Geochemical Signature of Aeolian Material in Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

Jennifer Pierce


Many studies have characterized the composition and characteristics of wind-borne material in the American Southwest but little research focuses in the northern Great Basin/Pacific northwest. In August 2015, we installed 14 passive dust collectors across the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory (RCCZO) at varying elevations and distances. These passive dust traps collect seasonal dust samples and record modern dust input to soils. Each trap is sampled seasonally to quantify inter-annual variability in aeolian deposition and record the post-fire pulse of carbon and sediment. This study aims to identify the geochemical signature of incoming aeolian material and track any changes in composition. In the lab, dust samples were collected from traps and any impurities (insects, etc.) were removed. We analyzed dust samples using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to investigate the chemical signature of the dust. We compared this to prior studies of the chemical signature of dust from longer timescales using dust from vugs, soils, and bedrock. These results will inform a larger, related study on the role of fire in wind erosion in the Reynolds Creek Watershed.

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