The mineral-water interface is where the action happens: be it crystal growth, adsorption reactions, mineral dissolution, redox reactions, or even the growth of crystallites from the melt. It is the conduit by which life communicates with the geology of an environment. Processes at the interface control fresh water quality, the development of soils and the distribution of plant nutrients, the development of certain ore deposits, the mobility of contaminants, biomineralization, and the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, just to name a few. My research focuses on the understanding of environmentally-relevant processes at the mineral-water interface. My approach is a combination of surface-sensitive techniques (e.g. microscopic and spectroscopic), electrochemical methods, and molecular simulations to describe surface-mediated processes.
I am currently interested in the following topics:
- The oxidation of sulfides as it relates to acid mine drainage or the contaminated leachate from hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”
- The role of the atomic and electronic structure of sulfide and oxide surfaces in redox reactions that immobilize aqueous species such as arsenic, chromium, and uranium (and other actinides)
- Incorporation of noble metals into sulfides and implications for the formation of some types of ore deposits
- Photochemical reactions on mineral surfaces and their role in regulating the concentration of redox-sensitive elements in the photic zones of surface waters or the atmosphere
- Microbe-mineral interactions
Renock D. and Becker, U. (2011) First principles investigation of coupled substitution mechanisms in galena. Ore Geology Reviews (in press)
Renock D. and Becker U. (2010) A first principles study of the oxidation energetic and kinetics of realgar. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74, 4266-4284.
Renock D., Gallegos T.J., Utsunomiya S., Hayes K.F., Ewing R.C., and Becker, U. (2009) Chemical and structural characterization of As immobilization by nanoparticles of mackinawite (FeS m ). Chemical Geology 268, 116-125.
Pointeau V., Deditius A.P., Miserque F., Renock D., Becker U., Zhang J., Clavier N., Dacheux N., Poinssot C., and Ewing R.C. (2009) Synthesis of coffinite. Journal of Nuclear Materials 393, 449-458.
Deditius A. P., Utsunomiya S., Renock D., Ewing R. C., Ramana C. V., Becker U., and Kesler S. E. (2008) A proposed new type of arsenian pyrite: Composition, nanostructure and geological significance. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72, 2919-2933.