David E. King Field Work Award
The David E. King Field Work Award is given annually to one or more full-time graduate students in the Department of Geosciences to support their research. Preference is given to projects that require support for field work. This Award was made possible by a generous gift from former graduate student Mr. David E. King (MS '84). In creating this Award, Mr. King noted that external funding had made it possible for him to conduct field work for his dissertation research. This Award provides a similar benefit for current graduate students.
Applications are available in March with a deadline for receipt in April
Past Recipients of the David E. King Field Work Award
Caitlin YoungSubmarine Groundwater Discharge on Long Island's North Shore
Analysis of Lava Flow Inflation Features and Chemical Weathering Patterns at the Mauna Iki Vent, Hawaii
Lynnette Pitcher187Re-187Os Dating of Black Shales from Late Pennsylvanian Cyclothems, Kansas
Rob WallaceThe Assessment of a Solar Disinfection Method for Water in the Kondoa Region, Tanzania
Submarine Groundwater Discharge on Long Island's North Shore - Caitlin Young (Faculty advisor - Prof. Gilbert Hanson)
Contributions of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) to coastal embayments are estimated at ≥ 20% of total surface water inputs. Groundwater nitrogen, a non-point pollution source, discharges into embayments via SGD and may contribute a significant fraction of total nitrogen to surface water bodies such as Long Island Sound. Fresh groundwater traverses the bottom sediments of the embayments and interacts with the overlying saltwater in a zone defined as a subterranean estuary. Investigations in other coastal areas conclude that the subterranean estuary is a highly reactive zone where nitrogen attenuation can occur over 10-50 meter distances during SGD. The aim of this study was to use dissolved N2/Ar measurements to quantify groundwater denitrification during SGD through two subterranean estuaries of Long Island Sound embayments. This study also aimed to determine the spatial extent of SGD in an embayment by combing aerial infrared imagining and 222Radon measurements, which when combined, provide a robust estimate of the fresh fraction (i.e nitrogen rich) inputs of SGD. Results from year 1, which investigated Stony Brook Harbor, indicate that 0-50% of groundwater sourced nitrogen is denitrified during transit through the subterranean estuary when SGD exits at or near the low tide mark. Conversely, a smaller portion of SGD exits through the carbon rich muddy harbor floor, and experiences 80-100% denitrification.
Preliminary year 2 results, using a combination nitrogen porewater profiles, infrared imaging (IR) and 222Radon, indicate maximum discharge rates of nutrient rich groundwater occur along the east and southeast harbor shoreline. Current data analysis yields daily nitrogen discharge rates from SGD into Port Jefferson Harbor exceeds daily nitrogen inputs from sewage treatment plant outfall. Our findings underline the importance of including SGD derived nitrogen inputs in nitrogen mass balance models, utilized to make land management planning decisions that protect coastal waters.
Analysis of Lava Flow Inflation Features and Chemical Weathering Patterns at the Mauna Iki Vent, Hawaii – Jessica Arnold (Faculty advisor – Prof. Timothy Glotch)
Mauna Iki is a small shield volcano on Kilauea's southwest rift zone formed during an eruption spanning from December 1919 to August 1920. The eruptions produced predominantly pāhoehoe lavas, however, 'a'ā and toothpaste lavas were produced as well. Other features observed in the lava field include collapsed lava tubes and sheet collapse pits. This area has several characteristics commonly associated with lava inflation features, including low, but constant effusion rates and shallow slope surfaces. Inflation usually takes the form of either plateaus, which can span hundreds of meters to kilometers, or rounded mounds called tumuli, which are roughly tens of meters in diameter and 1-10 meters in height. Inflation plateaus form extensive sheets without well developed channels or tubes, while tumuli might correspond to lava pathways or tubes, which form beneath the surface and partially inflate. Why one form or another predominates is not well understood and tumuli happen to be the prevalent form at Mauna Iki.
In this project we will collect Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) topographic data across both types of inflation features and map contacts between different flow textures. These measurements will provide a better understanding of the factors that determine which type of inflationary feature is expressed at a given site and the degree of connectivity between inflation features within the overall flow field. Additionally, this topographic information can aid in identifying and interpreting inflation features on Mars and other planetary surfaces based on remote sensing data.
An additional project goal is to understand the effect that surface textures and weathering rinds have on remotely sensed visible/near-infrared (VIS/NIR) and mid-IR spectra of surfaces. There is evidence from the Alpha Particle–X-Ray Spectrometer on-board the Spirit rover that rocks within Gusev crater on Mars have undergone minor aqueous alteration. Such alteration would be similar to that seen in basaltic lavas within semi-arid regions on Earth, like Mauna Iki's location within the Ka'u desert. Many of the rocks in this region have a very thin (12-18 μm) yellow/orange coating, making the site ideal for VIS/NIR and mid-IR studies of alteration rinds, volcanic glass and their comparison to observed spectra of Martian rocks. Surfaces with the colored coating have markedly different composition from the regular volcanic glass surface. The mid-IR reflectance and emissivity spectra of the collected samples were compared with both Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) and Mars Pathfinder data. The Mauna Iki glass was not a good spectral match for Martian basalt as observed by either TES or Pathfinder, with coated surfaces showing a greater dissimilarity. Although the coatings are chemically distinct from the underlying glass, it is not known how much their presence alters estimates of mineralogy based on remote sensing data. The aim of fieldwork at Mauna Iki will be the collection of VIS/NIR, mid-IR and XRF/XRD field data of both coated and non-coated surfaces with varying degrees of weathering from multiple lava flows.
