Frank M. Richter

The University of Chicago


Election Year: 2001
Primary Section: 15, Geology
Secondary Section: 16, Geophysics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

A common feature of my research has been the effort to combine theory and experiments to develop quantitative geophysical and geochemical models rich enough to shed some light on actual geological phenomena yet simple enough that causal relationships can be understood in generalizable terms. Geophysical topics that I have worked on include mantle convection, the driving mechanism of plate tectonics, and the thermal evolution of Earth. Those with a more geochemical flavor include melt segregation, sedimentary pore-water chemistry, 40Ar/39Ar thermochronometry, and chemical diffusion in molten silicates systems. My most recent research focuses on kinetic stable isotope fractionations as "fingerprints" of mass transport process. Laboratory experiments are used to demonstrate isotope fractionations during chemical diffusion between natural melts. I am also using high-temperature vacuum experiments in which silicon and magnesium are evaporated from molten silicates to calibrate the relationship between mass loss and the resulting isotopic fractionation of the residue. The rates and isotopic fingerprint of evaporation are then used to determine the thermal history of particular types of isotopically fractionated meteorite inclusions that were processed during the earliest stages of solar system evolution.

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