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KU Sophomore Awarded a Carole and Ray Neag Undergraduate Research Grant

April 4, 2014

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Fleetwood-native Margariete Malenda, a sophomore geology major at Kutztown University, was awarded a $1500 Carole and Ray Neag Undergraduate Research Grant to travel to the Dàbăoshān mine in China and study how minerals are layered throughout the rock.

The Dàbăoshān mine is one of several sites in the southeastern region of China with massive sulfide deposits. Researchers hypothesize that the minerals were deposited 400 million years ago, when hot springs spewed metal-rich sediments on the sea floor. However, the Dàbăoshān mine also contains molybdenum deposits, which would have originated from a magmatic intrusion that occurred 200 million years after the original minerals were believed to have been deposited.

Malenda and her advisor, Dr. Kurt Friehauf, professor of geology at KU, have hypothesized that the deposits at the Dàbăoshān mine occurred by either a two-stage process or one-stage process. The two-stage process entails sedimentary exhalative deposits, followed by a magmatic intrusion, or porphyry stage. The one-stage process consists of only the magmatic intrusion.

They plan to research how such unlikely minerals exist adjacent to each other by conducting field analysis in China with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. Malenda and Friehauf will study the relationship between minerals in China, and conduct lab analyses in the U.S. to study mineralogical and chemical evidence, in support of either hypothesis. Their project could mean uncovering one of the largest molybdenum belts in the world

"Geoscience research has become one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my education," Malenda said. "Taking knowledge from the classroom and applying it to real world problems and questions firsthand is exhilarating and furthers my love and knowledge of the field. I'm fortunate to work with Dr. Friehauf. He's very supportive." 

Malenda, who is enrolled in KU's Honors program, is also a member of the Geology Club, a student employee at Rohrbach Library and a student instructor for Geology 100. In addition to her research on the Dàbăoshān mine porphyry body, she is currently conducting Re-Os isotope studies to examine the geothermal gradient of core samples brought back from Haib, Namibia, by Dr. Friehauf.