Distinguished Lecturer Series 2018-2019

COMPRES, the Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences announces the speakers for its 2018-2019 Distinguished Lecture series in the field of Mineral Physics. The talks feature topics that emphasize the exciting high-pressure geoscience research being conducted within the COMPRES community and its significance for understanding fundamental Earth and planetary processes.  

The primary target audience for these lectures is undergraduates in departments of geology and related sciences at non-PhD granting institutions, but applications from all academic institutions in the U.S. are welcome.   

We are pleased to announce that the COMPRES Distinguished Lecturers for 2018-2019 are Bin Chen of the University of Hawaii and Anne Pommier of the University of California, San Diego. Their lecture titles, abstracts and bios are below. We invite you to request a visit of a COMPRES lecturer to your institution during the next academic year by following these instructions.
COMPRES will fund all travel costs for the speaker, including transportation, accommodation and meals. There is no cost to the hosting institution. The host colleges or universities will be expected to arrange the talks and provide local logistical support.

If your institution is interested in requesting a visit, please send your request to Carl Agee, President of COMPRES [agee@unm.edu] with a copy to Beth Ha [beth3ha@unm.edu].

The Lecture Program is designed to run from September 2018 through May 2019. Lecturer requests received by October 1, 2018 will be given priority. Later applications will be considered on an as-available basis. In making your request please include:  

1.  The name of a contact person at your institution for the months of June to August.  This is when schedules will be assembled.
2.  Contact e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
3.  Lecturer preference and flexibility.
4.  Preferred semester and/or month for the visit, including flexibility.  Also, if this is to be part of a regular lecture series, tell us the day of the week and time of the series.
5. Airport proximity and travel time to your institution   

We hope that your Department will be interested in hosting one of these mineral physics lecturers in this academic year.  
COMPRES is supported by the National Science Foundation Division of Earth Sciences.

Bin Chen

Bin Chen

Bin Chen earned both his B.S. (2001) and M.S. (2004) in Geochemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China. He obtained his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. From 2009 to 2011, he was the Texaco Prize Postdoctoral Scholar at the Seismological Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology. In 2011, he moved to the University of Michigan as a Postdoctoral Fellow and was then promoted to Assistant Research Scientist. In March of 2013, he became a Research Assistant Professor at the UIUC and COMPRES Chief Technology Officer stationed at the Advanced Photon Source of Argonne National Laboratory. In January of 2014, he joined the faculty of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at the University of Hawaii as an Assistant Researcher. He was the recipient of J. C. Jamieson Award in 2010 from the Gordon Research Conference (Research at High Pressure) and the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (2016–2021) from the National Science Foundation. He works on the physics, chemistry, and thermo-chemical evolution of the deep interiors of the Earth and Earth-like planetary bodies, through direct probing of microscopic properties of planetary materials under pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions pertinent to planetary interiors. He employs both multi-anvil presses and diamond-anvil cells for generating high pressures and temperatures and often combines them with various laser, X-ray, and micro-analytical techniques for his research.

(1) Experimental Simulations of Planetary Interiors

Geoscientists have long recognized the importance of generating extreme pressures and temperatures to reproduce in laboratory settings the conditions present in planetary interiors. Such experiments provide the basis for understanding the nature and mechanisms of dynamic processes taking place within deep interiors of Earth and other planetary bodies. Since early 1960s, mineral physics has rapidly emerged and been recognized as an important interdisciplinary field in Earth sciences, providing an essential link between laboratory measurements of the physical and chemical properties of minerals and rocks under extreme conditions and the geophysical and geochemical observations of the Earth’s interiors. Advanced high-pressure and synchrotron X-ray techniques have permitted experimental mineral physicists to probe the micro-scale properties of planetary materials that govern macro-scale behaviors of the complex planetary systems. Here, I will briefly describe the past, present, and future of the field, followed by recent research on the viscoelastic properties of iron-carbon liquids, elastic and thermal transport properties of high-pressure ices, and the implications on the internal structure and dynamics of planetary interiors.

(2) Carbon in Earth's Deepest Interior and Our Habitable Planet

Carbon, the fourth most abundant element in the Solar System and backbone of life, is depleted by three orders of magnitude in the silicate Earth but mostly resides in Earth’s metallic core. It is among the principal light elements that are considered to alloy with iron, necessary to explain seismic observations of the core. The sequestration of a large amount of carbon into the core might have occurred during the core formation in early history of the Earth; this first and ancient carbon cycle may hold key to our understanding of the distinct geochemical imprints in the silicate Earth (i.e., iron and carbon isotopes) left behind by this process. I will discuss recent mineral physics studies on iron carbides and Fe-Ni-C liquids at extreme conditions, with a focus on the core chemistry, pathways of carbon from star birth to planet formation, and the thermochemical evolution of our habitable planet.

Anne Pommier

Anne Pommier

Anne Pommier got a Civil Engineering degree and a Master’s degree in Earth sciences from the University of Orleans, France, and her Ph.D. in experimental petrology at the Institut des Sciences de la Terre d’Orléans (ISTO), CNRS-University of Orléans. From 2010-14, she was a postdoctoral researcher at MIT and a SESE Postdoctoral Fellow at ASU, and from 2014 to the present, she has been a faculty at UC San Diego – Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, where she has developed a high-pressure experimental lab. Her research consists of investigating questions related to the structure and evolution of planetary interiors (such as the ones of the Earth, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Ganymede) by conducting experiments in the laboratory under pressure and temperature in order to probe the physical and chemical properties of mantle and core analogues. Her work involves collaborations with geophysicists, petrologists, and geodynamicists.

(1) Core Crystallization and its Impact on Planetary Cooling

Core crystallization is a crucial ingredient in the evolution of terrestrial planets and moons and is controlled primarily by chemistry and temperature. Crystallization within a metallic core releases latent heat and gravitational energy, influencing significantly the processes responsible for the presence of a magnetic field. The diversity of magnetic fields observed in small terrestrial bodies, such as the Moon, Mars, Mercury or Ganymede suggests different core cooling history. Past space missions have observed that Mars and the Moon do not currently possess an internally-generated magnetic field but likely had one early in their history, while Mercury currently possesses a weak magnetic field and Ganymede is characterized by a strong one. The origin of this diversity is not well understood and seems to depend highly on the onset, depth, and rate of crystallization. This presentation will focus on the effect of chemistry on core crystallization and its implications for the magnetic field. All results will be compared to the magnetic history and available observational constraints on the core structure, temperature and composition of Mars, the Moon, Mercury and Ganymede.

(2) Using Electrical Conductivity to Probe the Interior of the Earth

Electrical conductivity measured both in the field and in the laboratory provides a powerful means of mapping aqueous fluids, melts, and even rock deformation in the Earth’s interior. In particular, the electrical response of different areas located in the upper mantle can reflect fluid transport from a slab in subduction zones, the magmatic plumbing system of a volcanic edifice, and the direction of shear in high-deformation contexts. The knowledge coming from electrical investigations contributes significantly to our understanding of the structure and dynamics of the planet’s interior. I will describe the physical and chemical origins and experimental constraints on the peculiar features observed electrically of the Earth’s upper mantle, including anomalously high conductive areas and electrically anisotropic regions that have been observed in different tectonic contexts (e.g., subduction zones, mid-ocean ridges). Implications of these electrical results for geochemical (volatiles) cycles in the Earth will be presented. I will also discuss current limits of our abilities to untangle the signatures of melt from water in the transport processes.