In 2013, I completed my Ph.D. in Planetary Science (specializing in the paleomagnetism of extraterrestrial materials) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I am currently conducting research in paleomagnetism and thermochronology [Ar-Ar and (U-Th)/He] as a Postdoctoral Researcher at UC-Berkeley and the Berkeley Geochronology Center.
I recently accepted a position at Rutgers University as Assistant Professor of Planetary Sciences, beginning January 2016. In the interim, I am a Visiting Research Scientist at Rutgers.
Lunar Magnetism Research:
My work on lunar paleomagnetism began during my graduate school years at MIT. My research thus far has focused on constraining the temporal evolution and decline of the ancient lunar core dynamo magnetic field.
During my graduate work with Ben Weiss, I demonstrated that the lunar dynamo field declined in intensity by at least an order of magnitude (from a terrestrial-strength ~70 μT field to <~5 μT) between 3.56 and 3.19 billion years ago (Ga). This decline suggests that at least one field generation mechanism may have ceased during this period. Many lunar samples younger than 3.19 Ga contain enigmatic remanent magnetizations of uncertain origin. I am actively working on determining whether or not such younger samples formed in the presence of a late core dynamo field.
Establishing the lifetime and intensity record of the lunar magnetic field has implications for the dynamo generation mechanism as well as for the thermal and orbital evolution of the Moon (depending on whether the dynamo was powered by convection or mantle precession). In collaboration with magnetohydrodynamic modelers and lunar thermal evolution modelers, I am trying to determine which dynamo generation mechanisms are most consistent with the lunar paleomagnetic record.
Impact Cratering Research:
When impact shock waves pass through target rocks in the presence of a magnetic field, rocks may acquire a form of magnetization called shock remanent magnetization (SRM). In collaboration with Jerome Gattacceca (CEREGE/CNRS, France), I studied the acquisition of SRM across various magnetic mineralogies. In January 2014, I started a dual postdoctoral appointment at UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Geochronology Center with Nicholas Swanson-Hysell, David Shuster, and Paul Renne. I am currently searching for natural examples of shock remanent magnetization at the Slate Islands Impact Structure (Canada) using a combination of paleomagnetic and thermochronology methods.
Other research directions:
(1) Assessing the ubiquity of differentiation processes/dynamo activity in the early solar system by studying the paleomagnetism of different meteorite classes. This will allow us to determine which classes of parent planetesimals were capable of segregation into a core and mantle, as well as development of a core dynamo magnetic field.
(2) Better constraining the timing and tectonic setting of the India-Eurasia collision by paleomagnetic (paleolatitude) and geochronology analyses of Himalayan rocks.
(3) Studying the physical effects of impact cratering events on planetary surfaces. Understanding the interplay of shock, impact heating, and hydrothermal alteration processes on target rocks will allow us to better understand the magnetic signatures of cratered surfaces on other planetary bodies.
(4) Searching for fossilized remnants of magnetotactic bacteria in deep time (this was my first undergraduate research project in paleomagnetism and I’m sentimental about it!).Follow @smtikoo