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Home | Distinguished Lecturers
The programme has the aim to promote interest and discussions across the broad field of Mineral Sciences (including all aspects of petrology and geochemistry at the Earth’s surface and at depth) the Mineralogical Society has appointed two lecturers, both of whom are good communicators and experts in their fields, to give lectures at universities and related institutions. The lectures will be aimed to appeal to undergraduates and research students as well as more advanced scientists. To promote the lectures, the Mineralogical Society pays the travel expenses of the lecturers; whilst the host departments cover any accommodation and dining expenses.
To apply for a visit by a distinguished lecturer in the 2010–11 academic year, please apply now (to the distinguished lecturer coordinator, Dr Martin Lee), if your department is interested in hosting either of these speakers in the 2010/11 academic year. Please send this completed form to Dr Lee.
Lectures offered by Richard Harrison
Lecture A: Mineral magnetism at the nanometre scale: or why size really does matter after all
Magnetic minerals are ubiquitous in the natural environment, and they are also present in a wide range of biological organisms, from bacteria to human beings. These minerals carry a wealth of information encoded in their magnetic properties that can be used to address an ever increasing range of geoscience problems, from the origins of the early solar system to quantifying variations in Earth’s paleoclimate. The last ten years have seen a striking improvement in our ability to detect and image the magnetization of minerals in geological and biological samples at the nanometre scale. Arguably the most significant recent advance in mineral magnetism is the application of off-axis electron holography, a transmission electron microscopy (TEM) technique that yields a two-dimensional map of magnetization vectors with nanometer spatial resolution. In this talk I will outline the principle of electron holography and demonstrate how this technique is revolutionising our understanding of magnetism at the nanometre scale.
Lecture B: Microstructures and mineral behaviour: from the nanometer to the planetary scale
One of the key goals (and one of the greatest achievements) of mineral physics has been the application of sophisticated experimental and theoretical methods to understand the relationship between the crystal structure of a mineral and its macroscopic properties and behaviour. Increasingly, however, it is becoming evident that microstructures can play a crucial role in determining the macroscopic behaviour of minerals, and that our experimental and theoretical understanding of microstructure-property relations lags far behind our understanding of the atomic scale. In this talk I will demonstrate how the presence of nanoscale microstructures can play a dominant role in determining the properties of minerals and how they might impact processes at the planetary scale, from the origin of low-frequency seismic attenuation in perovskite to the origin of magnetic anomalies in the crust of Mars.
Lectures offered by Jeff Harris
Lecture A: Smashing diamonds reveals their origins
Systematic studies on the mineral impurities contained within diamond and on diamond itself, have provided major insights into the conditions within the mantle under which this mineral formed. Diamond occurs principally in two distinct environments called peridotitic and eclogitic and form over the depth range of 150 to about 700km, a zone which covers the whole of the upper and part of the lower mantle. Diamonds from >200km are relatively rare, the majority for both environments, forming in the subcratonic lithospheric mantle at about 5.0 - 5.5GPa (50-55kbar) and 1160 ± 100°C. Within some of the mineral inclusions the analysis of radiogenic isotopes (Nd-Sm, Re-Os, Ar-Ar) indicates that the oldest isochron genesis age for peridotitic diamonds is 3520±170Ma, (Panda diamonds, Canada) with other determinations centred about 2000Ma (Premier and Venetia diamonds, South Africa). For eclogitic diamonds genesis ages are more distinctly episodic ranging from 2900Ma (Kimberley diamonds, South Africa), through 1580±60Ma (Argyle diamonds, Australia) to 990±50Ma (Orapa diamonds, Botswana). Trace element analyses, particularly of garnet inclusions, show that diamond formation is associated with the above rocks after they have undergone melt or fluid metasomatism.
In addition to these genesis reactions, the oxidation of a reduced species such as methane (CH4 + O2 = C + 2H2O) has recently been shown to be an important reaction for some peridotitic diamonds. Although the present subcratonic lithospheric mantle is considered too reduced for this reaction to occur, if the genesis age of these diamonds (1900Ma) is considered, then these diamonds formed as a result of an ancient reaction which became less important through time, because of the common subduction of biogenic carbonates which made the mantle more oxidised.
