Reports: UNI849442-UNI8: Effect of Sorting of Detrital Minerals within Depositional Environments on their Use as Provenance Indicators

Johan P. Erikson, PhD , Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Narrative for wrap up of ACS-PRF 49442 UNI 8

October 2011

Second Year of the Project

This narrative covers the second and final year of a PRF UNI grant. Most major expenditures were in the first year, such that this second year utilized only the remaining ~$10k. The biggest expenditures were for student support, for contracted services (primarily thin sections of light- and heavy-mineral sand fractions), for laboratory supplies, and for a 100X objective for the petrographic microscope (to facilitate the most challenging of mineral identifications).

Student research in light-mineral petrography was the major focus during the past year. Several aspects of the student research were beneficial and necessary for both the students and the PI. Not only were students involved in generation of petrographic data, but necessary mathematical and statistical procedures were appraised and adapted. In addition, students and the PI together worked to refine the process for identification of heavy minerals. The PI continued to collect heavy-mineral petrographic data on the previously collected samples.

Geologic field work was carried out in Chile in October, 2010, and though not supported by the grant, it was part of the same, larger project. This field work was comprised of collecting Recent alluvial sands in a transect from the Andean foothills to the Pacific. Much like the original project proposal, these samples will be analyzed and interpreted in terms of the relationship of mineral populations to depositional environment.

Effect on Students

The effect of this PRF UNI grant on students was extensive during this time period. Two students were directly supported by the PRF UNI grant. One of the grant-supported students will be a co-author on any paper(s) coming out of this research (this is in addition to another student from the first grant year who will be a co-author). This same student is likely to pursue graduate education in geology or geochemistry, despite that we have no geology major here at our institution. This is one of the clearest manifestations of the value of the PRF grant - without this grant, this student would not have had the opportunity to immerse himself in geologic/geochemical research, and therefore almost certainly would not be applying to graduate school in this field.

Three additional undergraduate students were involved in the project and benefitted from interaction and use of equipment purchased with grant funds. These students participated in field work and/or lab work and/or analytical procedures.

Students and grant-supported research appeared several times on the college website. This exposure to a wider audience naturally promotes student participation in scientific research. In addition, two students involved in this project have co-authored conference abstracts.

Effect on PI

The PI’s career has been advanced through this PRF UNI grant. The career of the PI benefits whenever students benefit. The previously mentioned student research activities regularly came to the attention of other faculty and administrators on campus, with the attendant benefit to the PI. As a result of the PRF UNI grant, the PI has been able to forge collaborative relations with scientists within the Appalachian Mountain Club and the U.S. Forest Service. Additional collaborations are being explored with several academic scientists as an outgrowth of this project. Conference presentations of PRF UNI-supported research have been made at a Geological Society of America meeting (2010) and at the 28th International Sedimentological Congress in Argentina (2010).

Future publications of the results of the project will be a tangible benefit to the PI.

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