COSAM » COSAM Faculty » Geosciences » Ashraf Uddin » Himalayan Research Lab » Research


Our research programs are primarily two-fold. One aspect is on the geology of active continental margins, analyzing stratigraphic sequences to investigate how fundamental tectonic processes operate where lithospheric plates converge and collide. The other aspect deals with contaminant groundwater in alluvial aquifers of Quaternary deltas, and the biogeochemical processes involved in elevated levels of various contaminants, particularly arsenic in the aquifers.  In addition to purely academic questions about how the earth works, these research endeavors have important practical long-term applications for (1) our understanding and ultimate mitigation of geologic hazards in these regions characterized by devastating earthquakes, land subsidence, flooding, and (2) assessing natural mineral and energy resources that are typically concentrated along modern and ancient convergent continental margins, including an enormous, resource-laden delta.

Our group studies stratigraphic sequences deposited at modern and ancient collision zones, focusing on aspects of sedimentary sequences that are sensitive to tectonic settings and processes.  These aspects include such varied geologic features as lithofacies architecture, detrital mineralogy, patterns of subsidence and uplift, and deformational styles; this type of research, in order to make an impact, demands interdisciplinary approaches and a broad base of experience and expertise.  Because the controlling factors can be observed in modern systems, this work provides valuable constraints both for geoscientists who work on older geologic terranes and for our understanding of the part of our environment that provides most of our natural resources. Work in subsurface lithofacies analysis includes the first reconstruction of a paleo-drainage system from the huge Himalayan-Indo-Burman orogenic belt and clastic wedge. Sandstone petrology work, including heavy-mineral analyses and mineral chemistry, has initiated considerable debates on provenance and early orogenesis in the eastern Himalayas.

Our group collects groundwater from tube wells penetrated to various depths in arsenic-effected alluvial aquifers of Bangladesh in order to record a variety of geochemical parameters. Bioremediation experiments using sulfate-reducing bacteria are underway and are being constantly monitored. Fresh core samples are collected from 500-foot deep wells and a series of mineralogical tests are underway to establish mutual interactions between groundwater and mineral phases that release arsenic in groundwater.  Problematic arsenic concentrations seem to be confined to inland Quaternary deltas and recent floodplains that drain from the Himalayas and the Indo-Burman ranges. 

Last Updated: 05/26/2016