(9), 1635-1658.

    19. Mojzsis, S.J. (2002) Origin of Life: The First Fossils. In Encyclopedia of Evolution, edited by M. Pagel: Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 843-845.

    18. Mojzsis, S.J., and Harrison, T.M. (2002) Establishment of a 3.83 Ga magmatic age for the Akilia tonalite (southern West Greenland). Earth and Planetary Science Letters 202, 563-576.

    17. Mojzsis, S.J. and Harrison, T.M. (2002) Origin and Significance of Archean Quartzose Rocks at Akilia, Greenland. Science 298, 917a.

    16. Mojzsis, S.J., Harrison, T.M., Pidgeon, R.T., C.D. (2001) Oxygen isotope evidence from ancient zircons for liquid water at Earths surface 4,300 Myr ago. Nature 409, 178-181.

    15. Anbar, A.D., Zahnle, K.J., Arnold, G. and Mojzsis, S.J. (2001) Extraterrestrial iridium, sediment accumulation and the habitability of the early Earths surface. Journal of Geophysical 106(2), 3219-3236.

    14. Mojzsis, S.J. (2001) Life and the evolution of Earths atmosphere, In Earth inside and out, edited by E. Mathez: New Press, New York, pp. 32-39. [peer-reviewed book chapter for lay audience]

    *13. Mojzsis, S.J., and Ryder, G. (2001) Extraterrestrial accretion to the Earth and Moon ca. 3.85 Ga. In: Accretion of Extraterrestrial Matter Throughout Earth History, edited by B. Peuckner-Ehrenbrink and B. Schmitz: Kluwer, pp. 423-446.

    12. Mojzsis, S.J., and Harrison, T.M. (2000) Vestiges of a beginning: clues to the emergent biosphere recorded in the oldest known sedimentary rocks. GSA Today 10: 1-6.

    *11. Ryder, G., Koeberl, C., and Mojzsis, S.J. (2000) Heavy bombardment of the Earth at ~3.85 Ga: The search for petrographic and geochemical evidence. In: Origin of the Earth and Moon; edited by K. Righter and R. Canup: University of Arizona Press pp.475-492.

    10. Greenwood, J.P., Mojzsis, S.J. and Coath, C.D. (2000) Sulfur isotopic compositions of individual sulfides in ALH84001 and Nakhla: implications for crust-regolith exchange on Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 184, 23-25.

    *9. Mojzsis, S.J., Krishnamurthy, R., and Arrhenius, G. (1999) Before RNA and After: Geophysical and geochemical constraints on molecular evolution. In: The RNA World II, edited by Gesteland, R., Cech, T. and Atkins, J.: Cold Spring Harbor Press, New York pp. 1- 47.

    8. Mojzsis, S.J., Harrison, T.M., Arrhenius, G., McKeegan, K.D., and Grove, M. (1999) Origin of life from apatite dating? Reply. Nature 400, 127-128.

    7. Mojzsis, S.J., and Arrhenius, G. (1998) Phosphates and carbon on Mars: Exobiological implications and sample return considerations. Journal of Geophysical Research 103(E12), 28,495-28,511.

    6. Arrhenius, G., Sales, B., Mojzsis, S.J., and Lee, T. (1997) Entropy and charge in molecular evolution: the role of phosphate. Journal of Theoretical Biology 187, 503-522.

    5. Eiler, J.M., Mojzsis, S.J., and Arrhenius, G. (1997) Carbon isotope evidence for early life: Nature 386, 665.

    4. Nutman, A.P., Mojzsis, S.J., and Friend, C.R.L. (1997) Identification of the oldest water-lain sediments at >3850 Ma from Akilia island, southern West Greenland. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 61(12), 2475-2484.

    3. Arrhenius, G., and Mojzsis, S.J. (1996) Extraterrestrial life: Life on Mars-then and now. Curr. Bio. 6(10), 1213-1216.

    2. Mojzsis, S.J., Arrhenius, G., McKeegan, K.D., Harrison, T.M., Nutman, A.P., and Friend, C.R.L. (1996) Evidence for life on Earth by 3800 million years ago. Nature 384 (6604), 55-59.

    *1. Arrhenius, G., Gedulin, B., and Mojzsis, S.J. (1993) Phosphate in models for chemical evolution. In: Chemical Evolution: Origin of Life, edited by Ponnamperuma, C., and Chela-Flores, J.: A. Deepak, Hampton, Virginia, pp. 25-50.

    Other Publications

    4. #Mojzsis, S.J. (2004) The First Billion Years: New insights from geochemistry. Precambrian Research 135 (4), 245-250. [preface to a special issue].
    3. #Mojzsis, S.J. (2004) Life in the first billion years. Journal of High School Science (Canada) 3 (1), 46-51. [public service/outreach activity].
    1. *Mojzsis, S.J. . (2003) The Early Earth: Physical, Chemical and Biological Development. Eos Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union 88 (36), 358. [Book review]

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