Two new articles from the staff of Mineral Sciences have recently been published. Glenn MacPherson was part of a collaborative effort (13 co-authors) to characterize the properties of icosahedite, a natural alloy that displays three-dimensional icosahedral symmetry. What makes this discovery so special is that it is the first and only known naturally occurring quasicrystal (a structure where the atoms are arranged in an orderly pattern, but never exactly repeat). This is contrary to minerals in general which have structures characterized by the orderly arrangement of atoms that do repeat. The quasicrystal was found within a piece of the Khatyrka meteorite and according to Glenn and his co-authors, present evidence that impact-induced shock occurred in the early solar system and created aluminum-copper alloys as natural products. The article describing this amazing material was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
An article authored by Ben Andrews appears in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research and provides a detailed examination of caldera formation from the 1902 eruption of the Santa Maria Volcano, Guatemala. Relying on the analysis of natural volcanic materials (pumice and rock phenocrysts) and the results of laboratory experiments, Ben was able to determine the depth and temperature of magma prior to eruption and the decompression rate of the magma and subsequent caldera collapse during eruption.
Andrews, B.J. (2014) Magmatic storage conditions, decompression rate, and incipient caldera collapse of the 1902 eruption of the Santa Maria Volcano, Guatemala. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 282, 103-114.
Hollister, L. S., Bindi, L., Yao, N., Poirier, G. R., Andronicos, C. L., MacPherson, G. J., Lin, C., Distler, V.V., Eddy, M.P., Kostin, A., Kryachko, V., Steinhardt, W.M., Yudovskaya, M., Eiler, J.M., Guan, Y., Clarke, J.J. & Steinhardt, P.J. (2014). Impact-induced shock and the formation of natural quasicrystals in the early solar system. Nature communications, 5, 1–8, doi:10.1038/ncomms5040 (2014).