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. We concentrate 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 have concentrated 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.