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fieldwork

How do tectonics and erosion drive geochemical cycles?

 
 

Through erosion and weathering reactions, tectonics regulate ocean chemistry, the global carbon cycle, and long-term climate. However, understanding how these reactions occur and constraining their overall influence on Earth's surface remains elusive, especially in the geologic past. To answer this question, I measure both the physical controls and the chemical responses to erosion.

Specifically,  I am investigating how geomorphic processes such as landsliding drive chemical weathering. This work has taken me to some of the fastest eroding mountain ranges on Earth, including the Central Range of Taiwan and the Southern Alps of New Zealand. I combine traditional chemical approaches with high-resolution imagery, GIS techniques, and geomorphological measurements to understand the limits of weathering in response to mountain building.

 

How do floodplain processes overprint chemical signals?

 
 

The entirety of Earth history is understood only through the narrow lens of geologically preserved signals; inferring variability in the Earth system first requires understanding how these signals are formed, overprinted, and preserved. To answer this question, I quantify how weathering products are processed during transit on land and after burial in marine sediments.

For example, I use a range of molecular and isotopic tools to determine how different classes of organic carbon are variably sourced and overprinted when moving through river floodplains. Furthermore, weathering-derived clay minerals are thought to regulate the global carbon cycle and atmospheric oxygen levels by providing surfaces that protect organic carbon from respiration. However, little is known about their production in floodplains. My research couples isotopic and mineralogical tracers of weathering-derived clay production with classical principles of sediment production and transport to elucidate the influence of hydrology and sedimentology on the global carbon cycle.