2017 Year in Review

In 2017 the experimental petrology group comprised five members of continuing academic staff (Andrew Berry, Ian Campbell John Mavrogenes, Hugh O'Neill, and Greg Yaxley), five postdoctoral fellows (Antonio Acosta-Vigil, Antony Burnham, Xianzhe Duan, Charles Le Losq, and Guil Mallmann), three technical staff, and 18 PhD students. Eleanor Mare and Louise Schoneveld submitted their PhD theses during the year, with Eleanor taking up a postdoc at the University of St Andrews and Louise moving to a position at CSIRO in Perth.

Two new fully automated piston-cylinders were commissioned in 2017, bringing the total number of operational piston-cylinders to 11.  We also took delivery of a JEOL JXA-8530F HyperProbe, funded by an ARC LIEF grant led by Greg Yaxley, which has been installed in the Centre for Advanced Microscopy. The new microprobe, which has a field-emission electron gun, is producing excellent data.

We continue to be successful with awards of beamtime at synchrotron light sources, including five at the Australian Synchrotron ("The coordination of niobium in carbonatite melts", "The effect of Fe oxidation state on the solubility of Zr in silicate melts", "Structural environment of trace elements in silicate melts as a function of pressure", "XANES investigation of the redox state of iron in boninite melt inclusions", and "An in-situ high-pressure and high-temperature study of the speciation of U and Th in silicate magmas"), three at the Advanced Photon Source in the USA ("The oxygen fugacity of the lithospheric mantle sampled by non-diamondiferous kimberlites", "Redox state of boninitic magmas", and "Phase relations in the system MgO-ZnO at high pressure"), and one at Soleil in France ("The oxidation state of Sn in silicate glasses"). Further, Andrew Berry was appointed to the Beamline Advisory Panel of the MEX (Medium Energy XAS) beamline being built by the Australian Synchrotron, and PhD student Laura Miller was elected as the student representative on the Australian Synchrotron User Advisory Committee (UAC).

The research highlight of the year was a paper in Nature Geoscience by Antony Burnham and Andrew Berry describing geochemical ways of distinguishing detrital zircons from different types of granites with implications for the Earth's crust in the Hadean ("Formation of Hadean granites by melting of igneous crust", Nature Geoscience, 10, 457-461, 2017). The paper was reported by 29 news outlets and Antony was interviewed live on ABC TV.

Figure: Sector zoning of REE in a 40 µm crystal of synthetic zircon imaged by PhD student Laura Crisp using the Cameca nanoSIMS 50L at the University of Western Australia.