New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

www.nmt.edu
Socorro, NM, United States

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is a university located in Socorro, New Mexico. New Mexico Tech offers over 30 bachelor of science degrees in technology, the science, engineering , management, and technical communication, as well as graduate degrees at the masters and doctoral levels. In one 2010 Newsweek article, New Mexico Tech is considered one of the best small science and engineering schools in North America.A recent National Science Foundation study of Baccalaureate Origins of S&E Doctorate Recipients in the U.S. ranked New Mexico Tech as 15th in the nation, as well as the number one ranked public institution. Wikipedia.


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Patent
Los Alamos National Security LLC, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology | Date: 2016-04-15

Significant and aggregate user authentication activity may be analyzed across a population of users and computers in one or more networks to differentiate between authorized users and intruders in a network, and/or to detect inappropriate behavior by otherwise authorized users. Dynamic graphs and graph models over user and computer authentication activity, including time-constrained models, may be used for the purposes of profiling and analyzing user behavior in computer networks. More specifically, an edge-based breadth first search of graphs may be used that enforces time-constraints while maintaining traditional breadth first search computational complexity equivalence.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-STG | Phase: ERC-StG-2015 | Award Amount: 1.76M | Year: 2017

Topographically-driven meteoric (TDM) recharge is a key driver of offshore groundwater systems because sea level has been lower than at present for 80% of the last 2.6 million years. Groundwater has been implicated as an important agent in the geomorphic evolution of passive continental margins and the canyons that incise them. However, the geomorphic efficacy of groundwater remains dubious, and a diagnostic link between landscape form and groundwater processes remains poorly quantified, especially for bedrock and cohesive sediments. Obstacles that prevent going beyond the current state-of-knowledge include: (i) a focus on terrestrial contexts and a lack of mechanistic understanding of groundwater erosion/weathering; (ii) limited information on offshore groundwater architecture, history and dynamics. By addressing the role of TDM offshore groundwater in the geomorphic evolution of the most prevalent types of continental margins, MARCAN is expected to open new scientific horizons in continental margin research and bring about a step-change in our understanding of some of the most widespread and significant landforms on Earth. The projects methodology is rooted in an innovative, multi-scale and multidisciplinary approach that incorporates: (i) the most detailed 3D characterisation of TDM offshore groundwater systems and their evolution during an integral glacial cycle, based on state-of-the-art marine data and hydrogeologic models, and (ii) the development of a comprehensive continental margin geomorphic evolution model, based on realistic laboratory simulations, accurate field measurements and advanced numerical solutions. By placing better constraints on past fluid migration histories, MARCAN will also have strong applied relevance, primarily by improving assessment and exploitation of offshore freshwater as a source of drinking water.


Patent
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology | Date: 2016-05-06

An apparatus for reducing the total dissolved solids of a solution includes a unit having at least two chambers; a respective semi-permeable membrane arrangement disposed between each of the at least two chambers; a device for introducing respective solutions into, and withdrawing solutions from, the chambers; and at least one paddle disposed in each of said chambers. The paddles are configured to sweep opposite sides of each of the semi-permeable membrane arrangements. A device provides relative movement between the paddles and the semi-permeable arrangements.


Patent
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology | Date: 2016-06-03

A method of producing a multi-microchannel, flow-through element, including the steps of providing a body of material, and producing multiple microchannels within the body, wherein the microchannels extend through the body to produce a multi-microchannel, flow-through element. Such an element can be used as a micromixer, a sensor element, a filter, a fuel element or a chromatographic element.


