Research

General Interests

Elements move on earth’s surface and deep in its interior through the action of mobile agents such as fluids and silicate melts. John’s research focuses on what controls the movement of trace elements in chemical systems. Recent research has focused on using shifts in chemical and isotopic compositions to characterize the…

  • cycling of heavy metals between soil, porewater, surface water, shrimp, and rice (PhD student Matt Dietrich, funded by NSF).
  • fluxes of carbon dioxide and methane from Quaternary volcanic calderas in Yellowstone and Valles Caldera (PhD student Moyo Ajayi, in collaboration with Professor Tobias Fischer at University of New Mexico).
  • sources of salinity and arsenic in soils in SW Bangladesh (Master’s students David Fry, work funded by ONR, and Brooke Patton, funded by NSF).
  • provenance of soil in Nashville determined by measuring zircon U-Pb age spectra for soil and limestone bedrock (with Master’s student Nate Katsiaficas and visiting Professor Xiaomei Wang).
  • potential mobility of titanium and rare earth elements in magmas. PhD student Danny Flanagan is measuring the solubility of the mineral titanite (sphene) in magmas (with Calvin Miller, work funded by NSF).
  • potential mobility of trace elements in zircon-saturated fluids. PhD student Tim Peters has measured zircon/fluid partition coefficients for a wide range of trace elements (work funded by NSF).

GSA17_1047_cropped

Recently John became interested in how changes in chemical systems, often caused by natural resource extraction, affect sustainability. This caused him to write a book about sustainability from an earth scientist’s perspective, “Sustainability: An Environmental Science Perspective”, published by Taylor and Francis in 2017.

Fig 2

Zircon crystal being replaced by Na-Zr silicates. From an experiment conducted at high pressure and temperature in the Geochemistry laboratory at Vanderbilt. From Ayers et al. (2012).

What Students Do

Students choose whether they want to do laboratory, field, or theoretical work, or some combination of the three. Students doing lab or field work measure the chemical and isotopic compositions of their samples using a variety of sophisticated analytical tools at Vanderbilt and other locations. Theoretical work involves geochemical modeling, and may involve use of GIS software. John’s students develop problem solving skills and a quantitative understanding of earth processes. This experience is highly relevant to environmental problems. It is thus very practical, leading to job opportunities, and contributing to our knowledge of large-scale earth processes.

Selected Publications (*denotes Students)

Ayers J.C. (2017) Sustainability: An Environmental Science Perspective. Taylor & Francis Group, CRC Press, 322 pages, ISBN 9781498752657, https://www.amazon.com/Sustainability-Environmental-Perspective-John-Ayers/dp/1498752659

Ayers J.C., Goodbred S.L. (submitted) Arsenic Contamination in Southeast Asia. Oxford Bibliography Online, Environmental Science. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ayers J.C., George G., Fry D., Benneyworth L., Wilson C., Wallace Auerbach L., Roy K., Karim M.R., Akhter F., Goodbred S.L. (submitted) Sources of Salinity and Arsenic in SW Bangladesh 2: Surface Water. Applied Geochemistry.

Peters T., Ayers J.C. (submitted) Zircon/fluid trace element partition coefficients measured by recrystallization of Mud Tank zircon at 1.5 GPa and 800-1000°C. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta.

Pickering J.L., Beam J.C., Covey A.K., Ayers J.C., Goodbred S.L. (2017) Landform evolution of Late Pleistocene to recent terraces of the Brahmaputra-Jamuna River in the upper Bengal Basin. Basin Research. pp. 1-18, DOI: 10.1111/bre.12236

*Benneyworth L., Gilligan J., Ayers J.C., Carrico A., George G., Karim M.D., Akter F., *Fry D., Goodbred S., Donato D., Piya B. (2016), Drinking water insecurity: water quality and access in coastal Southwestern Bangladesh. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, DOI: 10.1080/09603123.2016.1194383

Ayers J.C., Goodbred S.L., George G., *Fry D., *Benneyworth L., Roy K., Karim M.R., Akhter F. (2016) Sources of Salinity and Arsenic in groundwater in Southwest Bangladesh. Geochemical Transactions, doi:10.1186/s12932-016-0036-6, http://www.geochemicaltransactions.com/content/17/1/4

Ayers J.C., Bryant D.L., Giles K. (2015) Effect of fluid composition on monazite solubility and growth rate at 1.0 GPa and 1000°C. American Mineralogist. http://dx.doi.org/10.2138/am-2015-5345

Hornberger G.M., Ayers J.C. (2014) Hydraulic Fracturing in the Development of Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources. Oxford Bibliography Online, Environmental Science. New York: Oxford University Press.

