The current global demand for mineral commodities is at an all-time high and is projected to further increase over the coming decades. This increase is primarily driven by an ongoing energy transition, from non-renewable sources to renewable, clean energy applications such as wind, geothermal, and solar power. However, even with this vital dependency, major questions remain regarding the control on metal deposition, the source of enrichment, and the role of overprinting processes, such as surface remobilization or hydrothermal alteration.

1. Geochemical changes of trace metals and non-traditional stable isotopes related to large-scale geologic processes.

By utilizing a suite of non-traditional stable isotopes in conjunction with one another, we aim to directly measure and analyze controls on geochemical changes and their implications during subduction, metasomatism, ore genesis, hydrothermal alteration, and crustal recycling. This work seeks to answer questions such as: 

    • Do these processes impart a distinct geochemical signature on geologic materials?
    • If so, are there other controls affecting the geochemistry of these rocks, such as mineralogical variations or fluid fluxing?
    • Do multiple isotopic systems provide a consistent picture of elemental mobility and fractionation or do they provide a deeper insight into Earth processes?

2. The effects on geochemical signatures as elements move through the biosphere.

Many heavy metals are transferred from geologic material into the biosphere via uptake in plant material, which then enters into the food chain. While this can pose significant health threats in certain environments, it also provides new opportunities for understanding biologic transformations of contaminants, biogeoprospecting of ore material associated with certain heavy metals, and long-term passive monitoring of affected areas. As such, this work attempts to answer questions such as:

    • Do biologic processes, such as plant uptake, alter the geochemical signatures of heavy metals found in the underlying rock material?
    • Are any biologically-imparted variations consistent among plant or substrate type?
    • For redox-sensitive elements, do microbial interactions play any part in altering biogeochemical signatures?