Patent
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology | Date: 2016-04-20

The present disclosure describes a method to treat conditions, including bacterial infections and cancer, using a photosensitive compound that, upon exposure to white light, can be activated. The photosensitive compound can also interact synergistically with antibiotics used concomitantly to kill drug-resistant bacteria. The photosensitive compounds can also be used to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: INTEGRATED EARTH SYSTEMS | Award Amount: 886.41K | Year: 2015

The southern Great Basin is among the most arid regions in North America. It has almost no
perennial streams, but does have >1,000 springs. These springs are islands of aquatic habitat
in an ocean of desert. Remarkably, many of these isolated springs contain diverse aquatic
ecosystems and even endemic species of fish, spring snails, and other aquatic organisms. The
presence of many aquatic species that can only survive in water is evidence that the springs
are remnants of a perennial drainage system, and the presence of endemic species requiring
intervals in the million-year range for genetic divergence are evidence that at least some
of these springs have never desiccated over the geological time scale. Aquatic biogeographical
patterns thus inform the geological and hydrological history of the region.

This is a project to expand the already-large regional biogeographical database and to use the combined
new and preexisting data to test models of tectonic and paleohydrological evolution of the
southern Great Basin. The PIs will focus on two timescales: that of the extensional breakup of
the region from the late Miocene to the present and that of glacial/interglacial climate cycles.
Extensive work has been done to understand the extensional history of the region, which started
in the eastern portion of the study area at ~14 Ma and migrated westward to the Sierra Nevada
front, driven by plate-boundary dynamics. They will simulate this evolution using a regional
quasi-3D kinematic/tectonic-geomorphic-hydrologic coupled model that fully couples movement
along faults, mass distribution, magmatism, isostatic compensation and flexural deformation
with hydrology and surface geomorphic processes, including erosion and deposition. The extensional
fragmentation of the hydrological system will be studied and groundwater flow, necessary to
simulate the resulting development of springs, will be an integral part of the regional tectonic-geomorphic-hydrologic model.
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Modeled paleohydrologic histories will be tested against biotic data (aquatic biota inventories,
microbial and macrofaunal DNA, and genetic divergence times) with island biogeography theory.
The PIs will test for relations of hydrologic fragmentation chronology with endemic species and
for ecosystem diversity with spring resilience, as inferred from groundwater ages and climatically
driven modeling. They will use these results to assess and improve their tectonic/paleohydrologic models.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANTARCTIC GLACIOLOGY | Award Amount: 155.17K | Year: 2016

Dunbar/1543454

Antarctic ice cores offer unparalleled records of earth?s climate back to almost one million years and perhaps beyond. Layers of volcanic ash (tephra) embedded in glacial ice can be used to establish an accurate ice core chronology. In order to use a visible or ultrafine volcanic ash layer as a time-stratigraphic marker, a unique geochemical fingerprint must be established, and this forms the basis of our research. This award will investigate the volcanic record in the 1751 m ice core that was completed at the South Pole during the 2015/16 field season. The core is in an ideal location to link the existing, established, volcanic records in East and West Antarctica, and therefore to connect and integrate those records, allowing the climate records of ice cores to be directly compared, as well as to focus research on the most widespread and significant volcanic eruptions from West Antarctica. Tephra derived from well-dated, large, tropical volcanic eruptions that may have had an impact on climate will also be studied. Recent success in identifying and analyzing very fine ash particles from these types of eruptions makes it likely that we will be able to pinpoint some of these eruptions, which will allow the sulfate peaks associated with these layers to be positively identified and dated. Volcanic forcing time series developed from earlier South Pole ice cores based on preserved sulfate were crucial for testing climate models, but without tephra analysis, the origin of these layers remains uncertain.

Work on the tephra layers in the South Pole ice core has a number of significant specific objectives, some with practical applications to the basic science goals of Antarctic ice coring, and others that represent independent scientific contributions in their own right. These include: (1) providing independently dated time-intervals in the core, particularly for the deepest ice, (2) quantitatively linking tephra records across Antarctica with the goal of allowing direct and robust climate comparisons between these different parts of the continent, (3) providing information for large local eruptions, that will lead to direct estimates of eruption magnitude and dispersal patterns of Antarctic volcanoes, several of which will likely erupt again. The initial stages of the work will be carried out by identifying silicate-bearing horizons in the ice core, using several methods. Once found, silicate particles will be imaged so that morphological characteristics of the particles can be used to identify volcanic origin. Particles identified as tephra will then be chemically analyzed using electron microprobe and laser ablation ICP-MS. Samples that yield a robust chemical fingerprint will be statistically correlated to known eruptions, and this will be used to address the goals described above. Broader impacts of this project fall into the areas of education of future generation of researchers, outreach and international cooperation. These activities will continue to promote forward progress in integrating the Antarctic tephra record and more broadly tying it to the global volcanic record.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CLIMATE & LARGE-SCALE DYNAMICS | Award Amount: 521.73K | Year: 2016

