Award Date: May 2010
Assistant Professor of Geology, Holli Frey, has been awarded the Single Investigator Cottrell College Science Award through the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. The $35,000 grant for Dr. Frey's project "Weathering of Volcanic Rocks and their Influence on Regolith and Water Chemistry in the Deschutes Basin, Oregon" will support the development of a sustainable research program and enhance undergraduate involvement in research activities. The project includes the study of the differential weathering of volcanic rocks in the Deschutes Basin in central Oregon. In the field, the thickness of weathering rinds on basalt, andesite, and dacite clasts will be measured. Preliminary chemical analysis will be done in the field with an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) unit prior to sample collection. At Union College, mineral weathering and alteration of the weathering rinds compared to the cores will be characterized by thin-section petrography, X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The amount of chemical weathering will be assessed by XRF analysis for major and minor elements and inductively coupled mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for trace and REEs. This work will allow for the calculation of weathering rates and element mobility of different lithologies in a temperate climate zone with a significant precipitation gradient. In conjunction with this study, water samples from streams and springs in the Deschutes Basin will be analyzed for major, minor, and trace elements to determine chemical fluxes from weathering of different lithologies into the watershed. These types of weathering studies bear on the long-term balance of atmospheric CO2 as well as the natural inputs from rock and sediment breakdown into ground and surface water.