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Economic geologist publishes hydrothermal rare earth elements paper

Bureau Economic Geologist and Assistant Professor in New Mexico Tech’s Earth and Environmental Science Department Dr. Alexander Gysi co-authored a paper on the partitioning of rare earth elements (REEs) into calcite veins in hydrothermal systems at elevated temperatures.

The paper “Hydrothermal calcite-fluid REE partitioning experiments at 200°C and saturated water vapor pressure” published in Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta was co-authored with Dr. Emily Perry of the Colorado School of Mines.

REEs are elements that are scarce within the earth’s crust, but can be concentrated in economic deposits by hydrothermal processes. They are often needed for components used in high-technology and green-technology industries.

This research used hydrothermal experiments to study how REEs are incorporated into the mineral calcite. Data gathered from the experiments was compared to thermodynamic models to investigate how REE composition in calcite varies as a function of temperature and fluid chemistry.

The end goal of Dr. Gysi’s work is to improve our understanding of REE compositional variation in natural calcite veins and quantify their mineralization conditions through a combination of research into natural deposits and thermodynamic modeling.

This research is part of a 5-year National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant awarded in 2019.

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