European Mineral Sciences Initiative (EuroMinScI)

Scientific scope of EuroMinScI

Major advances in the use of physics-based experimental techniques (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, synchrotron radiation, neutron scattering, phonon spectroscopy, laser-ablation based techniques, etc.) and atomistic computer simulation make it possible to study mineral properties and behaviour. At the same time, measurements of many minerals properties in situ at extreme conditions of temperature and pressure corresponding to those existing in the earth’s interior are now feasible (e.g., the recent, experimental and theoretical determination of the temperature at the inner core – outer core boundary and the study of the Earth’s core chemistry).

The EUROCORES Programme EuroMinScI draws together the experimental and computational activities, and the different experimental techniques, into integrated research projects. Sometimes it calls for separate ‘computer experiments’ while at other times computer simulation is needed even to interpret the experimental data uniquely. It also addresses the need for young researchers with an academic background in earth sciences to be trained more in the physics-based techniques, where the methods are very different from traditional earth sciences. A “bottom-up” approach is envisaged, in which participating scientists will propose their own research projects within the broad context of EuroMinScI Programme.

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Specific directions of research

The scientific content of the EuroMinScI Programme derives from the fact that the physical and chemical properties of the earth and terrestrial planets depend on the properties of their constituent minerals. Interactions between the lithosphere and the atmosphere, biosphere or hydrosphere occur across mineral surfaces. The chemistry of the crust/mantle/core depends on elements partitioning between minerals, and phenomena such as super-plasticity or super-elasticity in minerals could have a direct impact on larger scale geological processes, etc. The EuroMinScI Programme will therefore focus on the atomistic understanding of structures, properties and processes of minerals. Specific areas of research that can be supported include: Behaviour of minerals at high pressures and temperatures; Structures and properties of amorphous and disordered materials; Defects and microstructures; Transport mechanisms at the atomic length scale; Trace elements and isotope partitioning; Structure, properties and reactivities of mineral surfaces; Spectroscopy of minerals and the quantitative interpretation of spectra.

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