Las Vegas — Highlands University geology professor Jennifer Lindline will lecture Sept. 19 on the evolution of Rio Grande rift volcanism in Northern New Mexico. Her research sheds new light on one of the world’s great continental rifts.
The Rio Grande Rift stretches from Leadville, Colo. south to the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. In 2010, Lindline began researching a previously unstudied area of the rift west of Santa Fe, N.M. in the Cerros del Rio Volcanic Field.
“The Rio Grande Rift is a fantastic manifestation of volcanoes, faults and basins that dates back 35 million years,” Lindline said. “A rift is where the crust of the earth stretches, bows and breaks. My research focused on the geochemical makeup of basalt rocks on the surface, which helps determine the rock’s origins in the mantle — earth’s largest layer.”
The 12 p.m. talk will be in the Margaret Kennedy Alumni Hall, 905 University Ave. The university’s chapter of Sigma Xi, a scientific research society, is sponsoring the talk. The lecture is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
“The geochemical data from my research found that the magma, or molten rock, came from deeper mantle reservoirs than is typical for continental rifts, distinguishing the Rio Grande Rift from others in the world. My students are involved in all aspects of this research, from the fieldwork to collecting and interpreting geochemical data,” Lindline said.
In 2011, Lindline and fellow geology professor Michael Petronis were awarded a National Geographic Society grant to further study ancient volcanoes in the Cerros del Rio volcanic field. They are co-principle investigators for the university’s study of the Cienega Cone southwest of Santa Fe.
Erosion and mining excavations gave the geology professors a rare opportunity to study the exposed plumbing of this dormant volcano, which is normally hidden from view in the Earth’s crust. This three-dimensional exposure made it possible for the team to study how magma flowed through the volcano when it was active
As part of the NGS grant, Lindline and Petronis became part of an international geology research team studying magma flow in ancient volcanoes. The other research partners are Blaise Pascal University in France and the Czech Geological Survey.
In April, as part of the National Geographic Society grant, Lindline, Petronis and a team of Highlands University geology students did additional volcanic fieldwork in the Auvergne region of France and the Bohemian Paradise region of the Czech Republic.
Geology graduate student Adam Brister was one of the students who did fieldwork. His graduate thesis is testing models for magma flow in Trosky Hill, a moderately eroded cinder cone in the Czech Republic.
During the European expedition, Lindline presented the same talk she will give Sept. 19 to the Czech Geological Survey and Blaise Pascal University.