The fire down below: Heat generation in the lower crust
Help develop a crustal radioactivity model using pieces of rock brought to the surface and trapped in lavas.
The chemistry of deep samples presents a paradox. Some limited studies of exposures of upturned sections of the crust indicate the concentrations of heat producing elements are systematically higher than observed among xenoliths with otherwise similar major element chemistry.
The aim of this project will be to expand the database of samples that can be used to determine the validity of these prior models of deep crustal exposures and xenoliths. If a systematic bias exists, then the goal will be to identify the source of this difference and establish which dataset should be trusted.
In either case, there are important implications for lithospheric temperatures and resistance to deformation as well as for the geochemical model of the Earth with consequences for mantle convection and the long-term cooling of the planet.
As part of this study, you will gain experience with methods for analysing large datasets (big data) throughbasic computer coding using Matlab and statistical techniques (including spatial statistics).