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Release: April 22, 1999

UI geology researchers receive federal grants

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two University of Iowa researchers in the College of Liberal Arts' department of geology recently received grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their research.

Mark Reagan, associate professor of geology, and colleagues at the University of Minnesota were awarded collaborative grants totaling $190,500 for a project called, "Collaborative Research: Melting and Mass Transfer in the Central American Arc From Pa-231, Th-230, and Ra-226 Systematics." The project is an investigation of the lavas from Central American volcanoes. By examining the relative abundance of radioactive daughter products of uranium found in magma -- protactinium 231, thorium 230 and radium 226 -- Reagan and his Minnesota associates will be able to place restraints on the timescale and processes under which magma is produced.

Professor Nancy Budd, chair of the department of geology, was awarded a three-year, $170,000 grant for a project called, "Evolution of a Species Complex During Faunal Turnover: Morphometric Analyses of the Montastraea Annularis Reef Coral Complex." The project involves studying the skeletons of fossil and living corals in order to reconstruct the evolutionary tree of a common species complex over the past 20 million years. With this information, geologists can compare extinct species of coral with current varieties and figure out which characteristics can best be used to distinguish species of coral throughout geologic time.

Budd, who is in the second year of the project, is working with two collaborators, one from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California and the other from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.