Hot water: The impact of fluid flow on crustal radioactivity
Head into the field to analyse natural radioactivity of fluid-altered crust.
Crustal radioactivity affects crustal temperatures and thus has a potential influence on a wide range of crustal and lithospheric processes including melting, magmatism, and strength. High crustal radioactivity may also be indicators of possible mineralisation.
Models of crustal radioactivity imply that it decreases with depth, more so than one would expect from a changing bulk composition, but why? Possible explanations include fractionation and crystallisation processes, assimilation of enriched crustal material during ascent, and fluid redistribution.
Your task will be to explore the potential for fluid redistribution. Fluids, depending upon their composition, have the potential to mobilize heat producing elements (K, Th, and U) and redistribute them to different locations or stratigraphic depths.
In this project, you will study the magnitude of the redistribution on a couple of major crustal shear zones in Australia by collecting in-situ radioactivity and major element chemistry profiles across these shear zones. Your models will improve regional and global modelling of heat production distribution and temperature models of the crust and lithosphere.
How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we save our wildlife from extinction? Got an idea that will build a brighter, greener world?
Australian high school students are invited to submit a short video about one of Australia’s big science challenges.