High Temperature Isotope Geochemistry LaboratoryAntonio Simonetti

GRADUATE/UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Eoghan Corbett (Naughton Fellow, Trinity College Dublin/University of Notre Dame): Eoghan is a PhD student predominantly based in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He is working in close collaboration with Notre Dame’s Geoscience department to refine high-spatial resolution micro-beam techniques used in U-Pb dating, with a particular focus on laser sampling. He hopes to progress our understanding of micro-beam sampling, and characterise the effect incident laser radiation has on the behaviour of the target minerals. He is also interested in phenomena observed in the readily utilised mineral chronometer, zircon. Further characterising zircon in terms of its U-Pb dynamics under certain conditions, will improve confidence in age determinations especially for ancient zircons.     

 

 

Corinne Kuebler - Corinne began her PhD thesis work on Isotope Geochemistry in the summer of 2017. Her work focuses on the delineation of the mantle source for carbonatites. Through both radiogenic and stable isotopic signatures, it is the goal of her work to investigate the mantle carbon cycle and provide insight into the generation mechanism of carbonatite magma.

 

 

 

 Omer Ozkaya - Ömer began his MS studies in Fall 2018 with the support of National Education Ministry of Turkish government. He is trying to understand advanced isotope geochemistry methods (radiogenic, stable), and attaining this objective while investigating the geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of the alkaline rocks and carbonatites from the Magnet Cove Complex in Arkansas.

 

 

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH FELLOWS

Loretta Corcoran - Loretta obtained her PhD in September 2016 from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her work focused on evaluating the marine cycle of platinum and the potential of the platinum stable isotopic system as a tracer of changing marine chemistry. This work included constraining the mechanism of incorporation of platinum onto ferromanganese oxide substrates and the associated platinum isotopic fractionation.

Her Nuclear Forensics work will involve the chemical and isotopic characterization of a global suite of primary and secondary uranium minerals, which will contribute to the provenance analysis previously conducted on North American uraninite samples. In addition, pristine and altered samples from various locations will be analyzed to evaluate variations observed locally due to alteration.

 

PREVIOUS GRADUATE/UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Tyler Spano- Tyler began her graduate work with Dr. Peter C. Burns in September of 2012. Her research with the Burns group focuses on the crystal chemistry of uranyl vanadate minerals and uptake and retention behavior of uranium by hyalite opal. In January 2015, Tyler began to be co-advised by Dr. Simonetti and Dr. Burns. Her nuclear forensics research with the Simonetti group investigated trace element signatures for provenance analysis of uranium rich materials. She also explored partitioning behavior of lanthanides in uranium ores and concentrates at various stages in the nuclear fuel cycle. Tyler successfully defended her PhD dissertation in September 2017. Tyler then began a 1-year postdoctoral position at UND partially supported by a ND Energy Postdoctoral Fellowship. In December 2018, she began a postdoctoral position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN.

 

Corinne Dorais - Corinne began her PhD work during the summer of 2014 with Dr. Amy Hixon. In February 2015, Corinne joined the lab of Dr. Simonetti, who co-advised her along with Dr. Hixon. Her nuclear forensics work with Dr. Simonetti focused on the development of natural standards that can be used to determine and validate chemical and isotopic signatures at high spatial resolution. Corinne also conducted and gained experience with Mo isotope analyses of uraninite samples using a double-spike method and MC-ICP-MS instrumentation. Corinne successfully defended her doctoral dissertation in March 2019, and recently began a postdoctoral researcher position at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA.

 

Maloney Foster - Maloney began his undergraduate senior thesis work on nuclear forensics in the summer of 2017. While working with and assisting the other members of the group, he investigated alteration's effects on uraninites and compared in-situ and solution-mode analysis techniques. He was an ACMS major with a minor in Environmental Earth Sciences and graduated in the Spring of 2018. He is now an officer in the US Navy.

 

Stefanie Lewis - Stefane began her MS research in the area of Nuclear Forensics in the fall of 2016. Her work entailed the investigation/characterization of uraninite. Stefanie completed and defended her MS degree in September 2018.

 

Sam Hulett- Sam began his MS research work in the summer of 2013 and defended his MS Thesis work in December 2015. Sam's research focused on using a range of stable isotopes (C, O, S, and for the first time, B) in carbonatites and associated alkaline rocks from multiple regions worldwide. This work represents the first complete look at the overall volatile content of carbonatite rocks. Sam's work integrated major and trace element data as well as other isotope measurements (e.g., Sr, Pb) in order to gain a more complete picture of carbonatites, their mantle sources, and their connections with global geochemical cycles.
Elizabeth Koeman- Elizabeth began her PhD thesis work in July of 2011 and completed her dissertation work in June 2015. Elizabeth focused on method development required for the separation of different minerals and glass phases from Trinitite using a NF3-based protocol, and the in-situ chemical and isotopic analysis of these materials. Her research work helped create a substantial database of chemical and isotopic analyses for Trinitite material. Elizabeth recently accepted a postdoctoral position at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, which begins in July 2015. In August 2018, Dr. Koeman-Shield accepted a position as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Geosciences, Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX.
Wei Chen- Wei began her PhD graduate research work in August 2010 and completed her work in June 2014. The main objective of Wei's PhD research work was to conduct a first-time, multi-faceted approach involving in-situ chemical (major and trace element) and isotopic (C, O, Sr, Nd, Pb) characterization of the dominant minerals (apatite, calcite) at the micron scale in carbonatites and associated alkaline Si-undersaturated rocks from the Oka carbonatite complex using a vast array of microanalytical techniques. She also conducted an extensive U-Pb dating investigation of the Oka complex via the analysis of several accessory minerals (e.g., apatite and perovskite) present within the alkaline rocks at Oka, along with a detailed investigation of melt inclusions within magnetite. In July 2014, Wei began her tenure as an associate professor at the China University Department of Geosciences in Wuhan, China.

