Official opening of the new Argon Laboratory at RSES

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Student research is a major and important aspect of the lab, where students are encouraged to come to learn and do their own research in our welcoming environment."

Official opening of the new Argon Laboratory

The new Argon Laboratory at RSES has been opened by DVC Professor Margaret Harding and the new RSES Director Professor Steve Eggins. The lab was funded by an ARC LIEF and ANU MEC grant, with additional financial support from RSES and the Structure and Tectonic Team, part of the Petrology, Geochemistry and Tectonics cluster.

It is one of the few laboratories at RSES that has been built and run by a female academic, Dr Marnie Forster.

"The laboratory is specifically designed to perform 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology diffusion experiments. The ultra-high vacuum extraction line and other accessories were dominantly built in-house with the RSES Engineering and Electronic Workshops. This has allowed us to design apparatus to suit our specific scientific needs with the highest standard and designing unique apparatus, such as independently run dual temperatures-controlled furnaces", said Dr Marnie Foster.

The science undertaken in the laboratory focusses on diffusion experiments under vacuum which involves a variety of research, for example: research on argon diffusion in feldspars above or at the solidus; timing of complex alteration zones in mineralization zones; impact of volcanic eruptions on the hominin colinizations; dating microtektites to understand palaeomagnetic and palaeoclimatic signals; unravelling the timing of extension in the Himalaya; timing and tectonics of Indonesia and so forth.

"Student research is a major and important aspect of the lab, where students are encouraged to come to learn and do their own research in our welcoming environment", said Dr Marnie Foster.

To celebrate the oficial opening of the Argon Laboratory, a poetry competition was held. The winning poem was written by Dr Anthony Burnham: 

To test out new tectonic theories,
And pre-empt reviewers' queries,
One finds, or failing that, invents
The age of mineral growth events
Identifies a textural feature
Example being that curious creature
A mica "fish" and cooks it up (all
Monitored by thermocouple)
The argon from the muscovite
Will tell you, if you do it right,
The time that crystal cooled below
The closure temperature. I don't know
Exactly how the deformation
Relates to this; the information
Is useful though, and highly sought
And that's why Marnie here has bought
A new machine to measure dates
And thus constrain tectonic rates
I won't point out, 'cause I'm no jerk,
That argon's name means "doesn't work"
I've talked too long: some people are swaying,
And so I'd like to close by saying:
"To Marnie's brand new mass spectrometer!"
(This poem was written in iambic tetrameter.)

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