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Teeny Tiny Zircon

Zircon, or zirconium silicate, is a hardy mineral that typically forms in igneous systems like volcanoes. It is hardy because it is not easily broken down by weathering processes but can remain intact for billions of years. In fact, the oldest mineral so far discovered on Earth is a zircon mineral that is 4.4 billion years old.

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Zircon Sighting

At last we have gotten to the zircon! This last step requires mad-scientist lab gear and some heavy liquids. They’re called heavy liquids because they are relatively dense- and this is what we are using for the final type of separation to get to the teeny tiny zircon. Zircon is a dense mineral (about 4.6 g/cm3) and will sink to the bottom of the slightly less dense heavy liquid, methylene iodine (3.3 g/cm3), while the majority of the other grains will float.

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Mr. Frantz

We tried to put it off but we could not avoid it- it is time to tackle the Frantz. The Frantz is a rather noisy machine that separates the magnetic and nonmagnetic components of our sample by running the grains between two electrically charged magnets. The point of all this is to further isolate the zircon minerals that we will be analyzing.

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Summer Crushing

Hello all! This summer I am back at Denison working on a project with Professor Erik Klemetti involving the magmatic evolution of the Lassen volcanic system in Northern California. Lassen is the southernmost volcano in the Cascades Range and has had eruptions as recently as 1915. Our goal is to analyze the zircon minerals that we extract from various samples representing different eruptions and phases of the system.

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GEOS 111: 100-year Floods

Many cities located on or around major rivers are concerned about the risk of a hundred-year flood and the implications and costs it would have for their city. Some are now beginning to look into protection projects that would mitigate a large flood.

A hundred-year flood is a flood that has a one percent chance of happening every year.

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