Research

The Hadean Earth

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Southern Cross Domain, Australia

As we develop our understanding of the formation of the solar system, one question remains unknown: when did the Earth’s magnetic field originate? Looking at the oldest evidences from the Hadean Earth we might be able to answer this question.  Such evidences could be ingrained in zircons, minerals that formed sometime in the very early history of the Earth. In my work, we try to elucidate this exciting question by studying rocks from, for example, Western Australia, which contains the oldest zircons known to us. Understanding when the Earth’s magnetic field started can help us elucidate questions related to the beggining and evolutions of life,  how Earth’s dynamo is generated and maintained, and how and when plate tectonics started.

Pasteur Point and Evolution of Life

Studies have shown that approximately 2 billion years ago there was a considerable increase in oxygen concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere  (i.e. Great Oxidation Event, GOE). The cause for this increase is still debated, however it is plausible to assume that evolution and development of life might have played an important role during this event. Motivated by this question, I seek to elucidate the transition between fermentation and respiration (two fundamental metabolic processes for life) which occurs at low oxygen concentrations. This will help better understand the GOE and learn how different types of life thrive at such conditions. Furthermore, the 2 billion years old Earth could be considered an example to be extrapolated to exoplanets around our universe, potentially populated with life just like our young planet.

NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Understanding Mars is a fascinating topic. During the last 4 years, I have worked as a scientific collaborator of the MSL mission.  I have analyzed data from the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument on board of MSL. Projects included determination of thermal inertia and surface energy budget at Gale crater (Martínez et al., 2014), and detection of potential frost events at MSL’s traverse (Martínez et al., 2015). I have also modeled thermal and physical evolution of sedimentary rocks at Gale crater with implications correlating diagenetic findings by the NASA’s MSL mission to thermal, geological and geophysical characteristics of early Mars (Borlina et al., 2015; Borlina & Ehlmann, 2015).

 

 

Dust in Owens Lake, California

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Owens Lake, California: the largest source of dust in the US

Dust is one of the most common things on Earth. At Owens Lake, is no different and dust, an aerosol, is everywhere. Motivated by how aerosols interact with clouds (one of the largest sources of uncertainty in climate models) we have observed environmental data at Owens Lake since 2012. This gives an unique chance of not only better understanding how dust is generated and how it impacts the rest of the state, but also how the California drought has been impacting Owen Lake’s dust production. Additionally, aerosols can be a key role in climate change.