Tectonic Petrameter

Geologists study the Earth to learn our planet’s natural history. But the reason behind the planet’s birth still remains a mystery. Won’t you join me on a very special journey through geologic time? Four billion, six hundred million years have passed so please don’t mind me if I move somewhat fast through the story. Rocks are the geologist’s inventory of information. They give us clues to their formation. Ever since its creation, the Earth has been dynamic and constantly changing. All of our panoramic views are always rearranging themselves ever so slowly over time. The oldest slice of time is called the Precambrian which is broken into three, beginning with Hadean, and as you can see, our Earth is thought to have been covered by a sea of magma! Could you have handled it? A bombardment of meteorites also hit and continue to hit our planet.

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Radioiodine Contamination Caused

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami happened on 11 March 2011, which caused the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident. The accident resulted in a substantial release of radio-nuclides, including 131I, 134Cs, and 137Cs, into the atmosphere, causing significant environmental contamination. This was a particular issue in many parts of eastern Japan, especially in the Fukushima Prefecture (Yoshida and Takahashi 2012). Among the above-mentioned radioactive isotopes, 131I is one of the most critical radionuclides to be monitored after an accidental reactor release due to its tendency to accumulate in the human thyroid gland.

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v18n1 From the Editors

In this issue, we follow the halogen group elements (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine) from the Earth’s interior to surface—and even beyond! In a similar vein to two previous Elements issues that also explored groups of elements united by common properties (Rare Earth Elements; October 2012 and Platinum Group Elements; August 2008), this issue similarly showcases the wide diversity of research that is encompassed by halogen mineralogy and geochemistry. Over the last several decades, the halogens have increasingly come into the spotlight, possibly due to improving methods for measuring ultra-low abundance bromine and iodine in geologic materials, as well as isotopes of chlorine and bromine. The result of this increased enthusiasm for halogens is deftly covered over six articles by this issue’s authors—from halogens in Earth and planetary systems to experimental petrology and analytical developments, there truly is something for everyone.

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Beware the Bromides

With respect to Br, I was not meaningfully introduced to the term “bromide” until I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. Not in chemistry lab, but rather in a Comparative Literature course. The term “bromide!” was scrawled in red, repeatedly, all over my essay on Moby Dick. Apparently, my deep, philosophical musings on Ahab’s obsessive quest were found to be “trite and unoriginal”. Oh dear! A wellearned, if stinging, instruction on how Br-bearing sedatives (no longer available due to their toxicity) entered the English lexicon to refer to boring and meaningless expressions, in large part due to Gelett Burgess’ 1906 essay, Are You a Bromide?

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Shine On You Crazy Diamonds

Despite many of us working in institutions that are signatories to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)—which promotes the idea that it is what you publish, not where you publish that really counts—how many of us still succumb to the reflex reaction of considering submitting to Science or Nature the moment we get an exciting result we think may be deemed “worthy” of a “glamour journal”? As long as we (myself included) continue to attach value to publishing in certain places, and we continue to use where something is published as proxy of its scientific merit, then we will continue to get the publishing system we deserve.

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Remembrance of Carbonatites Past

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘vector’ as a quantity having direction as well as magnitude, and ‘scalar’ as a quantity having only magnitude, not direction. Much geological research starts with fieldwork, manifestly a vector activity. In Figure 1A, the geologists are exploring the intersection of a complex, 3-D body, the layered Klokken syenite, a 4 × 3 km igneous intrusion in the Gardar alkaline province of SW Greenland, with a mountainous 3-D land-surface. I described the unusual layering in Elements v10n1 (Parsons 2014). The igneous rocks were emplaced 1,166.3 ± 1.2 million years ago, and the 650 m of 3-D topography, which reveals the inner workings of the magma chamber, was carved by the advance and retreat of the mighty Greenland ice sheet in the last few thousand years. Only the age (a U–Pb age from baddelyite, ZrO2) is a scalar quantity.

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Ending 30 Years of Hurt: The Winchcombe Meteorite Fall

Meteorite hunting is a lot like football (soccer) … just run with us on this. Success requires skill, a cracking team, a whole lot of luck … and, historically, England (and the UK) are not very good at it … we were just unlucky … the (fire)ball always seems to miss the goal! Meanwhile, around the world, meteorite fall recoveries are becoming more and more frequent; but in the UK, to put it in the style of the famous English football anthem by the band the Lightning Seeds, it’s been “30 years of hurt” since our last meteorite fall.

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Evolution and Involution of Carbonatite Thoughts

During my doctoral studies, in the late 1980s, I realised that the Italian kamafugites (kalsilite melilitites) had to be related to carbonatite magmatism. I started a detailed study of the kamafugitic sites, and I explored remote areas deep in Italy’s Apennine mountains. When I found the Polino carbonatite, I put a few drops of acid on it, and the rock reacted. I have a vivid memory of my heart beating faster. I had found it! My fellow geologists were somewhat sceptical, but the late Professor Giorgio Marinelli (1922–1993) encouraged me and predicted many new carbonatite discoveries. He was right. Overcoming my Latin temperament, I focused on the concept that carbonatites, however unusual as rocks, cannot be dismissed as simple geological oddities but require detailed and comprehensive study. I am fond of all the history that marked my latest 40 years of life, and it reminds me of the many friends and mentors that I have had, especially when I was a young researcher. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us. I am so grateful to them, and I consider it a life-changing experience to have met them.

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