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Research Activities 2012

Earth Chemistry





As is illustrated in the research highlights and activities sections, research by members of the Earth Chemistry group spans the geologic timescale from the beginning of the solar system through to the present day, and in scope from planetary systems to individual molecules.  Active areas of research within the Earth Chemistry area include planetary and early Earth studies, metamorphic and igneous geochemistry, geochemistry of life processes, and development and improvement of analytical methods and instrumentation to determine the chronology of processes at all time scales.

2012 was a year of strong research productivity with a continuing flow of publications in national and international journals. Earth Chemistry faculty and students were also prominent at national and international conferences, including organization, convening sessions and conference presentations at the Goldschmidt Conference, held in Montreal in June, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at Houston in March, American Geophysical Union meeting in December in San Francisco and the 2012 International Geologic Congress, Brisbane in August.

Awards this year included the presentation to Charley Lineweaver of the 2012 David Allen Prize, given only once every 3 years, from the Astronomical Society of Australia "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to fostering public interest in astronomy". Kelly Strzepek won the Peter Holloway Award for best student presentation at the joint Australian Marine Sciences Association and New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Conference in Hobart in June and the best student presentation award at the Australian Organic Geochemistry Conference in Sydney. The 2012 Robert Hill memorial prize was given to Aditya Chopra.  The Prize is awarded to an RSES student who has displayed outstanding research, communication and scientific outreach in the Earth Sciences. Alex McCoy-West was awarded the 2012 D.A. Brown travel scholarship, which he will use to attend the 2013 Goldschmidt Conference in Florence.

Congratulations to Aleksandr Stepanov (PhD supervisor Daniela Rubatto) and Heejin Jeon (PhD supervisor Ian Williams) on successful completion of their PhD programs.

In 2012 we welcomed the arrival of 7 new PhD students to the area.  New staff member Sonja Zink took up her position in April as the technical officer responsible for the geochemistry clean laboratory and thermal ionization mass spectrometry laboratory.  We congratulate Xiaodong Zhang, (Noble Gas Laboratory Manager) and Shane Paxton (Mineral Separation Facility Manager) on their reclassifications in the last promotion round. Hontong Gao was appointed as the new mineral separation technician.  We look forward to his arrival in January.

2012 was a year of consolidation and much-needed renewal of some facilities. Many Earth Chemistry staff and students were able to leave the basement bowels and expand into office space in the “Old Library” wing following the completion of building J8. On a sad note, the deconstruction of SHRIMP I was completed in 2012. It has been a landmark instrument for RSES and is responsible for many pioneering scientific studies. Many of the main components of the SHRIMP I will live on in display in the SHRIMP laboratory (Bldg. J5). The newest generation large ion-probe, the SHRIMP SI continues to progress. Analysis of conductive materials demonstrates that SHRIMP SI is capable of extremely high precision and accuracy for stable isotope measurements. The old SHRIMP 1 laboratory space underwent timely refurbishments, becoming the new state-of-the-art accelerator mass spectrometery-14C sample preparation laboratory (academic supervisor Stewart Fallon). This new laboratory also houses the MEC funded stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer for automated sample preparation.  There was also major refurbishment of the old argon instrument laboratory prior to the installation of the new ARC-funded Argus mass spectrometer (academic supervisor Marnie Forster).  We end the year on a positive note with the scheduled arrival in January 2013 of the long-awaited ARC funded Helix MC, a new generation mass spectrometer for noble gas isotopic measurements (academic supervisor Masahiko Honda).


Dr. Vickie Bennett
Associate Director, Earth Chemistry

Research Projects