Mineralogy and Clay Mineralogy

Rock and mineral analysis, volcanology

Mineralogy is integral to the geological and environmental sciences and it interfaces with essentially every discipline in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Mineralogy at IU includes research on pure and applied clay mineralogy, the mineralogy of natural zeolites, and planetary mineralogy, along with research contributions to our hydrology, biogeochemistry, geochemistry, and petrology research efforts. Mineralogy at IU concentrates on the chemical and crystal structural details of minerals, how minerals form and are affected by their environment, and on potential useful properties of minerals. Our laboratories are well suited for experimental studies of the behavior of minerals under controlled temperature and atmosphere conditions, from temperatures as low as 77° K to 723° K, and under conditions of computer-controlled relative humidity. Some of our recent experiments haveconcentrated on simulating atmospheric conditions on the surface of Mars. We also have facilities for evaluating the thermodynamics of water in minerals. Our clay mineralogy laboratory is well equipped to prepare and separate any clay-bearing samples.

Planetary mineralogy has emerged in the past ten years as an exciting area of geological studies, and IU is actively involved in a variety of areas of planetary geology and mineralogy. As part of a team led by David Blake at NASA JPL, we developed "CheMin," a miniaturized X-ray diffraction/X-ray fluorescence instrument. CheMin is now on board the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity. Our laboratory studies of possible Martian surface minerals have been quite successful, and our studies have shown that water-bearing minerals such as clays and zeolites can exist on the surface of Mars in a hydrated state. These studies are integral to understanding where water is on the Martian surface.

Our state-of-the-art instrumentation includes X-ray diffraction, Scanning Electron Microscopy, and Thermal Analysis Laboratories. Read about current graduate students and post-docs and their research projects, and about recent graduates and the titles of their theses.

Students interested in mineralogical research of any kind, particularly clay and zeolite mineralogy, may apply for M.S. and Ph.D. programs. Graduate student opportunities are often available in research projects that provide student fee remission and research assistantships. In addition, the Grassmann Fellowship is periodically available for exceptional students working towards their Ph.D. degree. Post-doctoral positions are also often available. Please contact any of the listed faculty for more information.

Research Areas

Note: Please contact individual faculty about potential graduate student support.

Clay Mineralogy

Contact: David Bish

High-speed refrigerated centrifuge, high- and low-shear rheometers, BET surface area analyzer, Sedigraph particle size analyzer, brightness analyzer

Mineralogy of the Martian surface

Contact: David Bish, Juergen Schieber

Thermal analysis laboratory, scanning electron microscope lab, CheMin

X-ray powder diffraction under non-ambient conditions, Rietveld refinement

Contact: David Bish

Bruker X-ray diffractometers, Anton-Parr TTK heating/cooling stages

Coal and Maceral Petrography, Chemistry and Isotope Geochemistry

Contact: Maria Mastalerz

Coal petrography lab with reflected light microscopes equipped with photometry systems and fluorescence attachments; standard photographic camera and digital camera with image analysis software

Lunar and Planetary Mineralogy

Contact: Abhijit Basu

Scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy

Mineralogy of saline-alkaline lakes, zeolite mineralogy

Contact: Edward Ripley, David Bish

Metamorphic mineralogy, fabric and orientation analysis

Contact: Chusi Li

Bruker X-ray diffractometers, Scanning electron microscope, electron microprobe

Minerals, Ore Deposits, and Applicable Isotopes

Contact: Edward Ripley, Erika Elswick, Chusi Li