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Research Update 06/23/21

Hello Planetary Pals,

I have spent the last four weeks back in the United States after not visiting for a year due to the pandemic, however I am now back in Canada. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to get fully vaccinated, however while I feel protected, Ontario has yet to make any exemptions for fully vaccinated people so business remains as usual for me unfortunately. I am currently midway through my 14-day quarantine period and am trying to not go too crazy being stuck in my room.

As for my research, I have already talked with some of you in the Neish group about this, but this may come as news to others of you. I am unfortunately taking a break from my Holuhraun project for the time being. This was something that I had thought on for some time. A quick look through my previous research updates going back to November shows the problem. I had been trying to figure out the georeferencing problems in Arc and SNAP for seven months with almost nothing to show for it. I was stuck, going in circles, with no tangible progress. I was no closer on day one than I am now at getting it to work. I felt embarrassed, unfulfilled, and discouraged. I am not really sure how to feel; I know I’m not the first graduate student to change projects, but I still feel like a failure. However, I know that I am a competent geologist, and thought that perhaps changing projects could affect how I felt about research and academia, that it might turn things around.

On the 11th, I had a meeting with Dr. Neish and Dr. Tornabene to discuss a new project. In the Coprates Quadrangle on Mars, southwest of Valles Marineris are two U-shaped valleys named Her Desher Vallis and Nirgal Vallis. These valleys are thought to be carved not by surface rivers but by subsurface groundwater seeping from an ancient aquifer. The morphology of these valleys allow some stratigraphy to be observed. Of interest in this area is a layer of Mg/Fe phyllosilicates, which are exposed in these valleys. Similar deposits of Mg/Fe clays are thought to be seen in excavated impact craters nearby. My job will be to determine how extensive this clay unit is and to reconstruct the geological and hydrological history that formed these formations. We will also hope to see if there is a genetic relationship between the Her Desher and Nirgal Valles. I will attempt to accomplish this using a broad suite of instruments, mainly CaSSIS, but also HiRISE, CTX, THEMIS, and CRISM. This was 7 work days ago, and progress is still in its initial phase. This project is, in my opinion, more scientifically intriguing than my other project and I am finally excited again about my work.

Her Desher Vallis, CTX
Nirgal Vallis, CTX
Her Desher, HiRISE
Nirgal Vallis, HiRISE
Nirgal Vallis, THEMIS


Published by Anthony Dicecca

Hello and welcome to my blog. I am Anthony Dicecca, and I am currently pursuing a thesis-based Masters degree in Geology with a Specialization in Planetary Science and Exploration. I am a native of Rochester, New York but moved to London, Ontario to attend the University of Western Ontario. From 2016 to 2020 I worked to complete my undergraduate degree, finishing with a BSc in Physics and a BSc in Geology. During this time I developed a passion for geology, and in particular, planetary science. I've had the pleasure of working with Dr. Gordon Osinski and his team during this time aiding in research ranging from Arctic peri-glaciology to global impact cratering, and from Lunar spectroscopy to Martian mapping. In Autumn 2020 I continued my education at the U.W.O., working towards a MSc in Geology with a Specialization in Planetary Science and Exploration. My research will likely involve insights obtained from the Holuhraun Lava Field in Iceland and their applications to other bodies in the Solar System. This blog serves as an archive of my progression over the next few semesters.

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