Lecture B: Fingerprinting diamonds
classification schemes using such physical properties as
shape, colour and surface features, help define diamond
populations. Such schemes are not only useful in their own
right, providing information about the trials and
tribulations of diamond travelling from the upper mantle,
but also can assist in diamond prospecting, particularly in
linking alluvial diamonds to a primary source.
The humble carbon
tetrahedron is the building block that enables diamond to
create a multitude of primary shapes, some of which then
undergo resorption. Diamond growth is usually episodic and
patterns may be either straightforward (related to the
external diamond shape), or be more complex, the patterns
indicating that the final shape will be a consequence of
more than one growth form. In other cases there appears to
be no clear growth sequence at all.
arises either through incorporation of atomic impurities
during growth or through external influences acting on the
diamond after growth. Nitrogen is the commonest atomic
impurity and specific configurations make diamond either
orange/amber or yellow. Small quantities of atomic boron
make diamond blue. Body-green diamonds are rare, but a
common variety at some mines is a green transparent coat. In
both instances the cause is linked to radiation damage
inflicted subsequent to formation. Brown in a diamond
population is closely associated with plastic deformation,
an event which occurs most likely during diamond residence
in the Earth’s upper mantle.
colours may be noted, classification shows that colourless,
yellow, and brown predominate at most mines. Transparent
green coated diamonds are found only in the upper oxidised
parts of kimberlite pipes. In alluvial deposits green and/or
brown spotted diamonds are often a feature, a form of
radiation damage which allows an estimate to be made as to
how long the diamond has been resident in that environment.
The Mineralogical Society Distinguished Lecturer series for 2009-10 is now complete. The appointed lecturers were Professor David Manning (University of Newcastle upon Tyne) and Professor Tony Fallick (SUERC, East Kilbride).
Mineral solutions to global problems
Minerals in biological systems
Prof. Manning spoke at:
The oxygen and hydrogen stable isotope geochemistry of
The stable isotope (18O/16O; D/H) composition of silicate and oxide minerals is usually a function of the temperature, isotopic characteristics and chemistry of the parental fluid from which they precipitated. The oxygen isotope fractionation factor between the fluid and the mineral depends on the environment of chemical bonding in a reasonably well-understood way. The application of such concepts to the precious stones emerald, ruby and sapphire is now established, and progress is being made with newer favourites such as red spinel and green garnet (tsavorite, tsavolite). The approach has proven particularly informative for semi-precious varieties such as agate and amethyst.
Lecture B: Planet Earth’s mid-life crisis: Carbon isotopes, concretions and the “Great oxidation event”
Around 2.2 billion years ago, the Earth experienced a series of dramatic upheavals which accompanied the transition from a reducing to an oxidising ocean/atmosphere system. The global carbon cycle was perturbed to an extent unparalleled before or since, with the changes documented in the stable carbon isotope record of carbonate (δ13Ccarb). From concretions in sediments, there is evidence that the manner in which organic matter is remineralised underwent radical change. However, the exact sequence of events leading to this “greatest pollution event of all time” (Lovelock) is not yet clear, and several aspects are paradoxical. It is an open question whether there was one or several excursions to high (δ13Ccarb); the end of the high δ13C record is reasonably well-established at 2056 ± 6Ma, but its inception is not well defined, so that only a minimum duration (~ 140 my) is known. The interplay of the records of oxidised carbon (as carbonate) and reduced carbon (as organic matter) is especially problematic. Recent drilling in Arctic Russia by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program FAR-DEEP Consortium has produced a marvellous new archive of 3.6km of drillcore with which these and other issues are being addressed.
Prof. Fallick spoke at:
In the 2008-2009 academic year, the appointed lecturers were: Prof. Liane Benning (Leeds University), and Dr Marian Holness (University of Cambridge).
track the birth of a nanoparticle: the fight between
kinetics and thermodynamics.
have fun looking for life in a MARS analogue site: an
Towards an understanding of
microstructural development in partially melted crustal
The 2007-8 lecture programme is now complete. Visits by Prof. J. Blundy and D.J. Vaughan were well received and the project has been deemed a great success.
Lecture given by Prof David Vaughan
Minerals, metals, molecules and
microbes: environmental mineralogy and sustainability
Lecture given by Prof Jon Blundy
machinations of explosive volcanoes