Niccolò Satta

Niccolò Satta

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

I conduct experiments which investigate the seismic signature of deep Earth materials at pressures and temperatures of planetary interiors. Specifically, my research focuses on characterizing the high-pressure elasticity of candidate materials using Brillouin spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction experiments coupled to diamond-anvil cells (DACs), as well as performing time-resolved X-ray diffraction experiments under dynamic compression at high temperatures using our new resistively-heated dynamic DAC setup.

My research is part of the “Deep Earth Mantle Phase Transition Maps: Studied by Time-Resolved Experiments” (DEEP-MAPS) project. DEEP-MAPS is funded by a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council awarded to Prof. Hauke Marquardt.

Prior to joining the University of Oxford, I received a PhD from the Bayerisches Geoinstitut (BGI), University of Bayreuth (Germany) in collaboration with the Department of Earth Sciences of Tohoku University (TU) in Sendai, Japan. My PhD was part of the International Research and Training Group “Deep Earth Volatile Cycles” – a research program funded by the German Research Foundation. During my PhD, I mostly focused on evaluating the seismic detectability of hydrous material in subduction zones to better understand the deep recycling of water into the Earth’s interior. I have tackled this task by performing Brillouin spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction experiments on hydrous phases and minerals to constrain their single-crystal elasticity at Earth’s mantle pressures. Furthermore, during a six-month stay at the Department of Earth Sciences of TU, I moved my interests toward applying electron microscopy to the study of shock-related textures and transformations in lunar rocks collected during the Apollo 15 mission, as well as various types of meteorites.

Before this, I read for an MSc degree in Exploration Geology at the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy. During this degree, I visited the University of Potsdam (Germany) with the Erasmus+ program. Additionally, I did my MSc thesis at the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam (GFZ-Potsdam), where I focused on characterizing the elastic properties of members of the pyrope-almandine solid solution by Brillouin spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction experiments. I also hold a BSc in Earth Sciences from the Sapienza University of Rome, and I am a qualified technician for air transport.


Satta, N., Grafulha Morales, L. F.Criniti, G.Kurnosov, A.Ballaran, T. B.Speziale, S., et al. (2022). Single-crystal elasticity of antigorite at high pressures and seismic detection of serpentinized slabs. Geophysical Research Letters, 49, e2022GL099411.

Satta, N., Miyahara, M., Ozawa, S., Marquardt, H., Nishijima, M., Arai, T., and Ohtani E. (in press). Apollo 15 regolith breccia provides first natural evidence for olivine incongruent melting. American Mineralogist.

Satta, N., Criniti, G., Kurnosov, A., Boffa Ballaran, T., Ishii, T. and Marquardt, H. (2021). High-pressure elasticity of δ-(Al,Fe)OOH single crystals and seismic detectability of hydrous MORB in the shallow lower mantle. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL094185.

*Photograph from experiment featured on journal cover