Meet our Graduate Students: Simone Runyon

Simone Runyon stands in front of a rocky outcroppingDegree Program: PhD

One of my favorite classes is our Ore Deposits Mapping course, which is a ten day trip around Nevada. We go to all sorts of different deposit types across a handful of different districts and learn how to identify, think about, and map alteration in detail. We bring phase diagrams on hikes, and think about volumes of hydrothermal fluids while walking on quartz veins. You get a ridiculous amount of information every day, but there's no better way to learn. On top of that, you get to tour some crazy small-town Nevada nightlife.

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How did you become interested in geosciences?
I always liked geology. When I was a little kid one of my favorite movies was Journey to the Center of the Earth, I had a rock collection, and I read every book I could find about volcanoes and minerals. I took Earth Sciences and Physical Geology courses in high school, both of which I enjoyed. But it wasn't until my freshman year in undergraduate, when I decided to go on an optional field trip, that I realized I loved geology. This was back in Illinois, so we went on a trip to a state park and a limestone quarry: we climbed over muddy slopes, and broke open chunks of limestone looking for fossils. At the end of the day I was covered in dirt, and I was exhausted. My professor asked me if I enjoyed myself and I fervently responded about how much fun I had. He told me that if I became a geologist, I could spend everyday outside. By the end of the week, I had switched majors to Geology. I still don't get to spend every day outside, but I can't imagine doing anything else.

Please describe your research.
I am studying deep hydrothermal alteration in porphyry copper systems. Out here in the Basin and Range province, extension and rotation along normal faults has exposed deep portions of hydrothermal systems that are not readily available elsewhere. Much of the alteration I am documenting has received little attention in previous studies. As a result, I get to visit world-class porphyry districts and document relatively unknown features. This work will help us to better understand deep processes of porphyry copper systems.

Can you describe your field area?
I  have a few different field sites, mostly around central-southern Arizona. There's a lot of beauty in the desert, and you get to appreciate a lot of it when you spend time in the field. This year, I got to hike through blooming Saguaros and agaves that were scattered all around a field area.