Jonas Toupal, a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, presented his work at presented at the prestigious Goldschmidt conference in June 2020. Goldschmidt is the largest geochemical conference, organized by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry and switches places between USA and Europe each year. Jonas also worked as a student volunteer at the conference. Originally, theconference was supposed to take place in Hawaii, but had to go virtual due to the COVID situation. Jonas presented his preliminary research results based on the water samples he collected and analyzed at Penn during fall 2019. In his analysis, Jonas looked at the aqueous geochemistry of several streams near a lithium deposit of Cínovec, Czech Republic. The lithium minerals are also rich in fluorine. The research team found that fluoride concentration seems to increase with decreasing altitude, likely due to groundwater inflow into the surface streams. Lithium values were well within typical background concentrations. More work needs to be done in this as well as other deposits to draw more concrete conclusions, but so far it appears that fluoride is leached from these minerals, proving the importance of Jonas’s work. Additionally, a speciation modeling was done using the PHREEQC software to show which minerals are saturated/undersaturated, showing that lithium micas are indeed being dissolved in this environment. This work is important in understanding how mining practices could be polluting our surface and ground water.
Jonas is the recipient of the Water Center’s 2019 research grants for graduate students. He is currently a PhD student advised by Prof. Reto Giere in Earth and Environmental Science Department.