Graduate Student Research

This geological sample from Exploration Vessel Nautilus will be analyzed by Coralie Rodriguez to determine its composition.

Coralie Rodriguez, URI

Coralie Rodriguez is a Ph.D. student at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Her OECI-supported research focuses on ferromanganese crusts and nodules, which are marine mineral deposits, composed mostly of iron and manganese oxides. Additional earth elements can be incorporated into these crusts and nodules, including rare and valuable metals (i.e. cobalt, titanium, nickel, platinum, and zirconium) that can reach concentrations that are economically valuable. However, little is known about the factors that govern the enrichments of certain metals.

Coralie’s research will investigate the origins and conditions of ferromanganese (Fe-Mn) crust formation on Pacific seamounts. These kinds of crusts are widely distributed throughout Earth’s ocean basins, yet the conditions by which they form and the factors controlling their composition remain elusive. In addition, these crusts are potentially large reservoirs of economically valuable elements, which motivates a broader interest in their geochemistry. Coralie is currently looking at the concentrations of transition metals and rare earth elements in samples collected aboard two E/V Nautilus cruises (NA110 and NA114) using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). She will use these sample-derived data along with vehicle data of water properties at each collection point to test hypotheses relating to the factors that govern Fe-Mn crust formation and composition.