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New economic geologist joins Bureau/NMT

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Dr. Alexander Gysi conducting field sampling of carbonate hot springs and alteration zones in the caldera of the Torfajökull rhyolitic volcano, Iceland.
Courtesy of Alexander Gysi

Socorro, NM
— June 19, 2020

Dr. Alexander Gysi joins both the New Mexico Bureau of Geology (NMBG) and New Mexico Tech’s (NMT) Earth and Environmental Science Department (E&ES) as an Economic Geologist and Assistant Professor. Dr. Gysi has an extensive academic background focused on fluid-rock interactions and the formation of deposits of rare earth elements (REEs) and critical minerals.

“I am excited about the opportunity to build a significant research laboratory for studying critical minerals, and New Mexico is a fantastic natural laboratory to study mineral deposits,” says Dr. Gysi. “The Bureau of Geology gives me the opportunity to focus on research, and my dual affiliation with the E&ES department enables me to strike the perfect balance between teaching and student education.”

Dr. Gysi completed a Master of Science degree in Mineralogy and Petrology at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and a Ph.D. in Geochemistry at the University of Iceland. For his doctoral research, Dr. Gysi used aqueous geochemistry, thermodynamics, numerical modeling, and lab experiments to study fluid-rock interactions resulting from the injection of CO2 produced by a geothermal power plant into a basaltic rock formation.

Following a postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University, Dr. Gysi became an Assistant Professor in Lithogeochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines. There, his lab group focused on hydrothermal-magmatic fluids and how they evolve during the formation of mineral deposits.

“I am particularly interested in discovering geochemical signatures in minerals and how they can tell us a tale about the processes occurring at depth in the Earth’s crust,” says Dr. Gysi. “Combining field, laboratory, and numerical modeling studies gives us a holistic overview of how these processes happen and how to read the rock record in the field.”

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

A better understanding of the origin of mineral deposits supports exploration, responsible resource extraction, regulation and permitting, and mine remediation strategies.

At the Bureau, Dr. Gysi will collaborate with Principal Senior Economic Geologist Dr. Virginia McLemore on research in the Cornudas Mountains in southeastern New Mexico. The project will use mapping and sampling to investigate the igneous and hydrothermal processes that led to the deposition of REEs and critical minerals.

Dr. Gysi’s joint appointment with the Bureau and E&ES gives him a unique opportunity to pursue research, advise students, teach courses, and interact with the public.

“I am excited to organize events and interact with the New Mexico community to promote science and education in mineralogy in the state,” says Dr. Gysi.

“Alex comes to us with a strong research background, and great experience in academia. I'm excited to welcome him to the Bureau, and to see how he turns his intellectual skills towards geochemistry problems that will help us understand mineral resources in New Mexico,” says Bureau Director and State Geologist Dr. Nelia Dunbar. “His joint appointment, between the Bureau of Geology and the Earth and Environmental Science Department at NMT will serve to strengthen an already-healthy relationship between our two geoscience teams.”