National Science Foundation: Frey 2010

Award Date: September 2010


Assistant Professor of Geology, Holli Frey, has been awarded a grant from the NSF's Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program for her project entitled "MRI: Acquisition of Laser Ablation System for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy at Union College."  The MRI program aims to improve the quality and expand the scope of research and research training in science and engineering by providing shared instrumentation that fosters the integration of research and education in research-intensive learning environments.  This award enables the Geology Department to acquire a CETAC LS-213 laser to couple with the existing PerkinElmer Elan 6100 DRC Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) to enhance geochemistry capabilities and do in situ analyses of solid materials.  For over 20 years ICP-MS has been an important part of the ethos of the Geology Department, and the Department has been a leader on the national scene with respect to the integration of ICP-MS studies in the undergraduate education setting.  The laser ablation (LA) system for the ICP-MS will allow faculty researchers to expand projects into new areas that are currently impractical or impossible with the current instrumentation.  The proposed research bridges several disciplines and includes the following projects: 1) trace elements in plagioclase as a test of magma mixing; 2) partitioning of Sr, Ba, Rb, Y, and REE in plagioclase; 3) trace element thermometry; 4) fission track dating and trace element composition of zircon; 5) diffusion profiles of trace elements as a proxy for cooling rates; 6) groundwater chemistry as recorded by minerals in dinosaur coprolites using redox-sensitive elements; 7) paleoclimate studies from tropical Andean lake cores; 8) barium in mollusk shells – a dual proxy of environmental conditions; 9) chemical analysis of laponite/polyaniline nanoassemblies; and 10) laser spectroscopy and art conservation.  LA ICP-MS will be integrated into individual faculty research, faculty and student collaborative research activities, and laboratory training exercises in Geology and Chemistry courses at various levels to enrich the research experiences of our undergraduates.