PhD Candidate, Department of Geosciences
My research focuses on quantifying rates of shale weathering across a latitudinal climate gradient. I have field sites in Wales, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and Puerto Rico where I have worked with local collaborators to characterize the geochemical and physical properties of the soil and shale at these sites. Shale represents a substantial fraction of rock at the earth’s surface and is important not only as a source rock (and more recently a reservoir) for fossil fuel, but also as a common material that weathers to form soil. However, the rate at which shale weathers, and conversely the rate at which soil forms from weathering shale, is poorly understood. Changes in soil formation and erosion as a function of climate change could have significant impacts on agriculture, potentially affecting global food supplies and biofuel energy production. Quantifying the effect of climate on soil formation rates will enable society to forecast how ongoing climate change will impact our valuable soil resources.