This project studies the fundamental dynamics through which tropical convection, meaning the overturning motion found in tropical cumulus clouds and associated with intense precipitation, interacts with the larger-scale horizontal atmospheric circulation in which it is embedded. The work focuses on the evolution of convection within African easterly waves (AEWs), tropical waves disturbances with wavelengths of 2,000 to 2,500km which originate over West Africa and propagate westward over the northern tropical Atlantic. AEWs are of particular interest as they play a key role in the formation of tropical storms and hurricanes.

The work is based on preliminary findings suggesting a chain of meteorological relationships that can lead to the development of heavy rain. One is that cyclonic vorticity (a measure of the strength of cyclonic rotation or shear in the horizontal circulation) at a mid-tropospheric level (say 600mb) can produce warmer temperatures above and colder temperatures below that level, reducing moist convective instability around the level. This reduction in mid-tropospheric instability leads to a bottom-heavy mass flux profile in the cumulus clouds, in which most of the ascending motions within the clouds occur at low to middle levels of the troposphere. The bottom-heavy mass flux profile in turn leads to a reduction in the efficiency of convection for exporting static energy from the convecting region, which requires stronger convection to maintain the energy export. Meanwhile, lower instability leads to moistening of the convecting region through a process referred to as moisture quasi-equilibrium (a result derived in part from research under AGS-1148594), so that both enhanced moisture and more vigorous overturning motions contribute to intensification of rainfall. Preliminary work suggesting these relationships was performed using field campaign data from T-PARC/TCS-08 (Thorpex Pacific Asian Regional Campaign/Tropical Cyclone Motion experiment) and PREDICT (Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics). Work performed here further tests and explores the proposed chain of causality from mid-level vorticity to convective precipitation, and also considers mechanisms through which more vigorous convection in turn affects the mid-level vorticity and large-scale circulation. The work is conducted through both examination of observational data, including data from field campaigns, satellites, and reanalysis products, and the construction of simple models representing the hypothesized relationships.

As noted above, processes leading to the development of convective precipitation in AEWs are of practical as well as scientific interest given that they can lead to landfalling Atlantic hurricanes. More specifically, the work focuses on the early stages of tropical storm genesis, which is among the most difficult challenges in tropical cyclone forecasting. The project also fosters international scientific collaboration, as it involves work with a collaborators in Chile and Croatia, and the work is performed at a Hispanic-serving institution. In addition, the project provides support and training for a graduate student and an undergraduate summer intern, thereby providing for the future workforce in this research area.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: HYDROLOGIC SCIENCES | Award Amount: 141.43K | Year: 2016

Because faults can be barriers to underground fluid flow, they influence groundwater supply, contaminant transport, petroleum production, and underground waste storage. Natural cements commonly precipitate along fault zones; these cements can dramatically inhibit fluid flow across a fault. However, determining the distribution of fault zone cements is difficult. As a result, fault-zone cementation is typically not accounted for in estimates of the impact of faults on fluid flow. This study aims to take advantage of unique electrical properties of natural cements to characterize the three-dimensional spatial distribution of cement for an exceptionally well-exposed fault zone. Then, the hypothesis that the degree and continuity of fault-zone cementation is a key control on fluid flow will be tested by drawing water from wells adjacent to the fault. The results of this project can be applied to better understand contaminant transport in faulted aquifers, the characterization of hydrocarbon reservoirs, and induced seismicity associated with wastewater injection. Undergraduate and graduate students will be involved with all stages of the project, which will enhance education for underrepresented minorities at New Mexico Tech (NMT), a Hispanic-serving institution with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In addition, the geophysical equipment and groundwater wells used in this project will be long-lasting teaching resources both for NMT and for summer field courses sponsored by other universities.

