Goldschmidt2013 – Day 1 (Monday)

Wow! I have finally arrived at Goldschmidt 2013 and it is so, so great to be here! Day 1 was already a whirlwind. Unfortunately, I missed the icebreaker last night and arrived a bit late this morning due to scheduling conflicts so I missed a few talks, but I am here now and ready to listen, learn, discuss and blog!


Talks I went to today:


Sadly, I missed the first talk I wanted to see. My friend, Erin, from uOttawa presented her research at 9:30, while I was still in the Florence airport so I missed out on that one. Her work is titled Fluid Evolution Recorded by Alteration Minerals along the P2 Reverse Fault and Associated with the McArthur River U-Deposit and the abstract can be viewed here. Basically, water running along a fault making all sorts of strange minerals and carrying lots of radioactive goodness.


So the first talk that I actually watched was by Mitch Kerr from Saint Mary’s University and was entitled Preliminary Evaluation of Trace Hydrocarbon Speciation and Abundance as an Exploration Tool for Footwall-Style Sulfide Ore, Sudbury Igneous Complex, Ontario, Canada (abstract). The talk raised some fascinating points about using the occurrence of light, thermogenic hydrocarbons as a possible took for exploration of platinum group elements in the Sudbury Impact Crater. Indeed, the results showing the different types of light hydrocarbons and their relationship to ore bearing zones was very promising.


Next was a talk by Wooyong Um from Pacific Northwest National Lab about Limited releases of U and Tc from Hanford tank residual wastes (abstract). The talk explored how to safely close radioactive waste storage tanks located at the Hanford site. The waste will be moved to a long term repository, but some sludge will remain on the bottom that contains high concentrations of uranium and technetium. This talk compared the efficacy of three methods for immobilizing the U and Tc that remains in the tanks by creating minerals that will bind the U and Tc and make it unavailable to groundwater leaching. The authors found that all three techniqies they attempted were successful and preventing leaching of U and Tc. So a good news story all around!


I then speed walked over to another session where keynote speaker M.O. Andreae from the Max Plank Institute was asking if any answers were blowing in the wind. Seriously though he was Can Saharan dust explain extensive clay deposits in the Amazon Basin? Radiogenic isotopes as tracers of transatlantic transport (abstract). He attempted to answer this question using a number of isotopic and geochemical methods. He used total geochemistry, lead, strontium and neodymium isotopes to show that unambiguously the Amazon clay does not come from Saharan dust despite visual evidence showing it across the Atlantic. Indeed, the source of the Amazon clay deposits turned out to be the high rate of weathering of the bedrock due to the humid conditions. However, Dr. Andreae also found that the despite the fact the clay is not from the Sahara a substantial amount of the nutrient potassium is transported to the Amazon from the Sahara. Very cool!


The last talk for me but not least was by fellow Canadian Chris Weisener from the Unversity of Windsor. His talk: Bacterial Mineral-Metaloid Redox Transformations in Anaerobic Environments (abstract) covered how bacteria can influence the uptake of heavy metals into the mineral jarosite, which is found in many low pH, iron/suplhur rich environments. Indeed, almost all mine drainage sites have jarosite. Chris showed that metals such as selenium can actually be incorporated into the jarosite mineral structure by bacteria which reduce them for food and in doing so make these metals available for incorporation.

I followed this up with a quick visit to the Goldschmidt press conference to hear about the work of Victor Sharygin of the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy in Novosibirsk, Russia. Dr. Sharygin talked about how the Chelyabinsk meteorite may have had a brush with the Sun before falling to Earth because it shows signs of having been melted prior to colliding with Earth. Furthermore, the meteorite also contained some very interesting and unusual mineralogy and mineral morphology such as sceptors made of platinum, osmium and iridium in the fusion crust of the meteorite. This press release has already picked up some international coverage and more complete articles can be found here.


Thanks for reading. I am excited for what great discoveries Day 2 will hold.