27 July 2021
Dover, Dell. The National Science Foundation (NSF) of Delaware State University has awarded Dr. Gabriel Guanemesia a three-year HBCU Research Excellence Scholarship worth $672,000 to support mantle mineral research.
Dr. Guanezia, Professor of Physics and Engineers, will use the grant to support his current research project, titled “Effect of Wetting on Thermal Elastic Properties of Mantle Minerals and Geophysical Effects.” The scholarship is jointly funded by two National Science Foundation initiatives—Historically Black Colleges and Universities—Excellence in Research (HBCU-EiR) and Earth Sciences (EAR) programs.
The research focuses on wadsleyite and ringwoodite, two notable minerals found at depths from 410 to 660 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, in an area known as the transition zone. Laboratory and theoretical studies have confirmed that the bimetallic can incorporate up to 2-3 percent by weight (20,000 to 30,000 ppm) hydroxyl water into the structure, depending on pressure and temperature conditions.
Structural water causes significant changes in physical properties (such as electrical and thermal conductivity, melting, and rock flow), including how quickly earthquake vibrations travel through the mineral. Earth scientists also speculate that the mass of water in the minerals could easily exceed that of the world’s oceans, given the relative abundance of the Wadslite and Ringwoodite phases in the transition zone.
Dr. Guanmezia will use high-pressure techniques to manufacture synthetic samples of these mantle base minerals while controlling the water content in the laboratory and measuring the speed of sound waves (velocity) in the mineral. The study can solve persistent questions about anomalous increases in sound wave velocity in the transition region by comparing the study data with seismic vibration wave profiles from seismic studies. When combined with data from other fields of geophysics, the study results can greatly increase our knowledge of Earth’s structure and chemical composition.
The sample will be synthesized at the High Pressure Laboratory at Stony Brook University, Long Island, NY. Dr. Guanmesia will measure the velocities of sound waves under synchrotron X radiation at the Advanced Photon Light Source (APS) at Argonne. National Laboratory in Chicago.
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