Understanding Our Evolving Earth and Its Natural Resources
Recent advances in geochemical methods have provided exciting new insights into how the Earth has evolved over nearly 4.6 billion years to become a habitable planet with plentiful natural resources.
Using these new geochemical methods, Dr. Brian Kendall, Canada Research Chair in Redox-Sensitive Metal Isotope Geochemistry, is trying to increase our understanding of how the Earth became capable of hosting complex life. His research will also help find and manage the natural resources that are critical to sustaining civilization.
Using specialized mass spectrometry methods, Kendall and his research team are analyzing rocks and their minerals to understand the isotopic composition of their redox-sensitive metals, such as molybdenum, uranium, iron, thallium and rhenium. These analyses, together with more traditional petrography (description of minerals and rocks) and elemental geochemistry, will provide them with new information on geological and environmental processes.
They will use this analytical approach to study the formation of key ore deposit types that are critical to the Canadian economy. They will also determine how modern environmental changes influence redox-sensitive metal isotopes in ocean and lake sediments. In addition, Kendell and his team will study how ocean chemistry has changed through time, and explore how it influenced the timing of the initial appearance and subsequent evolution of animals.
Kendell’s research will improve ore genesis models, help locate new ore deposits, and identify high-grade ore zones within existing deposits. By improving our understanding of how complex life and the environment co-evolved on Earth, this research could also help guide the search for complex life on extrasolar planets.