Beam-line science to take us on a virtual journey to the center of the Earth

Nov 22, 2011

A new agreement between Macquarie University and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), will help us better understand everything from where earthquakes might occur to where gold is deposited.

The partnership provides joint funding for a senior-level research appointment in the University's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. This arrangement is the first of its kind between the University and ANSTO.

The successful appointee will help lead work to replicate environments 400 kilometres beneath earth's surface: specifically a layer called the , which is the source of most magma or beneath the surface.

The study of the physical and chemical processes at these depths will provide a better understanding of the earth, including how mineral deposits are formed.

And by providing a fuller working model of the processes that occur in the earth's interior, scientists hope to better understand how to predict and anticipate geologic events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Along with the appointment is building of the first multi-anvil experimental facility on the Australian Synchrotron: delivering the first high pressure synchrotron facility for geoscience research. Each anvil is effectively a hydraulic ram.

(This new equipment and research facility will be funded by Macquarie University and an Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grant.)

The new researcher will use both the Melbourne-based synchrotron and the Sydney-based OPAL research reactor. To this point, high-pressure research has been conducted primarily in the US and Japan, so this is an Australian first.

"We are pleased to announce this joint venture which will take advantage of unique Australian infrastructure and forms part of the increasing momentum within the earth science community to use such facilities," said Professor Jim Piper, the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

"The multi-anvil research facility will enable real time, high pressure, high temperature experiments on deep earth materials. The experiments will inform models for the chemical and physical evolution of the and other planets," he said.

Dr Rob Robinson is the Head of ANSTO's Bragg Institute, which leads Australia in the use of neutron scattering and x-ray techniques to solve complex research and industrial problems.

"This project is a great example of how ANSTO can collaborate with both the university sector and the Australian Synchrotron to deliver research that benefits science and the community in general," Dr Robinson said.

"There could be numerous exciting applications for this science, both now and as it is further developed.

"In the future, ANSTO will also look to develop a sister high-pressure facility on our campus, which would run on the OPAL Reactor's neutron beam lines and investigate the behaviour of light elements in these systems."

Head of Science at the Australian Synchrotron, Professor Andrew Peel, also welcomed the announcement saying it places Australian scientists at the forefront of geoscience research.

Explore further: Experiments open window on landscape formation

Related Stories

Big science future for Australia

Jul 13, 2010

Australia could soon benefit from highly sensitive coloured x-ray imaging and powerful new tools to reveal the structure of materials in unprecedented detail and provide major advances in medicine and technology.

Scientists develop new high pressure experiment station

Nov 23, 2007

A group of Imperial chemists headed by Professor John Seddon are developing a new piece of equipment to carry out experiments at extremely high-pressures at Diamond Light Source, the UK's new national synchrotron ...

New venture explores frontiers of personalized medicine

Oct 26, 2010

Pharmaceuticals that seek out cancerous cells and deliver treatments to them; imaging techniques that can help doctors detect diseases before the physical signs begin to appear; and medicines that are tailor-made for individual ...

New volume chronicles recent insights into Earth's interior

Oct 03, 2007

A new volume published by the Geological Society of America focuses on techniques that have opened new windows of observation into Earth processes. Advances in High-Pressure Mineralogy highlights recent technical developments ...

Synchrotron could help save the Tassie devil

Aug 01, 2007

Dr Church says he will use the synchotron to see if the disease causes any biochemical changes in the devils which could be detected in their hair before the disease becomes apparent.

Recommended for you

Experiments open window on landscape formation

13 hours ago

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate ...

NASA image: Canadian wildfires continue

13 hours ago

Canada is reeling from an early fire season this year as dozens of fires ravage at least three provinces of the country. All of the following reports are as of July 2, 2015.

The very hungry sea anemone

14 hours ago

The surprising culinary preferences of an abyssal sea anemone have been unveiled by a team of scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

How Virginia is preparing for the next quake

19 hours ago

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the commonwealth in 2011 was a wake-up call for many Virginians. Originating deep under Louisa County, the quake was felt as far north as Canada and caused significant ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.