EDUCATION


2014        PhD, Rice University, USA

2008        Master of Science, Jadavpur University, India

2006        Bachelor of Science, Jadavpur University, India



RESEARCH SUMMARY


My research is aimed at studying the interactions between the surficial (atmosphere-ocean-crust) and deep reservoirs (mainly the mantle) of the Earth and planetary bodies, and how such interactions shape the chemistry and dynamics of these reservoirs with time. The communication between the surface and the interior may take place by mass (silicate matter) and volatile exchange, and my research broadly investigates the details of these interaction processes and how they affect the chemical differentiation of the Earth and planetary bodies.


Mass exchange in the Earth’s mantle between the surficial and deeper reservoirs mainly takes place by introduction of chemical heterogeneities (rock-types distinct in composition from the bulk mantle) via subduction (in the form of oceanic crust, continental crust and their associated sediments). Such heterogeneities are also created within the mantle by differentiation processes (as residues of melting or melt-rock reaction). Subduction and density-triggered mantle overturn are two principal mechanisms of introducing such heterogeneities in the mantles of the Earth and the Moon respectively, along with other planetary bodies. Such distinct rock-types chemically interact with the surrounding rock either by solid-state diffusion processes or via melting/releasing fluids. Therefore, chemical processes within the mantle of the Earth and other planetary bodies must be affected by their presence. As evidence: a) several primary (mantle-derived) lava compositions across tectonic settings on the Earth contain signatures of the presence of some form of chemical heterogeneity (subducted and recycled marine sediments, continental sediments or oceanic crust) in their source, and b) highly titanium-enriched magnesian basalt is found on the Moon, which is distinct in composition to that expected from melting of the bulk lunar mantle.


Other than mass exchange, volatile species such as hydrogen (H), carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) constitute another important set of parameters to constrain interactions between the surficial and deeper reservoirs. Volatile elements such as H and C are known to affect physical properties of the Earth’s mantle, such as rheology and electrical conductivity. These volatiles also affect the melting behavior of the mantle, such as the depth of the onset of melting, melt productivity, and chemistry of melt generated, thereby influencing chemical differentiation of the planet. Deep cycling of H, C and N from the atmosphere to the interior of the Earth and vice versa also regulate atmospheric composition and long-term climate. Owing to their reactivity in silicate systems, volatiles such as H, C and N interfere with mantle chemical processes, adding further complexity to the interaction between the heterogeneities and the ambient mantle.


As an experimental petrologist, I investigate the effect of chemical heterogeneities and volatiles on the process of differentiation, at pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions applicable to the Earth’s mantle and the mantles of planetary bodies such as the Moon, using high P-T devices such as piston-cylinder and multi-anvil presses.  The ultimate goal of my research is to determine the relationship between the process of chemical differentiation and deep volatile cycling.



HONORS, AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS


    2015        Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship

    2015        Leroy Caleb Gibbon Award, Earth Science, Rice University

    2013        Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Earth Science, Rice University

    2012        Torkild Rieber Award, Department of Earth Science, Rice University

    2010        Outstanding Student Award, Houston Geological Society

    2009        Watt Fellowship, Department of Earth Science, Rice University

    2009        President’s Fellowship, Rice University

    2008        SPM Fellowship, Council of Industrial and Scientific Research, India

    2008        University Gold Medal, Jadavpur University

    2008        Junior Research Fellowship, Council of Industrial and Scientific Research, India

    2007        Ranked 8th in Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineering (Geology & Geophysics)

    2006        Summer Research Fellowship, Indian Academy of Sciences, India


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