187Re-187 Os Dating of Black Shales from Late Pennsylvanian Cyclothems – Lynnette Pitcher (Faculty advisor – Prof. Troy Rasbury)
The Late Paleozoic experienced one of the most extensive periods of glaciation recognized in Earth's history, and its geologic record illustrates many comparisons to the present-day climate system. It is the only pre-Pleistocene record of extensive glaciations in a vegetated world, sea level was low, it was a time of aragonite seas, and there were high-frequency, high-amplitude cycles (cylothems). Since there is a record of the Late Permian and Mesozoic emerging from this icehouse into the greenhouse world, researchers have turned to this interval to better understand our current climate situation and particularly to more fully address the role of pCO2 on global warming. Recent work on the glacial sedimentary record from Australia and Antarctica is demonstrating that during the late Paleozoic, there were ice-free periods punctuated with intervals of glaciation. It is thought that during the Pennsylvanian (Missourian) the Earth was nearly ice-free; however, some of the best-developed cyclothems from this interval are of Missourian age. Of these Missourian cyclothems the Kansas-type cylothems, located in Kansas, are the most extensively studied alternating stratigraphic sequences of marine and non-marine sediments to date.
This presents us with a conundrum, as most geologists accept that the waxing and waning of Gondwana glaciers is responsible for the changes in sea level, which resulted in the construction of these cyclothems. Currently the age constraints for these deposits are based on global correlation of conodont fossils. Some volcanic ashes have been recognized through this succession, and none are known from the Missourian strata. The 187Re-187Os system in black shales has been shown to be an effective means of dating; recent advances in the technique demonstrate that uncertainties of better than 1% of the age can be obtained. The project under consideration here is for field work in Kansas, through collaboration with Dr. Lynn Watney and Dr. Even Franseen from the Kansas Geological Survey, to sample black shales in cores from the extensive core repository and to examine the black shales in outcrops to obtain a better understanding of the geological setting. The ultimate goal of this research is to be able to estimate the cycle periods and to tie into a global framework with reliable ages. The Master's thesis work will be to establish techniques at Stony Brook for Re-Os dating of black shales and to test the potential for dating core black shales from Kansas.
The Assessment of a Solar Disinfection Method for Water in the Kondoa Region, Tanzania – Rob Wallace (Faculty advisor – Prof. Martin Schoonen)
In sub-Saharan Africa, water-borne diseases pose a serious public health burden because of the lack of safe drinking water. In countries such as Tanzania, E. coli and other bacteria account for as much as 18% of infant deaths. Simple solutions are desperately needed that will provide safe drinking water. One simple, albeit imperfect, solution practiced in countries like Tanzania is solar disinfection. It is common for rural communities in Tanzania to collect water in clear plastic bottles and leave them exposed to the sun for a good part of the day before consumption. The solar exposure has been proven to promote the disinfection of the water, but the role of mineral particulates in the unfiltered water is unknown. My research project seeks to investigate the role of minerals in this solar disinfection process and possibly increase the efficiency of the process by adding specific minerals. As demonstrated in earlier work by Prof. Schoonen's group at Stony Brook, mineral slurries may spontaneously generate hydroxyl radicals, which are known to kill pathogens. By adding specific minerals, it may possible to generate sufficient amounts of OH radical to kill off most of the harmful bacteria.
The first task is to observe the solar disinfection method in practice. Besides observing, I plan to conduct a field count of E. coli bacteria on several waters before and after solar disinfection using the current practice. Although these field counts can be done in situ, it would be preferable to return the samples to Stony Brook University for counting, as it would allow more time to collect samples. We will also measure solar intensity over the duration of the protocol. The field trip will occur winter time in the southern hemisphere. This is when solar intensity is lowest; hence, this is when the efficiency of the disinfection process may be at its lowest and addition of supplemental minerals might be most useful. Samples will be taken of sediment in a hand-dug well to assay which minerals are common in the soil. This will be performed by filtering a sufficient amount of water to collect about 500 mg of material. The filtering will be done by hand over a 0.45 micron filter. The filters will be collected and taken back to Stony Brook for analysis by X-ray fluorescence to determine elemental composition. If sufficient material is available we will also use non-destructive techniques (XRD, FTIR and Raman) to determine the mineral content.
I also plan to collect samples from local rock outcrops to evaluate what other minerals might be available as supplemental materials to boost the efficiency of the process. The focus is on freely available materials that could be easily collected, ground and added to the water. For example, earlier work in Schoonen's group has shown that forsterite and fayalite, as well as freshly ground quartz spontaneously produce OH radicals. If possible, we would take small samples of materials back to Stony Brook for characterization and use in laboratory studies that simulate the solar disinfection process in Schoonen's lab. These laboratory experiments will be conducted using benign strains of E. coli to investigate their viability under conditions similar to those of rural Tanzania.
News & Announcements
Geosciences Department Newsletter
Professors John Parise and Artem Oganov pursue Materials Genome Initiative
Professor Deanne Rogers finds evidence for past groundwater on Mars
Professor Robert Liebermann accepts Edward A. Flinn Award
Professor Scott McLennan selected for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Team