Ross Salerno

Department of Earth Sciences

204 Heroy GL


Ross's CV

Undergraduate Student Earth Sciences
Advisor: Scott Samson

Research Interests

My present research with Professor Scott Sampson is an investigation into utility of detrital monazite as a possible geochronometer for North America’s orogenic history. Detrital zircon has predominantly served as an effective dating tool in reconstructing the orogenic histories of continents. But due to zircons physical and chemical resilience, it might fail to represent certain tectonic events in a high resolution, as seen in Grenville dominated age trends within Appalachian alluvium. Monazite is a physically softer mineral, lessening the chance that it will be cycled multiple times in the rock record. Monazites forms under conditions allowing for a better record of lower temperature orogenic and tectonic events. Forming in solid state metamorphic relations this rare earth phosphate (Ce, La) PO4, might give new insight into the Appalachian orogenies. Detrital monazite has yet to play a major role in geochronologic provenance analysis, but the few already published studies suggest the potential for this mineral being effective at recording such events. We seek to consult the monazite record of Mississippi River detrital sediments. As the Mississippi River basin has such a large catchment, we suspect samples from this locality will be representative of alluvium derived from the Appalachian Mountains. While in theory such a task may seem simple, great difficulty lies in the initial processing and separation of usable monazite grains.  We have begun to perfect methods aimed at enhancing the extraction of useful monazite on samples already collection. Having just received funding for the upcoming field season and geochronologic analyses, we soon will get to work collecting and analyzing more monazite from several localities along the Mississippi! We hope this project will produce new methods and insight onto orogenies of our continent!

Mineral Separation in fume hood
Monazite grains on carbon tab