Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


ROGERS, Robert M., Earth and Environmental Science, University of Texas at Arlington, Geoscience Building, 500 Yates Street, Arlington, TX 76019, HUNT, Andrew, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Univesity of Texas at Arlington, Geosciences Building, 500 Yates Street, Arlington, TX 76019 and OLDFIELD, Frank, Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZQ,

A preliminary investigation is underway to determine whether African dust is developed through Pedogenic or Aeolian processes. 85 dust samples were taken from the Sahel and Saharan region of Africa and analyzed using computer controlled scanning electron microscopy (CCSEM). Optimized secondary electron detectors (SED) and back-scattered electron detectors (BSED) with adjustable quadrants was used with a light element Peltier-cooled energy dispersive x-ray spectrometer. A variable pressure system was utilized for the analysis of insulating materials, which eliminated the need for special specimen coating to dissipate charge and remove artifacts. Data from these samples are being used to address two primary questions: (1) Can CCSEM technology accurately describe elemental compounds derived from dust samples and therefore derive mineral content and (2) Are African dusts created through Pedogenic or Aeolian processes. The creation of a 19-point elemental classification system was used to separate and analyze each of the 4000 data points that were taken from 85 samples. Initial findings show large amounts of Fe, Si, and Al-rich minerals. The Al-Si-rich minerals show a close correlation in relative elemental amounts. This is to be expected from clay minerals of the pyroxene group. The Fe, Si-rich minerals trend towards an inverse relationship, which is also consistent with iron oxides of the spinel group that generally consist of magnetite. Other elemental constituents within the samples include varying amounts of Ti, Ca, and K. An initial run of samples, 6 Burkina Soils and 6 Burkina Laterites, show a similarity in chemical composition, leading to the hypothesis that the Burkina Soils originated from the Burkina Laterites. As the experiment progresses we expect to see similar Aeolian processes contributing to the mineral content of other surface dusts. Further research on the effects of these wind driven dusts is needed to assess the potential health impacts and nutrient impact on the Americas as it is blown across the Atlantic Ocean and deposited in the ocean, Caribbean islands, Florida, and the Amazon.