Update - 14/02/2017

February 14, 2017

Update since last blog:


  • My abstract has been accepted for the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March 20th-24th in the Woodlands, Texas. The abstract title is "Variations in Petrography of Basaltic Lava Flows with Similar Surface Roughness" Poster presentation is on the Thursday night (23rd) starting at 6pm in poster session II: Environmental Analogs: Volcanic/Igneous Terrains.

  • I have sent a letter to ANSMET about potentially joining the team on their next expedition to the Antarctic to hunt for meteorites.

  • Idaho State University is sending Craters of the Moon samples for petrographic analysis. The samples will be prepared here by myself and analyzed by me afterwards. The results will be shared with Idaho State. Special thanks to Dr Shannon Kobs Nawotniak and Dr Scott Hughes.

  • I am currently writing an abstract for GAC-MAC 2017 hosted at Kingston, Ontario. Abstract is an extension of my LPSC work with additional petrographic descriptions, XRF data and radar interpretations.

  • My application for the Leverhulme Trust Scholarship got shortlisted and I am now in the reference stage of the selection process (fingers crossed!).


Now for the research!


In order to understand the geochemical evolution of the COTM lava flows the plagioclase, olivine and pyroxene crystals are to be analyzed. Currently only plagioclase has been analyzed in the samples. I will be returning to the microscope to further describe the olivine and pyroxene minerals before placing the sections back through the electron micro-probe.

If Devil's Orchard and Serrate flow show zonation, then I might expect the olivine's and pyroxene's in the samples to show some zonation. If not then differentiation was only influencing the plagioclase minerals.


The quenched micro-crystalline textures in the samples are to be investigated further. No readings have been found to describe them in detail, only journals focusing on quenched textures found in basaltic Hawaiian lava flows. They are from a different tectonic and volcanic setting than COTM but the journals could still enlighten myself on how these structures can vary and why certain minerals have grown in particular ways.

 The nucleation and growth rate of the crystals will influence how these structures develop, however all of the lava flow samples are aphanitic as a hand specimen implying they all cooled rapidly. The textures under optical microscopy will narrow the cooling rates of these samples.



XRD research project. I have a couple of ideas for my XRD research project for my Advanced Mineralogy and Crystallography course but I'm having trouble deciding which offers the best end result or could provide the more interesting project?


  • The blue impurity on the surface of the Blue Dragon lava flow (image below). In situ XRD and micro-XRD on a powdered sample could determine the phases of the ulvospinel which are causing this colour


  • Rietveld refinement of Devil's Orchard and North Highway flow. Both have similar geochemistry and petrography but their surface roughness and morphology is completely different. North Highway flow is younger but both show similar geochemical differentiation paths. This test could reveal phases in mineralogy which might explain their surface roughness and morphological differences. Images below show North Highway (left) and Devil's Orchard (right).






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