Presidential Scholars Adviser: Dr. Christopher Kelson
Reconstructing an ancient environment from an Alaskan core sample
The goal of this project is to determine the exact age and paleoenvironment of the ancient sea floor, which was mineralized with silver, from rock core samples recovered from the Greens Creek deposit. Determining the environment includes establishing the depth of the ocean water at the time of sediment deposition, water current direction and geochemical composition, the possible presence of a hydrothermal vent, sediment characteristics, and temperature. Micro- and macrofossils will be identified and stable isotope analysis, transmitted and reflected light microscopy, and various mineralogical and geochemical methods will be used to gather, interpret, and synthesize the data. I will use an electron microprobe to determine the elemental composition of the minerals and fossils, and stable isotope analysis to determine the temperature of mineral deposition and the source(s) of the minerals’ constituent elements. The end result will be a presentation and paper detailing my findings, which will be presented to the Greens Creek Silver Mine, to aid in locating future silver deposits.