Frank Corsetti

Professor of Earth Sciences

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-6123
Office: ZHS 211

Faculty Profile on Departmental Website

Biographical Sketch

Frank studies the co-evolution of the Earth and its biosphere from a geobiologic perspective, searching for traces of life in deep (and not so deep) time—how has life affected the history of our planet, and how has the history of our planet affected the evolution of life? He is probably most noted for his studies of life during “Snowball Earth”, the most severe glaciation known that occurred ~700 million years ago, but other recent projects include the origin of animals, mass extinctions, and investigations into new biosignatures for use with ancient rocks on Earth and other locales in our solar system (e.g., Mars). Frank has studied rocks as old as 3.5 billion years and as young as those forming today, and field sites are located in the US, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Namibia, and China.


  • B.S. Geology, University of California, Davis, 1/1989
  • Ph.D. Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, 12/1998

  • Postdoctoral Training

    • Postdoctoral Researcher, UCSB, 1999-2000   

    Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

    Tenure Track Appointments
    • Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 03/2006-2008  
    • Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 09/01/2000-03/01/2006  
    Non-Tenure Track Appointments
    • Lecturer, Historical Geology, General Geology, and Field Paleontology, University of California, Santa Barbara, 01/01/1999-06/01/1999  


    • Corsetti, F. A. (2009). Extinction before the Snowball. pp. 386-389. Nature Geoscience.

    Journal Article
    • Petryshyn, V. A., Corsetti, F. A., Berelson, W., Beaumont, W., Lund, S. "Stromatolite lamination frequency, Walker Lake, Nevada; Implications for stromatolites as biosignatures." Geology (2012).
    • Loyd, S., Corsetti, F. A., Berelson, W., Lyons, T., Hammond, D. D. "A Novel Application of the Carbonate-Associated Sulfate Method: Insights into Varying Pathways of Microbial Meditation for Carbonate Concretions of the Miocene Monterey Formation, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v." Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta Vol. 78. (2012): 77–98.
    • Petryshyn, V. A., Corsetti, F. A. "Analysis of growth directions of columnar stromatolites from Walker Lake, western Nevada." Geobiology/Blackwell Vol. 9. (2011): 425–435.
    • Berelson, W. M., Corsetti, F. A., Pepe-Ranney, C., Hammond, D. E., Beaumont, W., Spear, J. R. (2011). Hot spring siliceous stromatolites from Yellowstone National Park: assessing growth rate and laminae formation. Geobiology. Vol. 9 (5), pp. 411-424.
    • Marenco, P., Corsetti, F. A., Bottjer, D. J. (2008). Environmental and diagenetic variations in Carbonate Associated Sulfate: An investigation of CAS in Early Triassic sedimentary rocks from the Western U.S.A. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta. Vol. 72, pp. 1570-1582.
    • Loyd, S., Becker, T. W., Conrad, C., Lithgow-Bertelloni, C., Corsetti, F. A. (2007). Time-variability in Cenozoic reconstructions of mantle heat flow: plate tectonic cycles and implications for Earth's thermal evolution. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. Vol. 104, pp. 14266-14271..
    • Bailey, J., Corsetti, F. A. (2007). Evidence of giant sulfur bacteria in Neoproterozoic phosphorites. Nature. Vol. 445, pp. 198-201.
    • Olcott, A., Corsetti, F. A. (2005). Biomarker Evidence for Photosynthesis During Neoproterozoic Glaciation. Science. Vol. 310, pp. 471-474.

    Honors and Awards

    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Fellow, Geological Society of America, 2012-2013   
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, USC College Award for General Education Teaching, 2010-2011   
    • USC Center for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Fellow, 8/1/2008-8/1/2011  
    • National Academies Kavli Frontiers in Science Conference Invitee, Fall 2007   
    • USC Mellon Mentorship Award, Faculty to Graduate Student Advising, 2006-2007   
    • Certificate of Appreciation, Geological Society of America, 2005  
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, 2004-2005  

    Service to the Profession

    • Member, Geological Society of America Graduate Student Grants Committee, 2002-2005  

    Conferences Organized
    • Poster Session Chair and Organizer, AAPG National Meeting, Long Beach, CA, I was the Poster Chair for the Technical program for the meeting (the whole meeting, not just one session...)., 2005-2007  

    Editorships and Editorial Boards
    • Associate Editor, Journal of Sedimentary Research, 2009-  
    • Editorial Board, Geobiology, 2005-  
    • Associate Editor, Palaios, 04/15/2006-04/15/2008  

    Professional Offices
    • Chair, Geological Society of America Geomicrobiology Division, 2010-2012  
    • Vice Chair, Geological Society of America Geomicrobiology Division, 2008-2010  
    • President, Pacific Section SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), 2009-2010   
    • President-Elect, Pacific Section SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), 2008-2009   
    • Secretary, Geological Society of America Geomicrobiology Division, 2006-2008  

    Professional Memberships
    • American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2010-  
    • Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM), 2000-  
    • Geological Society of America, Member, 1992-  

  • Zumberge Hall of Science (ZHS)
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0740
  • Phone: (213) 740-6106
  • Email: