Professor John Luczaj Receives Three-Year NSF Grant to Study Dolomite in China

UW-Green Bay Professor John Luczaj (Water Science) and colleague Dan Lehrman (Trinity University) received parallel three-year grants from the National Science Foundation to study the carbonate rocks of southern China. The NSF Grants will involve taking students to China for one month each year, followed by laboratory work at UW-Green Bay. The UW-Green Bay portion part of the award is $163,905.

The study aims to investigate the origin of dolomite, an enigmatic, but very common mineral that is found replacing many limestones worldwide. About half of the worlds carbonate rocks are limestone, and the other half are dolomite, but scientists’ understanding of precisely how these rocks are chemically changed remains a geochemical mystery because they are not common in modern limestone environments.

Dolomite is important because it not only hosts economically important base metal and petroleum deposits, but it also hosts important aquifers, such as those in parts of Wisconsin. For example, northeastern Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula is made entirely of dolomite and does not actually contain any limestone – those rocks were replaced long ago by a new magnesium-rich mineral known as dolomite.

The rocks in south China are particularly special because they preserve an uplifted profile of a partially dolomitized carbonate platform, known as the Great Bank of Guizhou, that will help researchers better understand the process by which groundwater makes this important mineral. Undergraduate students will work with Professor Luczaj each year, including international travel.

While it’s unfortunate that Covid-19 restrictions prevented travel to China this summer, the researchers anticipate being able to travel each summer beginning in 2022. This year, Neda Mobasher, a Geoscience/Environmental Science double major, will conduct independent research on samples that have been collected during the previous decade in an attempt to understand the temperature, salinity, and chemistry of the fluids responsible for forming dolomite in the Great Bank of Guizhou.

Faculty researchers and students presented at American Water Resources Association Conference (Wisconsin Section)

UW-Green Bay faculty, staff, and current and former students gave five presentations at the March 3-4, 2021 virtual conference for the Wisconsin Section of the American Water Resources Association.

Prof. John Luczaj also participated in organizing the virtual conference as the technical co-chair, which was a new format this year due to COVID-19. The conference was a success with 215 attendees, a number that exceeded recent registrations. Professor Luczaj’s research projects involved two current undergraduate students (Water Science/Environmental Science) and four former graduate student coauthors (ES&P graduate program). Two other UW-Green Bay members presented talks at the conference: Kevin Fermanich (Professor, Geoscience) and Paul Baumgart (NAS; Watershed Scientist), along with coauthors that include a former graduate student, as well as a colleague from the US Geological Survey.

These research projects provide a deeper understanding of the chemical and physical processes that affect important surface water and groundwater resources across northeastern Wisconsin. Students participated in collecting water samples, working with well construction reports, developing monitoring sensors, and interpreting data, all of which allowed them to gain valuable experience in research related to water science, soils, and geoscience.

UW-Green Bay presentations and authors:

1. Tracking Recharge and Sources of Sulfate Using δ34S (Sulfate) and 14C age dating in the Confined Sandstone Aquifer of Northeastern Wisconsin Authors: John Luczaj (Dept. of Natural and Applied Sciences); Olukayode Akinkuehinmi (ES&P); Amanda (Amy) Hamby (ES&P); Alex Hein (Geoscience; ES&P); Abby Shea (ES&P)

2. A Regional Groundwater Isoscape for δ2H and δ18O in the Silurian Aquifer of Northeastern Wisconsin Authors: Tyler Kunze (Water Science; Environmental Science majors); John Luczaj (Dept. of Natural & Applied Sciences)

3. An Updated Potentiometric Surface for the Confined Sandstone Aquifer in the Northeast Groundwater Management Area of Wisconsin (2019-2020) Authors: Ross Koester (Water Science major); John Luczaj (Dept. of Natural & Applied Sciences)

4. Big Acute P Losses Test an Ag Runoff Treatment System in 2019 Authors: Kevin Fermanich (UW-Green Bay & Wisconsin Extension); Paul Reneau (USGS-Middleton); Paul Baumgart (UW-Green Bay)

5. Low-cost Turbidity Sensors for Field and Watershed Monitoring Authors: Paul Baumgart (UW-Green Bay: Dept. of Natural and Applied Sciences); Andrew Schmitz (ES&P); Kevin Fermanich (UW-Green Bay).


Great Decisions Lecture Series: Struggles Over the Melting Arctic this Wednesday

U.S. President Donald Trump left many scratching their heads when it was rumored that he was looking to purchase the large island nation of Greenland from Denmark. While any potential deal seems highly unlikely, the event shows the changing opinion within the U.S. government toward engagement with the Arctic region. Because of climate change, large sheets of arctic ice are melting, exposing vast stores of natural gas and oil. With Russia and China already miles ahead with their Arctic strategies, can the U.S. catch up? Join Associate Professor Rebecca McKean (Geology) of St. Norbert on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Register at CAHSS & Effect.


Prof. Luczaj talks with Wisconsin Public Radio about the new Water Science program

“As the world continues to deal with an increasing amount of water quality and quantity issues, there’s a growing demand for workers with a water science background. We hear about one Wisconsin university’s new effort to try and meet that demand.” Listen to host Kate Archer Kent and guest UW-Green Bay Prof. John Luczaj, as they discuss UW-Green Bay’s news Water Science degree.

Visiting astronomy professor to give three talks this week

Albion College’s Prof. Nicolle Zellner, one of the American Astronomical Society’s Shapley Lecturers, will give three astronomy and geology talks in Green Bay next week:

  • “50 Years Since Apollo: What We Learned About the Moon and Why We Should Go Back,” Neville Public Museum Astronomical Society meeting, Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 122/123. Free and open to the public.
  • “Space Rocks: To the Moon – and Beyond!”, UW-Green Bay Geology Club Meeting, Thursday, Mar. 7, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in UW-Green Bay’s Mary Ann Cofrin (MAC) Hall, Room 208. Free and open to the public.
  • Natural & Applied Sciences Seminar, “Impacts in the Earth-Moon System: What, When and Why Should We Care?”, Friday, Mar. 8, 2019 at 3:10 p.m. in UW-Green Bay’s Environmental Sciences (ES) building, Room 30. Free and open to the public.

Faculty note: Luczaj, Houghton and Shea receive grant for bedrock mapping

Professor John Luczaj (Geoscience), research scientist Chris Houghton, and graduate student Abby Shea will be working on constructing a depth to bedrock map for the county, along with an analysis of the groundwater chemistry in a deeper sandstone aquifer accessible in the northwestern portion of the county. The researchers received a grant for $34,580 from the Wisconsin DNR for the project entitled A Depth-to-Bedrock Map and Deep Aquifer Characterization for Kewaunee County, WI.

Geology Club President leads Baird Creek walk, Saturday, Nov. 18

On Saturday, Nov. 18 at 1 p.m., join UW-Green Bay graduate student and Geology Club President, Zachary Ashauer, at Christa McAuliffe Park (3100 Sitka St.) to learn about glacial formations and the landscape of the past on the Geology Hike through the Baird Creek Greenway. Remember to dress for the weather, and be prepared to encounter a few hills and unpaved trails. For parties of six or more, please call Holly at 920.328.3505.