Dr. Sarah K. Carmichael

Dr. Sarah Carmichael studies "tiny minerals that tell big stories." She specializes in fluid-rock reactions and what tiny minerals can tell us about ecosystems and environments in deep time as well as in the present. Her current research explores the paleogeographic controls on Late Devonian mass extinctions, fluid-rock reactions in carbonates, the geomicrobiology of cave mineral deposits and the effect of human tourism on cave sediments and microbial ecosystems, and the role of microbes in manganese ore formation. Her research has taken her from the tops of mountains to the bottom of the ocean, and she became a National Geographic Explorer in 2018 and in 2022 was named one of the Explorers Club 50 - fifty people changing the world who the world needs to know about.

Dr. Carmichael is also a member of the Appalachian Studies Faculty and teaches introductory, interdisciplinary, and advanced undergraduate classes. She won a Board of Governors Teaching Award in 2020, and was inducted into Appalachian's Academy of Outstanding Teachers in 2022.


  • B.A. Smith College
  • M.A. Johns Hopkins University
  • Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University

Research Interests

  • geomicrobiology of caves
  • manganese mineralogy
  • geochemistry of mass extinctions
  • Late Devonian paleogeography and paleoenvironments
  • carbonate geochemistry

Courses Taught

  • GES 1101 - Introduction to Physical Geology
  • GES 2301 - Energy Extraction in Appalachia - Past, Present, and Future (cross-listed with Appalachian Studies A_S 2301)
  • GES 2750 - Preparation for Careers in the Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • GES 2751 - Geology Field Methods
  • GES 3715 - Petrology & Petrography
  • GES 5500 - Geomicrobiology Research Methods

Website(s) and CV

 Selected Recent Publications (* denotes student advisee)

Visit Dr. Carmichael's profile on Google Scholar.

  • Ariuntogos, M., Königshof, P., Hartenfels, S., Jansen, U., Nazik, A., Carmichael, S. K., Waters, J. A., Sersmaa, G., Crônier, C., Ariunchimeg, Y., *Paschall, O. C., and *Dombrowski, A., 2020, The Hushoot Shiveetiin gol section (Baruunhuurai Terrane): Sedimentology and facies from a Late Devonian island arc setting. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments (special issue: The Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) during Late Devonian: new insights from southern Mongolia) (DOI: 10.1007/s12549-020-00445-0)
  • Carmichael, S. K., Waters, J. A., Königsof, P., Suttner, T. J., & Kido, E. (2019). Paleogeography and paleoenvironments of the Late Devonian Kellwasser event: A review of its sedimentological and geochemical expression. Global and Planetary Change, 102984. 
  • *Paschall, O., Carmichael, S. K., Königshof, P., Waters, J. A., Ta, P. H., Komatsu, T., & *Dombrowski, A. (2019). The Devonian-Carboniferous boundary in Vietnam: Sustained ocean anoxia with a volcanic trigger for the Hangenberg Crisis?. Global and Planetary Change175, 64-81.
  • Carmichael, S. K., Doctor, D. H., Wilson, C. G., *Feierstein, J., & McAleer, R. J. (2017). New insight into the origin of manganese oxide ore deposits in the Appalachian Valley and Ridge of northeastern Tennessee and northern Virginia, USA. GSA Bulletin129(9-10), 1158-1180.
  • *Mara LC Cloutier, Sarah K Carmichael, Michael A Carson, Michael D Madrich, and Suzanna Bräuer, 2017, Carbon quantity and quality drives variation in cave microbial communities and regulates Mn(II) oxidation, Biogeochemistry, v. 134, p. 77–94
Title: Professor: Fluid-Rock Geochemistry and Biomineralogy, (she/her/hers)
Department: Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-8471