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Ellen  Was

Ellen Was

Masters Student Earth Sciences

104 Heroy GL

Research and Teaching Interests

I am currently investigating the use of a new trace element thermobarometer for aluminum concentrations in quartz to constrain the temperature and pressure of mineral crystallization. The success of an Al-in-quartz thermobarometer relies on determining both the variations in Al solubility across P-T space as well as the solubility mechanism for Al substitution into the quartz structure. I expect that Al in quartz replaces Si in the tetrahedron. I synthesized Al-bearing quartz for this study at high T and P in a hydraulic press. To investigate the Al solubility mechanism, I used Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) to quantify H+ concentrations as a charge-balancing ion for Al3+ to replace Si4+, electron microprobe (EPMA) to measure Al concentrations, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to determine the coordination environment of Al in quartz. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Stebbins (Stanford University).

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My petrology experience ranges from low to high pressure and from the field to the lab. As part of my undergraduate experience, I characterized ancient subglacial basalt pillow lavas and modern (ca. 2010) subglacial trachyandesite flows in Iceland, as well as the ongoing experimental basalt eruptions at SU. I hope to combine my volcanology and more recent experimental petrology knowledge as I proceed with my career.

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EAR 110: Dynamic Earth (Fall 2014)

EAR 117: Oceanography (Spring 2015, Fall 2016)

EAR 225: Volcanoes and Earthquakes (Fall 2015)

EAR 317: Mineralogy (Spring 2016)


Was, E., Thomas, J., and Nachlas, W., Aluminum Solubility Mechanisms in Quartz: Implications for Al-in-Quartz Thermobarometry. AGU Fall Meeting Poster (2016).

Was, E., Edwards, B. R., Pollock, M., Hauksdottir, S., Gudmundsson, M. T., Hiatt, A. R., Perpalaj, A., Plascencia, E., Reinthall, M., and Silverstein, A., Along-axis variations in volcanology and geochemistry of a pillow-dominated tindar: Comparison of exposures in Undirlithar and Vatnsskarth quarries, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland. AGU Fall Meeting Poster (2013).

Polluck, M., Edwards, B.R., Bowman, L., Was, E., Alcorn, R., Hauksdottir, S., Can Detailed Mapping of Subglacial Pillow Lavas Inform our Understanding of Pillow-dominated Submarine Eruptions? AGU Fall Meeting Poster (2012).