In this series we present fictive “News Articles” which some of us wrote when participating in a Science Communication Workshop at ANU. If you want to know more about the Why and How, please see this post here.

While the projects described are PhD projects that are on the way at RSES, the results (if they are described) in those “news articles” are by no means final and can be described from “That`s my current interpretation of my data that I came up with last night and I haven`t tested yet” to “Wishfull thinking”.

The aim of this series is to provide you with a glimpse of the diversity of ongoing Earth Science research at ANU, not to present final results.

And now, without further ado …


Lab grown crystals hold the answer to rock formation

By Louise

Small amounts of elements, in two minerals could be a new master key for unlocking the mysteries of how deep rocks formed.

Louise Schoneveld, a young doctoral candidate is currently simulating conditions from deep in the earth’s crust and growing crystals in the lab at Australian National University.

“Small amounts of powders are placed under the appropriate pressures and temperatures and they melt, and from this melt grow tiny crystals” explains, Miss Schoneveld. From the crystals; no bigger than the head of a pin, she hopes to create a “code” to help unlock the formation conditions of the Earths lower crust.

“When the crystals grow, they pick up elements. The amount of these elements change when the crystals form from different compositions and in various temperatures and pressures” says Miss Schoneveld.

Determining how much of these elements occur under various conditions will allow Miss Schoneveld compile a database of elemental amounts in a whole combination of temperatures, pressures and compositions.

“Once you have measured the amount of elements in these minerals, you can then look at this database and figure out in what conditions this rock formed,” says Miss Schoneveld.

This will be a great tool for other scientists to help confidently determine the formation conditions of rocks from many different locations in the world.