The objectives of this project are to characterize field-scale permeability across a fault and link the hydrogeologic behavior of the fault to spatial variations in the degree of fault-zone cementation. The central hypotheses are: 1) there are more pronounced variations in the degree of cementation down-dip than along the strike of the fault because the up/down-section variations in grain size are larger than those along strike, and 2) extensive cementation does not reduce cross-fault permeability at the field-scale (i.e. the de facto hypothesis for hydrogeologic models that neglect the potential effects of fault-zone cementation). The proposed project comprises: 1) characterizing the degree and extent of cementation along the surface exposure of the fault; 2) collecting resistivity and chargeability data in transects across the fault, deriving empirical relationships between the degree of fault-zone cementation and normalized chargeability for shallow portions of the fault, and using those relationships to map the estimated degree of cementation for deeper portions of the fault; 3) coring the fault at depth to confirm the degree of cementation; and 4) conducting well tests to determine permeability across the fault in both strongly- and weakly-cemented sections. The study will generate geologically based geophysical observations, providing a unique 3D map of cementation patterns from the land surface to ~30 m depth, in transects covering >700 m along the strike of the Loma Blanca fault. Interpreting well tests across the fault in the context provided by the geologic and geophysical observations will allow for the development of a holistic view of fault-zone permeability, improving predictive models of the hydrogeologic impacts of faults.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MARINE GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS | Award Amount: 203.43K | Year: 2016

Subduction zones are where one of Earths tectonic plates moves under another resulting in many of the worlds largest earthquakes and damaging tsunamis. One example is the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan that killed more than 20,000 people and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. These earthquakes arise from friction on the subduction zone fault that separates the two tectonic plates. The temperature of the subduction fault zone affects this friction and can control the size and distribution of earthquakes. In addition, subduction zone temperatures affect a wide range of other physical and chemical processes, including the generation of magma that supplies nearby volcanoes. To understand these processes, it is important to accurately estimate subduction zone temperatures. Recent discoveries show that seawater circulating within the subducting tectonic plates is an important control on subduction zone temperatures. This project will examine how fractures that open in the upper part of a tectonic plate as it bends down into a subduction zone affect seawater circulation in the system and how that affects subduction zone temperatures. The project will develop numerical thermal models for seven subduction zones. Application of the results of this research has direct societal benefit, by informing earthquake hazard estimates. In addition, the project will enhance education at New Mexico Tech, a STEM-focused Hispanic-serving institution. A graduate student will be trained in geophysics and hydrogeology. Results of the project will be incorporated into using data in the classroom efforts, improving hands-on experience in undergraduate courses.

Accurate subduction zone thermal models are necessary to understand frictional behavior, metamorphic reaction progress, release of volatiles from the subducting slab, mantle wedge hydration, subduction dynamics, and melt generation. Fluid circulation in an oceanic crustal aquifer is an important control on subduction zone temperatures. However, there are contrasting hypotheses for how much of the oceanic crust can host vigorous hydrothermal circulation. Both thickening of the oceanic crustal aquifer via plate bending normal faults and fluid circulation between subducted crust and the crust seaward of the trench may contribute to the advective redistribution of heat that affects subduction zone temperatures. This project will test the hypothesis that the thermal effects of aquifer thickening prior to subduction are greater for slabs with a greater degree of curvature. This project will exploit the fact that aquifer thickening from the outer rise to the trench and continued fluid circulation in subducting crust are expected to produce distinct surface heat flux anomalies (a broad low amplitude anomaly for aquifer thickening; a narrow high amplitude anomaly for fluid circulation in subducting crust) in order to constrain the thermal effects of each process. This will advance our understanding of the fluid circulation process that is an important control on subduction zone temperatures, improving subduction zone thermal models for the seven margins examined in this project and others.

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