Options for undergraduate student research projects with Russ Colson--2014
1) When a magma cools and crystallizes, some elements prefer to go with the crystallizing solid phases, and some stay with the melt. This results in the composition of the magma changing as crystallization proceeds. This is an important process in planetary differentiation--the process by which planets develop different compositions in different places. Knowing how the different elements partition into the different phases can help us understand how this differentiation occurs. In our lab, we study how the composition of the magma, and other conditions, can influence the way elements partition.
2) The chemical activity of elements in the magma also influences how the element partitions between phases. In our lab, we are studying what factors influence the variation in the activity of elements in the melt, particularly nickel, with the goal of being able to predict the variations in chemical activity under a variety of natural conditions in the Earth, or Moon.