Elements Covers

Posts by Ian Parsons

Nooks and Crannies — Mountains and Clouds

I must explain the extension to my title. I wrote a Parting Shot with the title ‘Nooks and Crannies’ for Elements, 8 (2), 2012, in an issue on ‘Minerals, Microbes and Remediation’, devoted to nooks and crannies on weathered alkali feldspar surfaces. For international readers, I explained that (according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary) a ‘nook’ is ‘a corner or recess; a secluded place’ and a ‘cranny’ is ‘a chink, a crevice, a crack’. The reactivity of complex mineral surfaces is a complicating factor in ‘reactive transport’, particularly near Earth’s surface. The present issue provides me with an opportunity to dust-off a few old micrographs, images of considerable beauty in themselves, to remind readers that minerals are not just chemical compounds. It also allows me to introduce an intriguing discovery of the last five years. Some, but not all, feldspars are extremely effective at nucleating ice in clouds, and this may be related to nooks and crannies, not just to chemistry.

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Peace and War

At the end of July, I had a very special holiday, with some of my family, in Orkney, the cluster of small, wind-swept islands (Fig. 1) that stand bravely between the Atlantic and the North Sea off the extreme north-east corner of Scotland. I had always wanted to visit Orkney because my great-grandmother, Isabella Allan, was born on the tiny island of Stronsay in 1843. By any standards, these islands have an extraordinary human history, stretching from Neolithic times, some 5,000 years ago to the two great wars of the 20th century.

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Global Geoparks

My fans may have noticed that Parting Shots has been missing from the last couple of issues. I asked Jodi Rosso, for a break so that I could concentrate on developing content for a new geological visitor centre for Lochaber Geopark, a local voluntary organization for which I work, based in Fort William in the West Highlands of Scotland. Jodi suggested that readers might be interested in knowing more about the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network (GGN) and what is involved in creating visitor centres and informative material for the general public.

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In the Zone

The New Year of 2016 opened with a great flurry of activity on the Mineralogical Society of America’s on-line discussion board ‘MSA-talk’ about the teaching of crystallography. More members rushed to their keyboards to contribute on this topic than on any I can remember. I confess I didn’t read all the contributions, but I think a reasonable one-line summary would be ‘find a method that works for you and stick to it’.

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Adventure, M’boy, Adventure!

Download Article (PDF) December 2015 Issue Table of Contents Thematic ArticlesEditorialFrom the EditorsPerspectiveMeet the AuthorsBook ReviewParting ShotsPeople In The NewsSociety News Reputedly, when the great British geologist Sir Edward Bailey (1881–1965) was about to retire, his assistant asked him, ‘What will you do now, sir?’ Bailey replied ‘Adventure, m’boy, adventure!’ Many readers will have chosen…

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