Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Colin Robins

Reader 2

Marion Preest

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Rights Information

© 2012 Mehar Kaur


Barium is a relatively abundant element in the crustal environments, Ba quantities can range from anywhere between 200ppm to 900ppm. Most common forms of Ba-minerals found in the environment are barite (BaSO4), witherite (BaCO3) and hollandite (Ba2Mn8O16). Ba is a useful element; it is used in various industries as a component in drilling fluids, in medical research and in manufacturing of various substances such as glass, ceramics, printing paper etc. However high quantity of Ba can be potentially toxic for the human body and can impair plant growth. It is therefore, important to review the terrestrial biogeochemical cycle of Ba, which is less studied and less understood than the oceanic biogeochemical cycle of Ba. Additionally, terrestrial systems face a diverse climate and are not as stable as the oceanic systems. Due to this the terrestrial biogeochemical cycle of barium is continuously changing and is more dynamic than the oceanic cycle. By studying one part of the cycle, i.e. the interaction of Ba in the atmosphere with the geosphere in the Mojave desert, NV, I propose a study to test the hypothesis that occurrence of, Ba-mineral, barite, in desert soils is mainly driven by dust flux. The proposal includes methodology for dust collection, sample analysis using XRF, XRD and SEM.EDS techniques and potential budget and timeline. Evidence supporting this claim would suggest that dust transports such minerals, affects the soil chemistry of desert soils and the interaction of various terrestrial systems.