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Published June 01, 2020
Geology master’s student Garrett Gay is developing a methodology for separating, dissolving, and analyzing mineral grains to access potential Rare Earth Element (REE) resources in Wyoming. The Center for Economic Research Geology (CEGR) at the School of Energy Resources (SER) and the UW Department of Geology & Geophysics have collaborated to support Garrett’s research. Garrett studies under Dr. John Kaszuba and Dr. Susan Swapp in the master’s program in Geology at UW and works with CEGR to develop analytical methods to measure Rare Earth Elements in various rock types.
Working closely with a Wyoming uranium company, Mr. Gay seeks to identify REE bearing minerals in uranium roll-front deposits in the Powder River Basin. REEs occur across the deposit, and he hopes to understand the processes for placement, timing, and distribution. He has focused the analytical development on the Red Mountain Pluton of the Northern Laramie Range. He is developing techniques that allow for processing, separation, and analysis to be completed entirely on campus; previously, samples had to be sent to external laboratories. He is now expanding methodologies to include other promising rock and mineral types (e.g. fluorites and carbonatites).
“These methodologies will be used to assess potential REE resources of the field areas in Wyoming,” says Scott Quillinan, Director of CEGR. “We greatly appreciate the donors for the opportunities this fund has created for UW students and researchers.” The funding for this project came from the Marathon Interdisciplinary Fossil Fuel Research Laboratory Support award.
CEGR conducts studies to evaluate the distribution and occurrence of critical materials (including REEs) in Wyoming and the mountain west. Critical materials are those considered crucial to the economic and national security of the United States or for which supply may be susceptible to disruption.
Garrett grew up in Rochester, NY and received his BA in History and his BS in Geology from the University of Rochester. He studied history abroad in Poland and took his field course in Scotland. Separately from his project with SER, he is planning to defend his master’s thesis in August. Garrett will be entering the job market this fall after a summer internship with the Wyoming Geological Survey.