 

Okay Çimen - Okay is trying to understand the geodynamic evolution of the Central Pontides (Turkey), Intra-Pontide and Neotethyan Oceans during the Mesozoic. His PhD research focuses on the petrology of meta-magmatic rocks within the Çangaldağ Complex (Central Pontide – Turkey), which plays an important role in the regional geology of Turkey. He is using whole rock geochemistry, Hf isotopes, and U-Pb dating methods in order to solve problems in relation to the geodynamic evolution of the Çangaldağ Complex. Okay defended his PhD dissertation in September 2016.

Website: www.okaycimen.com

Nick Civetta, B.S. Civil Engineering- Nick earned his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering in the spring (2011). Despite his main love of engineering, he nonetheless expressed a wish to conduct research in our ICP-MS facility. He worked as a research assistant in the ICP-MS facilty between Sept. 2009 and May 2011. He also conducted research work on the in-situ U-Pb dating and chemical characterization of zircon megacrysts from South African kimberlite deposits by laser ablation-ICP-MS analysis. Nick completed his MSc in May 2012 at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now playing professional rugby in Lazio, Italy.

Megan Dustin- Megan is a senior Environmental Geosciences major working on optical and chemical analysis of trinitite samples. In addition, she is also researching thermodynamic properties of the uranyl vanadate minerals with the Burns group. In the summer of 2013, she also participated in the Nuclear Chemistry Summer School at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Megan began her doctoral work at Stanford University, under the supervision of Prof. Rod Ewing, in August 2014.
Mary Kate Fidler, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Mary Kate worked in the ICP-MS facility as an undergraduate research assistant for several years. During the summer of 2011, she began her research work on several samples of trinitite, which included their petrographic and mineralogic characterization, and this was followed by SEM, TEM and in-situ laser ablation analyses. In August 2012, Mary began her PhD graduate work at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Tim Hainley, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Tim conducted undergraduate research in the Simonetti research group from May 2012 to May 2013. Tim worked primarily on the investigation of Trinitite, specifically looking at areas of alpha activity and the chemical composition of the nuclear debris. In addition to the Trinitite research, Tim conducted major element analyses (using an ICP-OES), and elemental (ICP-MS) and Sr isotopic analyses (MC-ICP-MS) of groundwater samples from the coastal region of Benin, Africa. Tim is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Malawi.

  

 

Paul Hurley- Paul was an Environmental Engineering major and graduated in the spring of 2016. He began work on Trinitite in June of 2014. When Paul was not analyzing inclusions in Trinitite, he assisted other members of the lab on their projects. Paul is now working in the private sector in Chicago.                                  

Allan Jones, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Allan worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the ICP-MS facility. In the Spring 2011 semester, he began an undergraduate research thesis focused on investigating the Sr and Pb isotopic nature and trace element signatures of feldspar phenocrysts at high spatial resolution within phonolitic lavas associated with several alkaline complexes of the Barmer area, west-central India. In August 2012, Allan began his PhD graduate work at the University of Texas (Austin).
Maddie Smierciak, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Maddie worked as an undergraduate research assistant between May and December 2012. She assisted in trinitite research through surficial and elemental SEM work and oxygen isotope analysis by laser fluorination. Maddie's work helped contribute to the field of post-detonation nuclear forensics. Subsequent graduation, Maddie obtained employment in the private sector.
Frederico Vilvalva (Departamento de Mineralogia e Geotectônica do Instituto de Geociências da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil) - Frederico was a visiting PhD student in our department between February and August 2011. Frederico's PhD research focuses primarily on the U-Pb, Lu-Hf, Pb-Pb, and Sr isotopic investigation of granites from the Morro Redondo Complex, Brazil, along with some key samples from other occurrences within the Graciosa A-type Province for comparative purposes. Frederico successfully defended his PhD thesis in the summer of 2012. In April 2013, Frederico accepted a faculty position within the Geology Department at the Federal University Do Rio Grande Do Norte (Natal, Brazil).
Christine Wallace- Christine Wallace began her graduate work with Dr. Peter C. Burns in 2009, studying the aqueous chemistry of uranium and nanoscale control of actinide materials. Christine subsequently began work on a post-detonation nuclear forensics project co-advised by Dr. Burns and Dr. Simonetti.  This project involved a multi-scale analysis of trinitite (melt glass from the Trinity test, the world's first atomic detonation), and encompassed a wide variety of analytical techniques. Christine successfully defended her PhD Thesis in April 2013, and is currently working for the State Department in Washington DC.
Zachary Torrano- Zack was an Environmental Geosciences major in the class of 2015 who began working in the Simonetti research group in June 2013. Zack conducted optical and chemical analysis of Trinitite through the use of petrographic microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Zack begins tenure of his doctoral dissertation at Arizona State University in the Fall of 2015.
Nolan Welsh, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Nolan worked with Tony between May 2012 and May 2013.  He first conducted research in the Fall 2011, investigating the Acidalia Planitia region of Mars using GIS for Prof. Ralph Milikian (now at Brown University). Nolan also assisted with the analysis of Trinitite, which included optical and BSE imaging, as well as EDS and electron microprobe analysis.  When Nolan is not pulverizing rocks in the laboratory, you can find him pulverizing the opposition on the rugby pitch. Nolan is currently employed with Schlumburger as a Wireline Engineer.

