Chloe Li
Mentor: Selby Cull-Hearth
Department: Geology

Research on Mapping on Mars and Iceland,  Total Synthesis of Ferrihydrite, and Database Construction

This summer, I am working with Professor Selby Cull-Hearth on four laboratory research project investigating mapping minerals on Mars, mapping alteration of Basalts on Iceland, total synthesizing Ferrihydrite, and creating a database of current minerals found.

The distribution in space and time of liquid water on Mars is relevant to astrobiology and astroclimatology. To date, most orbital observations that attest to past fluvial and lacustrine activity on Mars have been dedicated to surficial landforms. This summer we focus on the Valles Marineris. By using the CRISM database and analysis of optical spectrum, we will locate precise latitude and longitude of relevant papers, and then map the minerals and CRISM ID on google earth.

Ferrihydrite is a widespread hydrous ferric oxyhydroxide mineral at the Earth’s surface, and a likely constituent in extraterrestrial materials. It forms in several types of environments, from freshwater to marine systems, aquifers to hydrothermal hot springs and scales, soils, and areas affected by mining. This summer we aim to find a feasible method to synthesize Ferrihydrite in lab by chemical reactions of iron chloride and iron nitrate, and analyze its optical spectrum.

The alteration of basalts includes metamorphism and weathering of basalts. Basalts are important within metamorphic belts, as they can provide vital information on the conditions of metamorphism within the belt. Also compared to other rocks found on Earth’s surface, basalts weather relatively fast, so the calcium released by basalts will bind up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Basalts often are associated with the release of large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from volcanic gasses. So in this summer, we will access the database of the alteration of basalts on Iceland and map them in system to provide information to analyze and predict the volcanism on Iceland.

The last work is to create a database of all the minerals collected both within the U.S. and outside the U.S. The database will include the type of minerals, place found, collecting method, and other relative data of the minerals.