Goudie D.J., Fisher C.M., Hanchar J.M, Davis W.J., Crowley J.L., Ayers J.C. (2014) Simultaneous in situ determination of U-Th-Pb and Sm-Nd isotopes in monazite by laser ablation ICP-MS. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G-cubed), 26 pp., DOI 10.1002/2014GC005431.

*Lasley, Camille, Katsiaficas N., Ayers J.C. (2014) Provenance of a soil atop a terrace along the Harpeth River in Tennessee using immobile trace element concentration ratios. Young Scientist v. 4, pp. 21-22.

Ayers J.C., *Crombie S., *Loflin M., Miller C.F., Luo Y. (2013) Country rock monazite response to intrusion of the Searchlight pluton, southern Nevada. Amer. Jour. Science, v. 313, pp. 345-394. DOI 10.2475/04.2013.04.

Peters, T.*, Ayers J.C., Gao S., Liu X. (2013) The response of zircon in eclogite to metamorphism during the multi-stage evolution of the Huwan Shear Zone, China: Insights from Lu-Hf-U-Pb isotopic and trace-element geochemistry. Gondwana Research, v. 23, Issue 2, March 2013, pp. 726–747, doi:10.1016/j.gr.2012.05.008.

Ayers J.C., Zhang L.*, Luo Y., Peters T.* (2012) Solubility of zircon in neutral to alkaline aqueous fluids at upper crustal conditions. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta. v. 96, 18-28. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2012.08.027.

Luo Y., Ayers J.C. (2009) Experimental measurements of zircon/melt trace element partition coefficients.Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta v. 73, 3656-3679.doi:10.1016/j.gca.2009.03.027

Rabbia O.M., Hernández L.B., French D.H., King R.W. and Ayers J.C.(2009) The El Teniente porphyry Cu-Mo deposit from a hydrothermal rutile perspective. Mineralium Deposita.  dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00126-009-0252-4

JohnLuo Y., Sun M., Zhao G., Li S., Ayers J.C., Xia X., Zhang J. (2008) A comparison of U-Pb and Hf isotopic compositions of detrital zircons from the North and South Liaohe Groups: Constraints on the evolution of the Jiao-Liao-Ji Belt, North China Craton. Precambrian Research v. 163, 279-306.

Ayers J.C., *Loflin M., Miller C.F., Barton M.D., Coath C. (2006) Monazite used to determine the extent and timing of fluid infiltration in the Birch Creek Pluton metamorphic aureole. Geology 34(8), 653-8.  geology.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/34/8/653

*Lehner S.W., Savage K., Ayers J.C. (2006) Vapor growth and characterization of pyrite (FeS2) doped with Co, Ni, and As: Variations in semiconducting properties. Journal of Crystal Growth, v. 286, 306-317. doi:10.1016/j.jcrysgro.2005.09.062

*Bitting K., Ayers J.C., Savage K. (2005) Fact or fiction: The truth about water contamination in Manchester and Tullahoma, TN. In Proceedings of the Fifteenth Tennessee Water Resources Symposium, pp. 3C-20 to 3C-23, American Water Resources Association.

Bryant D. L., Ayers J. C., Gao S., Miller C. F., and Zhang H. (2004) Geochemical, Age, and Isotopic Constraints on the Location of the Sino-Korean/Yangtze Suture and Evolution of the Northern Dabie Complex, East Central China. Geological Society of America Bulletin 116, 698-717.bulletin.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/full/116/5-6/698

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