Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Natural and Applied Science in Geography, Geology, and Planning


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Gary Michelfelder


One of NASAs key strategies is to learn more about the early solar system and its formation. Chondrites were formed from the most primitive materials at the collapse of the solar system and over time have been classified into different categories based on their elemental abundance. These chondrites have fallen to Earth and have even formed entities such as asteroids and planetary bodies. It has been found through studies that one of these chondrites is close to the elemental abundance of the Sun. The other types of chondrites were up to two orders of magnitude less in concentration compared to the Suns photosphere. The question arises to why these chondrites are less in concentration. Our hypothesis is that diffusion may play a role in this difference. In order to check this hypothesis, an experiment was created using a Knudsen Effusion Cell chamber in which the atmosphere would be lowered to close to 1 x 10-8 torr which would keep the oxygen fugacity lower than that level. The temperatures for this study would be between 1300 and 1800 degrees Celsius. The material used for these experiments would be the standards of BHVO-2, a Hawaiian basalt, and a San Carlos olivine. The purpose is to show that at these temperatures the elements being analyzed, Zinc, Potassium, and Rubidium, will diffuse from the basalt into the crystal. After the experiment, it was found that the elements didnt diffuse, but volatilized and left the system. Each of the elements lost up to ninety percent of their concentration even from the olivine crystal.


olivine, Rubidium, Potassium, Zinc, diffusion, basalt, experimental, petrology, chondrites

Subject Categories



© Christopher J. Willingham

Open Access