Chemical weathering and associated sedimentary processes
Chemical weathering is a fundamental process on Earth that primes carbon dioxide for removal from the atmosphere and storage in sedimentary rocks, generates life-sustaining soil at the surface, and produces much of the dissolved flux of elements from continents into the hydrosphere that are needed as nutrients in the oceans. Chemical weathering can be studied at different points along the sedimentary cycle continuum, from source (starting rock exposed to chemical weathering) to sink (deposition of eroded sediment or removal of dissolved chemical species from waters in minerals). The BRG focuses research on the mineralogy and detailed elemental and isotopic chemistry of weathering profiles/paleosols or clastic sediment/sedimentary rocks. Specific interests are often related to the development of new geochemical proxies for chemical weathering intensity, specific mineral reactions, and extreme conditions of Eh and pH. There is also emphasis on better understanding the importance of mafic-ultramafic rock weathering and its relationship to atmosphere-ocean chemistry in modern and ancient Earth surface environments. The latter rock types play an especially important role in C removal from the atmosphere, supplying specific bioessential elements for life in aquatic environments, and introducing reactive Fe minerals into surface environments that scavenge and disperse trace metals across Earth's surface environments. A better understanding of mafic-ultramafic rock weathering and sediment transport on Earth is also vital to understanding the weathering of similar rocks on other planetary surfaces, most notably Mars.