Student: Tanner Harstock, Undergraduate Student in Geoscience, University of Iowa
Research Mentor: Ingrid Ukstins-Peate
Utilizing an Earth analog for studying the alteration of igneous protoliths on the Martian surface
My research topic involves utilizing Earth analogs for studying the alteration of igneous protoliths on the Martian surface. Askja is a caldera volcano located in the central highlands of Iceland. Like Mars, this remote region of Iceland is a cold desert environment dominated by eolian sediment transport. Mars basalts are compositionally different from most terrestrial eruptions, with high magnesium as well as high iron. Few places on Earth have Mg- and Fe-rich basaltic volcanics being reworked by eolian processes in a cold desert environment, and for this reason Askja is among the best terrestrial analogs for Mars. My research is concerned with the geochemistry and petrography of an eruption that occurred in late 1961. The ferro-basalt erupted is very similar to basalt on Mars and could help us better understand alteration processes on different planets. My geochemical data will ultimately be used in a larger study to source wind-blown mafic sand deposits and link them with potential protoliths.