climate and Earth processes
BRIAN YANITES Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences | Geomorphology
In the spring semester, Brian teamed up with 6 graduate and 3 undergraduate students in his Advance
Geomorphology course to analyze river response to Typhoon Morakot in southern Taiwan using Google
Earth. The typhoon caused 22,000 landslides. The students quantified how this material has impacted riv-
er systems in these landscapes. The work has implications for understanding the cascade of hazards that
can exist for decades following such an event. The work is currently under review for publication.

In May, Brian and Ph.D. student Brigid Lynch traveled to southwestern Peru to measure rates of river ero-
sion and geomorphology. The goal of the collaborative project is to tease apart tectonic and climate drivers
of canyon incision along the western flank of the Andes. The IU team will combine estimates of basin-wide
erosion rates from cosmogenic nuclides with river morphology metrics to calibrate a model of river incision.

This model will be used to constrain the dynamics of canyon incision and ultimately help quantify when
these canyons began forming. While conducting field work, the research team observed the eruption of the Sabancaya.

In July, Ph.D. student Nate Mitchell attended the Tobacco Root Mountain Geologcial Society’s annual “Field Confer-
ence”. Following the meeting, Nate conducted field work throughout central Idaho, measuring river morphology and
rock strength in the Salmon and Clearwater watersheds. The goal of the project is to unravel how rock-type influences
the rate of landscape transience.

Brian’s research website:

16 | hgr
Chachani and El Misti volcanoes loom over
Arequipa, Peru’s second most populous city.

NSF grant to fund IU research on
how tectonic, climate processes
are reshaping landscape
Quoting the IU Newsroom:
Indiana University Bloomington geoscience researcher
Brian Yanites has been awarded a three-year, $317,663
grant from the National Science Foundation to study how
tectonic and climate processes interact to shape the land-
scape of southern Taiwan.

The research, which includes collaboration with Taiwanese
scientists, will expand scientists’ understanding of forces
involved in earthquakes, floods and landslides, potential-
ly improving the capacity for preventing or responding to
natural disasters.

Yanites said Taiwan is an ideal place to study the inter-
play of tectonic and climate forces and how they shape
the land. It experiences frequent earthquakes, some of
them devastating, and an average of four typhoons per
year. Its mountains and valleys are prone to erosion and
landslides. “Everything is sort of amped up in terms of
tectonics and climate,” Yanites said. “There is just so
much there, and everything happens so fast.”
The researchers will analyze how the landscape is
changing in response to earthquakes, tectonic uplift,
rainfall and floods. The work will include measuring
the size and shape of river channels, determining how
much sediment the rivers can carry and what will cause
them to flood. Researchers will also use a process called
cosmogenic nuclide analysis, which involves measuring
the buildup of rare isotopes in rocks to determine how
the landscape has changed in recent and geologic time.

CHEN ZHU Professor of Geological Sciences
Adjunct Professor, Environmental Sciences | Adjunct Professor, Environmental Health
Chen is pleased with the recent successes of his students
changes with time. That allowed
and the publications of their papers. In June, Guanru Zhang
one to calculate the quartz reac-
successfully defended his dissertation on modeling the CO 2
tion rates at equilibrium. These
plume development at Sleipner in Norway, the world’s first
results, published in the new
industrial scale carbon storage project to abate the global
journal Geochemical Perspec-
warming trend. His work was published in the International
tive Letters, have far reaching
Journal of Greenhouse Gas Technology, Energy & Fuels, and
significance because it tested
the International Journal of Energy Research.

the range of applicability of the
In July, Yilun Zhang successfully passed the qualifying exam.

principle of detailed balance,
After years of development, a new strain of research employing
something often assumed
the use of nonconventional isotopes to study reaction kinetics
but not verified in many models for society’s
has come to fruition. Chemists have known since 1884, via
mega-environmental projects. This innovative
J.H. van’t Hoff that, at equilibrium, reactions do not stop; the
experimental method shows great promises
rates of forward and backward reactions are equal. But how
to use a number of other isotopes of Ca, Mg,
can one measure rates at equilibrium when concentrations
Fe in kinetics studies of carbonates, sulfides,
are constant? Post-doc Zhaoyun Liu spiked a rare Si isotope
and oxides.

into solutions at equilibrium with quartz and observed isotope
Chen’s research website: Zhu named a
Fellow of AAAS
On November 20, 2017, Chen Zhu was named a Fellow of the AAAS (American Association for the
Advancement of Science) for distinguished research, teaching, and service contributions to the fields of
geochemistry and chemical hydrology, particularly linking theoretical concepts to field observations.

hgr | 17