The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences (CAGS) have signed a research agreement that will involve collaboration on a number of research thrusts, travel between the two institutions and eventually student exchanges that could lead to Chinese students attaining doctorates from Washington University.
The agreement was signed Sept. 18 at a ceremony and reception at the Earth and Planetary Sciences Building.
“This is an exciting time for our two institutions as we collaborate on some key research areas,” said Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences. “We’re ready to get started and eagerly anticipate student exchanges in the future, in addition to the research projects.”
“This agreement is symbolic of a new friendship and new discoveries that we will find with each other’s help,” said Dong Shuwen, Ph.D., vice president of CAGS, who signed the agreement with Arvidson.
One of the key thrusts of the agreement is the dating of lunar samples from the Apollo missions that are stored at the University. They will be analyzed with a rare (one of six in the world), powerful instrument called the Sensitive High Resolution Ion Micro Probe (SHRIMP) II that is hosted by CAGS. SHRIMP II is a high-precision Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (SIMS). Ion microprobes make in situ isotopic and chemical “surface” analysis of solid targets by bombarding the sample with an ion beam with a diameter of several micrometers.
Collaborations between WUSTL and CAGS will involve using SHRIMP II to analyze lunar samples to get a better understanding of the rocks’ history and how they might have formed.
Bradley Jolliff, Ph.D., research associate professor of earth and planetary sciences, will be working with Liu Dunyi, Ph.D., and others at CAGS on the Apollo samples. They also will use SHRIMP II on lunar meteorites stored here. Randy Korotev, Ph.D., research associate professor in earth and planetary sciences, and Ryan Zeigler, Ph.D., research scientist also in earth and planetary sciences, will work with Jolliff and the new Chinese collaborators on the lunar sample studies.
WUSTL planetary scientists, led by Arvidson, will assist CAGS researchers in remote sensing data analysis from the Chinese lunar probe project, Chang’e-1, set to launch next month.
Collaborators also will study the evaporative deposits from high-altitude saline lakes and from the weathering belts of sulfide zones of the Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau, a cold, dry geological setting similar to Mars. Alian Wang, Ph.D., senior research scientist in earth and planetary sciences, will work on that project, in collaboration with Zheng Mianping, Ph.D., at CAGS. David Fike, Ph.D., will join the collaboration after his WUSTL appointment as an assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences begins in January 2009.
An Meijian, Ph.D., a geologist with CAGS, will collaborate with Douglas A. Wiens, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences, on seismology in Antarctica.
In late November, Wiens and a team will go to remote regions of Antarctica to place seismographs in both east and west Antarctica, hoping to learn about the Earth’s mantle there and whether the continent is thawing. That study also hopes to glean information about glaciers, mountains and ice streams.
A fifth area of collaboration is the isotopic analysis of meteorites. WUSTL participants are Frank Podosek, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences, and Frederic Moynier, Ph.D., who will start as an assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences in January 2008. The CAGS participant will be Zhu Xiangkun, Ph.D.