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Posts by Nancy L. Ross

Celebration of the Periodic Table

The periodic table of chemical elements is one of the most significant achievements in science because it arranges the 118 known elements in a deceptively simple pattern that reveals their properties. So how did this “Rosetta Stone of Nature” originate?

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v15n1 From the Editors

With the start of 2019, John M. Eiler joins the Elements editorial team. He is taking on the role as our geochemistry principal editor.
There are so many more topics to feature in Elements. In March 2019, the editorial team will meet to evaluate proposals for inclusion in our lineup. We invite you to contact one of the Elements editors and submit a thematic proposal for consideration!

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Mineralogical Revelations From Space Odysseys

Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917–2008), perhaps best known for the 1968 book and film 2001: A Space Odyssey, once stated that “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” As you enjoy this issue of Elements on planet Mercury, think about the remarkable achievement of sending a spacecraft to Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun.

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The “Plasticene” Epoch?

This issue of Elements explores the fascinating realm of deep-ocean deposits that have the potential to provide society with many of the raw mineral resources required to meet the world’s growing needs. While raw materials have always, and always will, play a critical role in meeting these demands, materials made by humans have also become increasingly important, expanding in concert along with the world’s population, industry, and resource use. Most notably, plastics, which are synthetic organic polymers derived from fossil hydrocarbons, have become an indispensable part of our material world because of their remarkable number of uses and versatility. Plastic bottles, bags, credit cards, scotch tape, pipes, toys, to name a few, form part of our everyday life. Not surprisingly, the global production of plastic has increased from 2 metric tons (Mt) in 1950 to 380 Mt in 2015 (Geyer et al. 2017). By 2050, Geyer et al. (2017) estimate that roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in the natural environment. This is a staggering amount, enough to cover the entire surface of the Earth in a thin layer of plastic! With the growing abundance of plastic, the potential for preservation in the rock record increases. What impact will synthetic materials like plastic have on future deposits in the Earth – will there be a “Plasticene Epoch”?

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