In the early 20th century graphite was mined near the village Ticonderoga in the eastern Adirondack Mountains– the pencil company it built still bears the Ticonderoga name. Graphite is still an important industrial mineral: its high melting point allows it to be used in high-temperature metal and chemical production processes, and is also used in products like brake-linings, lubricants, and batteries. This last item has only become more important in recent years, and graphite is and essential components to the Li-ion batteries that are ubiquitous in electronics; there is 10 kg of graphite in a hybrid car's battery and up to 70 kg in one that powers a fully electric car.
The Adirondack Mountains are made up of a package of Proterozoic rocks that were metamorphosed during a continental collision, and so the origin of the graphite-bearing rocks there has been obscured by overprinting effects, and is controversial. This project will use major element and isotope geochemistry to help understand the origin of the graphite in different rocks in different parts of the Adirondack mining district, and tie them to modern geologic models. This project will involve field work on some of the still-existing deposits. Samples from a 1917 survey of graphite deposits (on loan the NY State Museum) will be supplement samples collected in the field.
Students should have completed Geol 201 (Mineralogy + Geochemistry). The Geology Department encourages students interested in summer research to meet with potential faculty supervisors before submitting an application.
Number of Student Researchers
Applications open on 01/03/2022 and close on 02/04/2022