Fluid-Rock Geochemistry and Biomineralogy
My interests involve reactive fluid flow and mineralization in sedimentary and volcanic systems in both ancient and modern environments, as well as microbially mediated reactions at the earth's surface. I primarily focus on the geochemistry of mass extinctions and the role of tectonics in shale gas development (particularly during the late Devonian), and the geomicrobiology of cave deposits. I also work on the geochemistry of the Engare Sero Footprint Site in Tanzania.
Geomicrobiology: Since 2009, I have worked extensively with Dr. Suzanna Bräuer in the Department of Biology, and Dr. Cara Santelli at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum on manganese oxide biominerals produced by both bacteria and fungi. We do extensive fieldwork in southern Appalachian caves as well as on a variety of regional rocks at the surface that have experienced reactive fluid flow and/or biomineralization. For more information about our geomicrobiology research group, visit http://geomicrobiology.appstate.edu.
Paleoclimate: My more recent project involves work with Appalachian Geology Professor Johnny Waters and the UNESCO-funded International Geoscience Programme Project 596, which studies climate change and biodiversity in the mid Paleozoic. With collaborators from around the world, we work primarily in the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (western China and western Mongolia), in southeast Asia, and in Europe to determine the extent and scope of Devonian ocean anoxia events, the role of tectonics in shale gas development, and the rebound from the mass extinctions associated with these events. For more information about the DAGGER (Devonian Anoxia, Geochemistry, Geochronology, and Extinction Research) Group, visit http://devonian.appstate.edu.
Engare Sero Footprint Site: I am also affiliated with the research team working at the Engare Sero footprint site on the shores of Lake Natron, Tanzania. This work is led by Dr. Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce, in collaboration with anthropologists from the Smithsonian and American Museum of Natural History. My role in the project is to help determine the volcanic environment and preservation mineralogy of the hominid footprints.
News and Updates
- August 2016 - Sarah is elected a Councilor for the Mineralogical Society of America (2017-2019)
- March 2016 - Sarah receives GRAM (Graduate Research Associate Mentoring) funding for incoming graduate students in the geomicrobiology program.
- December 2015 - Sarah and Suzanna Bräuer receive RIEEE-CONCERT funding to study biological Mn oxidation in acid mine drainage at the Ore Knob Superfund Site, Ashe County, NC.
- June 2015 - Recent work by DAGGER group published: Shallow water facies setting around the Kačák Event – a multidisciplinary approach, in Devonian Climate, Sea-Level and Evolutionary Events (a Special Publication of the Geological Society of London)
- April 2015 - Congratulations to graduate student Mara Cloutier (MS - Biology) for her awards from the Cave Research Foundation and the Geological Society of America
- April 2015 - Recent work by the geomicrobiology research group in press: Nutrient input influences fungal community composition and size and can stimulate Mn(II) oxidation in caves, Environmental Microbiology Reports (doi:10.1111/1758-2229.12291)
- March 2015 - Recent work by the DAGGER group in press: Climate instability and tipping points in the Late Devonian: Detection of the Hangenberg Event in an open oceanic island arc in the Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Gondwana Research (doi:10.1016/j.gr.2015.02.009)
- October 2014 - Sarah wins the William C. Strickland Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the College of Arts and Sciences
- September 2014 - Recent work by the Geomicrobiology Research Group accepted: Microbial diversity and manganese cycling: a review of Mn-oxidizing microbial cave communities, (invited book chapter for Microbial Life of Cave Systems, in Life in Extreme Environments, Volume 3, De Gruyter, Boston, MA) - anticipated publication date of October 2015
- April 2014 - Sarah receives a QEP Targeted Learning Grant ("The Rocks Don't Care Where You Live") to develop international collaborations on projects in Paleozoic field sites (with co-PI Johnny Waters).
- March 2014 - Congratulations to Cameron Batchelor '16 for receiving the Explorer's Club Youth Activity Grant
- Feburary 2014 - Recent work by the DAGGER group published: A New Model for the Kellwasser Anoxia Events (Late Devonian): Shallow Water Anoxia in an Open Oceanic Setting in the Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (DOI:10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.02.016)
- December 2013 - Hot off the presses, all the things you (never?) wanted to know about human feces in caves, and the interplay with manganese oxide mineralization! Evidence of Sustained Anthropogenic Impact in Carter Saltpeter Cave, Carter County, Tennessee, Journal of Cave and Karst Science
- December 2013 - Sarah's work on the geochemistry of mass extinctions in the Late Devonian (a collaboration with Dr. Johnny Waters and a UNESCO-sponsored team of international researchers) highlighted in Science Daily.
- August 2013 - Sarah traveled to Kunming, China to participate in the NSF- and CNSF-sponsored Sino-US Critical Transitions Workshop: History of Life Evolution in Critical Geological Periods workshop. She presented her collaborative work with Dr. Johnny Waters on the geochemistry of the Frasnian-Fammenian extinction.
- April 2013 - Sarah receives the Wayne D. Duncan Faculty Enrichment and Teaching Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching in General Education
- April 2013 - Congratulations to Josh Feierstein '15 for his research award at the 16th Celebration of Student Research and Creative Endeavors
- March 2013 - Recent work by the Carmichael-Bräuer geomicrobiology research group now in press: Mn(II)-oxidizing bacteria are abundant and environmentally relevant members of ferromanganese deposits in caves of the upper Tennessee River Basin (Geomicrobiology Journal).
- March 2013 - Sarah receives grant to study the geochemistry of an early human footprinted ash in Tanzania from the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees
- January 2013 - Sarah receives ShaRE grant to study biological Mn oxidation via TEM-EELS microscopy at Oak Ridge National Laboratories
- June 2012 - Congratulations to Leigh Anne Roble '12 and Aubry DeReuil '13 for presenting their research at the V.M. Goldschmidt Conference in Montreal, QB, Canada.
- April 2012 - Congratulations to Leigh Anne Roble '12 and Aubry DeReuil '13 for winning awards for their research at the 15th Annual Celebration of Student Research and Creative Endeavors
- December 2011 - Carmichael-Bräuer geomicrobiology research group's work on microbial biominerals spotlighted in the Appalachian news
- April 2011 - Sarah receives grant to study biominerals from NC Space Grant New Investigator's Program