PREVIOUS POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH FELLOWS


Okay Çimen - Okay obtained his PhD degree from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in August 2016. His graduate research focused on investigating the petrology, geochemistry and geochronology of magmatic rocks within the Çangaldağ Metamorphic Complex (Central Pontide - Turkey), which helped decipher the tectono-magmatic history within Turkey and Black Sea region during the mid-Jurassic. For his postdoctoral research, Okay is working on deciphering the chemical and isotopic evolution of Earth's upper mantle by focusing on investigating the stable (C, O, and B) and radiogenic (Nd, Pb, Sr, and U-Pb) isotope signatures of carbonatites and associated alkaline rocks from worldwide sources. Dr. Cimen is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Munzur University, Turkey.

 

 

Tyler Spano- Tyler began her graduate work with Dr. Peter C. Burns in September of 2012. Her research with the Burns group focuses on the crystal chemistry of uranyl vanadate minerals and uptake and retention behavior of uranium by hyalite opal. In January 2015, Tyler began to be co-advised by Dr. Simonetti and Dr. Burns. Her nuclear forensics research with the Simonetti group investigated trace element signatures for provenance analysis of uranium rich materials. She also explored partitioning behavior of lanthanides in uranium ores and concentrates at various stages in the nuclear fuel cycle. Tyler successfully defended her PhD dissertation in September 2017. Tyler began a postdoctoral researcher position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in December 2018.

 

Enrica Balboni, PhD (University of Notre Dame): Enrica obtained her PhD at the University of Notre Dame in January 2015. Her doctoral work focused on actinide geochemistry and crystal chemistry. Between Jan. 2015 and Feb. 2016, Enrica worked on characterizing the chemistry of North American uraninite specimens as forensic tool for provenance analysis. Additionally she worked on identifying and developing best analytical approaches and protocols for rapid, accurate and precise analysis of materials of interest to nuclear forensic. Enrica began a postdoctoral position at Lawrence Livermore National Lab in March 2016.
Aaron Lussier, PhD (University of Manitoba): Aaron worked as an NSERC-funded post-doctoral researcher at the University of Notre Dame in the field of actinide geochemistry. In addition to having worked on issues pertaining to the mobility of uranyl-peroxo nanoclusters with Dr. Peter C. Burns, he also investigated the occurrence and distribution of detonation-related crystal defects in Trinitite with Dr. Simonetti. His graduate research focused on the mineralogy and crystallography of chemically complex rock-forming minerals such as amphiboles and tourmalines. In February 2017, Aaron joined the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa (Ontario), Canada as a research scientist.
Patrick Donohue, PhD (University of Notre Dame) - Patrick is a recent doctorate of Notre Dame, where he worked on tracing melt evolution through textural and mineral LA-ICP-MS analyses to document the origin and evolution of high-titanium mare basalts. He also researched the chemical and isotopic signature of Trinitite material. Patrick accepted (March 2015) a postdoctoral position at the University of Hawaii. web page
Sara Mana, PhD (Rutgers University) - Sara obtained her PhD working on the role of magmatism in rifting using radiogenic isotope and incompatible trace element geochemistry to infer the source and depth of melting in the North Tanzanian Divergence zone (East African Rift system). She has experience performing high-precision 40Ar/39Ar step-heating geochronology on mineral separates and matrix samples; ICP-OES and MC-ICP-MS measurements on whole rock digested samples and LA-ICP-MS on glass disks. Her experience in mass spectrometry will be applied to the study of in-situ chemical and isotopic analysis of the mineral phases included in Trinitite glass samples. Her research work helped distinguish the signature derived from the device’s tamper as compared to the geological background signature. Sara is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at Salem State University, Massachusetts.
Jeremy J. Bellucci, PhD (University of Maryland) - (Aug. 2011- Aug. 2013) Jeremy specializes in micron-scale isotopic systematics. His research interests are in understanding the spatially resolved chemical and isotopic chemistry of Earth materials. He investigated the chemical and isotopic composition of trinitite for the purpose of establishing a database for nuclear forensics and furthering the understanding of nuclear explosion chemistry. Jeremy is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum in Sweden.