Elizabeth H. Mitnick 

PhD Candidate, University of California Berkeley Department of Earth & Planetary Science 
Advisor: Don DePaolo

I am a PhD candidate in Geochemistry and I've been working with Don DePaolo since 2013, and with Laura Lammers (ESPM Dept., UC Berkeley) since 2015. 

I use a combination of lab experiments, geochemical modeling, and natural sample characterization to understand the formation of abiogenic carbonates in natural environments, with a current focus on marine sediments. I am interested in very small-scale, fundamental growth processes, as well as major elemental cycles (C, Ca, Mg) over Earth history that influence and are influenced by the formation of carbonates. 

In my experimental work, I investigate how carbonate minerals nucleate and grow from solutions of varying composition (e.g., different Mg:Ca ratios that we see in marine sediment pore waters) by running controlled growth experiments and measuring isotopes of Ca and Mg, which are useful indicators of rate-dependent processes. I use geochemical modeling of pore fluid Ca and Mg concentrations in marine sediments to estimate rates of in situ abiogenic (authigenic) carbonate formation using a reactive-transport framework. I am excited to be beginning work using nanoSIMS to characterize the spatial distribution and trace element content of authigenic carbonate in marine sediments.