Research — Geochronology
NMGRL is involved with a variety of research projects addressing volcanic hazards, climate change, plutonism, and uplift and tectonism (among many others). We are also deeply involved with development of technology for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology and noble gas mass spectrometers.
Geochronologist studies missing rocks
Dr. Matthew Heizler (geochronologist) has just been awarded a three year grant from the NSF tectonics division to study the "Great Unconformity" exposed in western North America. An unconformity is a span of time for which no rock record is represented because it has been eroded away or because sediment was never deposited. The Great Unconformity was coined by John Wesley Powell during his epic run of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, AZ in 1876. Here he noticed that deformed ancient metamorphic rocks were covered by much younger undeformed sedimentary rocks. New Mexico has some of the best exposures of the contact between these very old Precambrian rocks (1.7 billion years) and younger sediments (300 million years) of anywhere in North America.