After completing his dissertation on sheet silicates and receiving his doctorate, Bassett was a research associate in geochemistry at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he used the potassium-argon dating method to determine the age of a variety of rocks. In 1962 he joined the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Rochester. There, he conducted research on the effects of high pressure and high temperature on the properties and phase relationships of minerals. In 1978 he became a member of the geological sciences faculty at Cornell. In 1985 he received a Guggenheim fellowship for study at the University of Paris, and in 1994 he received the Roebling Medal for his work in mineralogy. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the Mineralogical Society of America. In 1997 he won the Bridgman Award, given by the International Association for High Pressure Research.

Research Interests

The experimental mineralogy group studies the properties of minerals under high pressure and temperature to better understand the nature of the materials that make up the earth's interior. We use an infrared YAG laser source to heat samples while they are under pressure in diamond anvil cells. We also utilize the intense x-ray beam from the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) to make real-time diffraction studies and observe phase-transformation mechanisms under high pressures and temperatures in the diamond anvil high-pressure cell. We are currently conducting experiments on hydrothermal systems at high pressures and temperatures in the diamond-anvil cell.

Selected Publications

  • Bassett, W.A., Chou, I.-M., Anderson, A.J., Mayanovic, R. (2005) Aqueous chemistry in the diamond anvil cell up to and beyond the critical point of water, in, Chemistry at Extreme Conditions, Ed. M.R. Manaa, Chap 7, pp 223-238, Elsevier.

  • Bassett, W.A. (2005) Diamond anvil cell, in, Encyclopedia of Condensed Matter Physics, Elsevier, CMPH: 00488, 1-9

  • Bassett, W.A. (2006) Deviatoric stress: a nuisance or a gold mine?, J. Phys. Condens. Matter 18, S921-S931.

  • Mibe, K., Chou, I.-M., Bassett, W.A. (2008) In situ Raman spectroscopic investigation of the structure of subduction-zone fluids, J. Geophys. Res 113, B04208, doi:10.1029/2007JB005179, 2008

  • Bassett, W.A. (2009) Diamond Anvil Cell, 50th Birthday, High Pressure Research 29, 163-186.

Selected Awards and Honors