INTELLECTUAL MERIT: This project addresses the role of chemical environment on accessory mineral assemblages and trace element distribution as a consequence of contact metamorphism of country rocks by the Ballachulish Igneous Complex (BIC), Scotland. This area serves as an ideal natural laboratory to investigate hypotheses concerning the role of fluids in controlling accessory mineral stability and reactivity, development of mineral textures, and trace element mobility during metamorphism. Determining the causes of chemical reactivity of accessory minerals, and the consequences for trace element distribution and mobility in rocks, is fundamentally important for the application of trace elements in modeling geologic processes and the utility of accessory mineral data to interpreting crustal evolution. Research results are expected to be of great interest to geochronologists and petrologists who use accessory minerals to understand and quantify geologic processes.
BROADER IMPACTS: The project will involve graduate and undergraduate students in all aspects of the research, including instruction and training in the application and use of "state-of-the-art" instrumentation. Students will greatly benefit from interaction with collaborators by diversifying their practical experience and establishing the early stages of a professional network. Undergraduates will be required to prepare poster presentations for Texas Tech Geosciences Research Day, the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference, and will be provided opportunity to attend national scientific meetings. In addition, accessory minerals are natural analogues of some synthetic materials being developed to sequester toxic or harmful materials (e.g. radionuclides). This study will build upon the existing body of experimental work to quantify the role that lithology (chemical environment) has over the composition and behavior of geologic fluids and their impact on mineral stability. Furthermore, many trace elements (e.g. REEs) are economically important and development of improved models for their behavior in the presence of geologic fluids will contribute to models for exploration and development of these strategically important resources.