My research is fundamentally based on aqueous and isotope geochemistry. In general, I investigate carbon cycling (in particular, CO2) on both modern and geologic timescales, but my research spans a variety of landscapes and tools.
A major theme of my research is understanding silicate chemical weathering, a natural process with controls Earth’s atmospheric CO2 levels on long timescales, and ultimately regulates global temperatures. To this end, I have conducted studies on chemical weathering in Iceland, New Zealand, and Greenland. My studies on Iceland addressed the growing debate on whether chemical weathering of volcanic terranes, such as Iceland, have a disproportionally large impact on Earth’s long-term atmospheric CO2 levels. My research in Fiordland, New Zealand investigated the extent to which plant biogeochemical cycling alters the primary signatures of weathering in rivers. My work in Greenland challenged the long-held assumption that ice sheets, like valley glaciers, largely weather non-silicate minerals regardless of bedrock composition.
Chemical weathering is also the backbone of my current post-doctoral research into Enhanced Rock Weathering (EW), a new climate change mitigation strategy. As part of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M), we are implementing the first large-scale field tests of EW, which seeks to optimize the natural controls on chemical weathering such that large quantities of CO2 are sequestered on human, rather than geologic, timescales, thereby reducing anthropogenically-induced climate change. Current field trials are underway at the Energy Farm at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and at Wilmar Oil Palm Plantation, Malaysia.
Finally, my research extends to the development of new analytical techniques. I spent a significant portion of my PhD developing a TIMS* method for measurement of stable Sr isotopes. I am broadly interested in understanding the fractionation of non-traditional stable isotopes (e.g., Sr, Ca, Mg) and the application of these isotope systems to answering Earth surface process questions.
* TIMS: Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer