Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crisp fall morning

The end of this week a cold front passed over Houston, lingered around cloudily yesterday, and then cleared away overnight. This morning (7 am) the temperature was 50 degrees F! It felt great.

Was going through some of my old photos trying to free up disk space. Here's a green anole photographed in the small botanical garden between the Geo and Bio labs (April 2011):

Vaccinium stamineum (Big Thicket, April 2011):

And this is a Blue pea from the UCLA botanical garden (Feb 2011):

OK, now back to work sitting at the kitchen table revising a manuscript.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Update: random stuff

Haven't checked in here in a while. Lots of new things on my plate - some extensions of current projects, others new projects, others seeds of projects. I feel slightly overwhelmed, but am trying to manage my time efficiently. I believe I have learned much and grown a lot in the past year, in more ways than one. What have I done in the past year and what do I hope to do in the remaining part of the year and next?

- Submitted my first paper, which I am very proud of and happy with, but it still is not yet in press (editorial bureaucracy I guess)... sigh!
- Brought what started as a "side" project (secondary PhD proposal) to fruition. I went out on a different limb for this project and looked at metasedimentary rocks. While I greatly enjoyed working on these rocks and will continue to do so, I realized that my true passion is for ultramafic rocks and the mantle lithosphere. But, I keep my mind open! It's just that when you find true love, it comes from deep down and it's unexplainable. Other loves can be cultivated, maybe that is how my love of crustal metamorphic rocks will be like. I am, and always will be, fascinated by anything that comes from the deep parts of the Earth… peridotites, eclogites, Cr-rich garnets, diamonds…

So those are two big things I did in the past year. Of course, many other things happened… but… What do I hope to do now?

- I thought that it would be cool to model how long garnet took to form in the metaquartzite xenoliths I studied for my 2nd paper. I think I came into this too naively. After reading some papers on related studies as well as exploring ways of how to model it, I realize that it is a difficult problem (solvable of course, but I'm not sure if it's the best battle to pick at the moment). It would involve boundary conditions in the host rock that change and move continually as the host becomes depleted (or even melts), among other big assumptions on initial conditions, etc. So, this is a path I went down and perhaps found a thicket full of thorns, but maybe in the future, I will be better prepared to think about it.
- I'm not giving up hope on the diffusion modeling though. I'm going to try to model Al depletion haloes in host orthopyroxene that exsolved garnet lamellae. I think this will be an easier problem, because 1) garnet and orthopyroxene are related by a well-known and calibrated Al net transfer reaction, 2) therefore a P-T path (or isobaric and varying T or isothermal and varying P) path can be modeled where the boundary conditions of the opx and garnet obey a known relationship, and 3) I can just look at the host opx and not worry about the garnet lamellae (because there is a relationship between garnet lamellae thickness and Al depletion halo width, so knowing one will give info on the other). Moreover, I think this is a problem with broader implications than the crustal metamorphic garnet issue, because the Al-in-opx-gt problem can provide insights into the cooling rate of the sub-continental arc lithosphere.
- I started working with an undergrad, Brittany Brown, on some interesting cumulate xenoliths and basalts from the East African Rift in Tanzania. We only just started, so things are still in exploratory mode. I'm looking forward to some new data - crushing rocks with the mill, dissolving them, then analyzing them on the ICPMS. Currently Brittany analyzed a lot of minerals using the laser, and we are now in the process of looking at the data. I think it will be very interesting (more details on why in another post).
- I have a few side projects on the back burner... One project involves extending the peridotite trace element partition coefficient database to include garnet, and another involves caveats when using Al-in-opx and Fe-Mg thermometry.

Anyway… that’s what I have been up to scientifically.

On another note, I finally have gotten into birdwatching more seriously (meaning I got a good pair of binoculars!). It’s kind of addictive. It’s like treasure hunting… hunting for tiny vibrant, vivacious treasures that move and flit about rapidly (warblers). I really like it and I can see why some people are crazy about birds. When you look at them up close, they’re not only beautiful, but each one is unique and has its own behavior and mannerisms. Birds must be emotional creatures. Why do they sing even when they’re already married?

I leave you with a few photos I took last year along the California coast: