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 Science Magazine Publishes SRU Geology Faculty's New Findings on Valuable Ores in Canada 

 

SPOTLIGHT

Jan. 13, 2006
Gordon Ovenshine: 724-738-4854; gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu
 
SCIENCE MAGAZINE PUBLISHES ‘EDITOR'S CHOICE’

ON SRU GEOLOGY FACULTY’S NEW FINDINGS ON ORIGINS

OF VALUABLE ORES IN CANADA

            SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- The origins of one of the world’s largest and most valuable nickel and copper deposits have been uncovered by Slippery Rock University geology Professor Michael Zieg through his research at the 1.85-billion-year-old Sudbury impact crater in northern Canada.

Formed when a meteorite slammed into the earth, creating a 20-mile-deep crater, the discovery has attracted attention in geology circles. Science Magazine, the world’s largest outlet for scientific news, published an “Editor’s Choice” summary of Zieg’s work in December.  Editor’s Choice highlights newly published research of note.

After five years of study, Zieg realized the layering in the Sudbury complex,with its dramatic layering in which roughly one mile of granitic rocks overlie 3/4 mile of basaltic rock,was produced entirely in the liquid state immediately after the meteorite impact. His work adds new insight into the formation of rocks at the site that has captivated geologists for 100 years.

Like oil and vinegar, Zieg determined the nickel and copper settled independently to the bottom of the crater floor and thatthe melt sheet mechanically segregated into two distinct compositional layersbefore crystallizationbegan.

 “This process had not previously been recognized, or really even considered,” Zieg, assistant professor in the department of geography, geology and the environment since 2003. “These results not only allow us to better understand what happened at Sudbury, but also provide an impetus to look at other ‘normal’ rocks from a new perspective.” 

The 24-page paper first appeared in a recent edition of Geological Society of American Bulletin.

 “Recognition in Science means that this study is considered by researchers from across the scientific spectrum to be a significant contribution to our understanding of a fundamental geological process,” Zieg added.

           Zieg studied the Sudbury impact crater for his doctoral dissertation at Johns Hopkins University. His undergraduate degree is from Michigan State University.

           At SRU, Zieg teaches “Mineralogy,” “Petrology,” “Physical Geology,” “Physical Geology Lab” and “Quantitative Methods.”

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