Parai wins CAREER grant to study geochemistry of the deep Earth

Rita Parai
Rita Parai, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, explains how her lab's gas extraction line functions. (Photo: Sean Garcia)

Rita Parai, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, won a $720,899 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her project, “Heavy Noble Gases in the Azores Archipelago.”

Parai’s research focuses on heavy noble gases — neon, argon, krypton and xenon  — as unique and powerful tracers for the origins and movement of volatile elements and compounds among planetary reservoirs over time. These volatiles include essential ingredients for life on Earth —  such as carbon, nitrogen and water — and their changing distributions between the deep Earth and the surface of the planet have implications for Earth’s past and future habitability.

Parai’s NSF-funded project will leverage new techniques to measure heavy noble gases in ocean island basalts from the Azores archipelago, which will shed light on how the mantle plume sampled at the Azores acquired and lost volatiles over Earth’s history and advance scientists’ understanding of mantle plume volatile signatures.

Read more on the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences website.

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