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Research School of Earth Sciences
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Research Activities 2009

Earth Chemistry


Click on the links below to read the 2009 Earth Chemistry research highlights or Click HERE to download the PDF version



The chemistry and isotope chemistry of natural materials is highly indicative of provenance and process throughout geological history. Our studies range in time from the earliest solar system through to processes that are actively taking place today, and in scope from planetary systems to individual molecules. Active areas of research centre on planetary studies, metamorphic and igneous geochemistry and geochronology, geochemistry of life processes, and chronology of all processes encompassed.

Most of our analytical work involves detailed analysis on the microscale, or concentrating trace elements from larger samples for high precision analysis. Isotopic systems can reveal both the nature of the processes involved (stable isotopes) as well as the timing of events (radiogenic isotopes), while chemical and molecular abundances can reflect protolith contributions and processes affecting various systems including biologic systems. As revealed in this year's research contributions, analytical work can be applied to topics in tectonics, ore genesis, metamorphic petrology, paleoclimate, paleoecology and regolith dating.


Following on from the establishment of the SHRIMP and Chemistry laboratory facilities in J5, the J3 laboratory where SHRIMP II was formerly located, was renovated as a Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry laboratory. The Thermo-Finnigan Matt 261 mass spectrometer has been installed and is now operational. The award of a LIEF grant to fund a new Triton mass spectrometer will provide the latest technology for high-precision isotopic analysis of Earth and Planetary materials. Earth Chemistry personnel participated in the Geochemistry, Mineralogy, and Petrology review and enjoyed the opportunity of presenting their research agendas to the committee. Members of Earth Chemistry participated at numerous conferences, in particular Goldschmidt 2009 in Davos, Switzerland, Australian Space Science Conference in Sydney, and the American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco, USA.


Dr Vickie Bennett was promoted to Associate Professor.

Dr Daniela Rubatto was awarded the Dorothy Hill Prize of the Australian Academy of Science for 2009.

PhD studies were completed by Ryan Ickert.

Postgraduate studies were commenced by Ms Jane Thorne and Ms Barbara Frasl (supervised by Professor Trevor Ireland), Ms Katherine Boston (supervised by Dr Daniela Rubatto), Ms Jia-Urnn Lee (supervised by Dr Marnie Forster), and Mr Aditya Chopra (supervised by Dr Charley Lineweaver).

Dr Tsuyoshi Iizuka, a long-term visitor from the University of Tokyo, was awarded an ARC post-doctoral fellowship to continue his studies in early Earth and planetary systems.

Research Projects

How efficiently does the crust melt? Daniela Rubatto
Age of volcanism and its migration in the Samoa Islands Ian McDougall
Tectonic sequence diagrams used to characterise the evolution of the ductile movement zones in NW Himalaya Jia-Urnn Lee
Solar-wind exposure effects on lunar grains: Barbara Frasl
He, Ne and Ar in peridotitic and eclogitic paragenesis diamonds from the Jwaneng kimberlite, Botswana – constraints on diamond formation M. Honda
Molecular characterization of a Neoproterozoic hypersaline ecosystem Richard Schinteie
The Succession of Oxygen Producers in Early Oceans JOCHEN J. BROCKS
Sugar, spice and everything nice... The search for elemental ingredients of life Aditya Chopra
We are made of star dust Aditya Chopra
Successes and limitations of extinct nuclide initial abundances in meteorites by in-situ analysis Seann J. McKibbin
SHRIMP 'keyhole' geochronology: evidence for an extension of the Svecofennian orogenic province into north-eastern Poland Ian S. Williams
Experimental study of monazite/melt trace element partitioning Aleksander Stepanov
Testing the significance of hafnium isotopes in rutile across a crust-mantle transition Tanya Ewing
Genesis of granites: U-Pb geochronology and O-Hf isotopic analyses Heejin Jeon
Rate of growth of the preserved North American continental crust I.H. Campbell
Early crustal evolution deduced from monazite geochronology and geochemistry Tsuyoshi Iizuka
Noble gases and halogens in metamorphic, magmatic and hydrothermal systems M. Kendrick
Importance of uranium isotope variations for chronology of the Solar System’s first solids Yuri Amelin
Argon geochronology and microstructural analysis: a unique and reliable duo Marnie Forster