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Editorials

Does Earth Still Offer Discoveries?

By | April, 2019

Imagine a geoscientist who begins his career as a mine surveyor but who quickly realizes that this was too small a field for him. So, he decides to take field trips, which last many years, to remote parts of the Earth. What our geoscientist discovers includes nothing less than the interactions between topography and climate, the alignment of volcanoes along zones of earthquake activity and at great depth, and three-quarters of all known plant species. Returning home, our geoscientist does not rest. Instead, he lets the world know of his spectacular discoveries. He becomes a prolific writer who publishes an immense number of articles and books, all the while discussing the implications of his findings in a dozen or more detailed letters a day with colleagues around the world.

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Mineralogical Revelations From Space Odysseys

By | February, 2019

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 Irony of Iron — Life’s Major Trace Element

By | December, 2018

All organisms, from lowly microbes to higher forms of life (including humans), need iron. Yet there is irony to iron. Despite being the second most abundant element in the Earth, it is not readily available for consumption. Earth owes this irony to the combined effects of geodynamics and biology. The early segregation of iron into the Earth’s core relegated iron to “only” the fourth most abundant element in the crust. About 2.3 billion years ago, a complex interplay between photosynthesis and redox changes in Earth’s mantle allowed the buildup of free atmospheric oxygen. Today, there is a sufficient supply of photosynthetic oxygen to convert all iron at the Earth’s surface and in its surface waters, including seawater, into its ferric [Fe(III)] form. This ferric form is barely soluble, making it hard to access by organisms. Ironically, life itself made iron a ‘trace element’.

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Archived Editorials (PDF)

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2015 Issues

February 2015

Gordon Brown

"HAS LIFE EVER EXISTED ON MARS?"

April 2015

John Valley

"TIME’S ARROW AND TIME’S CYCLE"

June 2015

Patricia Dove

"GROWING PAINS IN THE ERA OF BIG DATA"

August 2015

Gordon Brown

"BOUNTIES FROM THE EARTH"

October 2015

Bernard Wood

"RESOURCES AND WAR"

 

2014 Issues

February 2014

John Valley

"ASTEROID WHAT?"

April 2014

John Valley

"PLAYTHINGS VERSUS THE KILLER ROCK?"

June 2014

Gordon Brown

"KAOLINS: NANOMINERALS WITH A PROUD HERITAGE"

August 2014

Patricia Dove

"NATURAL GAS IN THE EMERGING GLOBAL ENERGY LANDSCAPE"

October 2014

Patricia Dove

"WRESTLING WITH REPRODUCIBILITY IN RESEARCH"

December 2014

Georges Calas

"A BIG FAMILY"

2013 Issues

February 2013

John W. Valley

"THE AGE OF THE EARTH"

April 2013

Georges Calas

"VERSATILE SERPENTINE"

June 2013

Patricia M. Dove

"TWIST AND SHOUT"

August 2013

John W. Valley

"JOURNEY TOWARDS THE CENTER OF THE EARTH"

October 2013

James (Tim) I. Drever

"SOME PARTING THOUGHTS"

December 2013

Georges Calas

"LINKS AND LINKS"

2012 Issues

February 2012

Harry (Hap) Y. McSween

"LIVING IN THE FAST LANE"

April 2012

James (Tim) I. Drever

"DECISIONS, DECISIONS"

June 2012

Georges Calas

"BREAKING BOUNDARIES"

August 2012

John W. Valley

"MIGMA VERSUS MAGMA"

October 2012

Georges Calas

"TALES, TALES..."

December 2012

James (Tim) I. Drever

"POLLUTION AND PRESERVATION"

2011 Issues

February 2011

Harry (Hap) Y. McSween

"TO BE EXPLORERS"

April 2011

David J. Vaughan

"THE MASTERY OF IRON"

June 2011

James (Tim) I. Drever

"WATER RESOURCES -- SCIENCE AND VALUES"

August 2011

Harry (Hap) Y. McSween

"IS SCIENCE A CONTACT SPORT?"

October 2011

Georges Calas

"TOURMALINE RESEARCH: UNLOCKING ALI BABA'S CAVE"

December 2011

James (Tim) I. Drever

"PREDICTION IS HARD -- PARTICULARLY ABOUT THE FUTURE"

2010 Issues

February 2010

David J. Vaughan

"EVOLUTION AND EXTINCTION"

April 2010

Harry (Hap) Y. McSween

"HELL ON EARTH"

June 2010

Susan L.S. Stipp

"STRATEGIC OR BLUE SKY RESEARCH?"

August 2010

David J. Vaughan

"SOMETHING IN THE AIR"

October 2010

Harry (Hap) Y. McSween

"THANKS, DR. GIBBS"

December 2010

James (Tim) I. Drever

"WE'VE COME A LONG WAY"

2009 Issues

February 2009

E. Bruce Watson

"THE ECONOMY AND THE MOON"

April 2009

Susan L.S. Stipp

"WHO SHOULD DECIDE HOW RESEARCH FUNDING IS SPENT?"

June 2009

David J. Vaughan

"GEMS, RICHES, WEALTH AND FINANCE"

August 2009

David J. Vaughan

"MAGNETISM AND MESMERISM"

October 2009

Harry (Hap) Y. McSween

"ALL THAT GLITTERS..."

December 2009

Susan L.S. Stipp

"THE DA VINCI PROFILE -- BREADTH AND DEPTH"

2008 Issues

February 2008

Ian Parsons

"HOW ARE WE DOING?"

April 2008

Susan L.S. Stipp

"DEPLETING RESOURCES, ETHICS AND INNOVATION"

June 2008

E. Bruce Watson

"SCIENTIFIC FRONTIERS AND RISKY VERSUS SAFE SCIENCE"

August 2008

E. Bruce Watson

"QUIET REVOLUTION IN THE GEOCHEMICAL SCIENCES"

October 2008

Susan S. L. Stipp

"THE CO2 CHALLENGE -- A CALL TO ACTION"

December 2008

David J. Vaughan

"GREAT SCIENCE OR GREY GOO?

2007 Issues

February 2007

Ian Parsons

"NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T"

April 2007

Michael F. Hochella, Jr.

"TEACHING, EXPLAINED"

June 2007

Ian Parsons

"SCIENCE AND THE POLICYMAKERS"

August 2007

E. Bruce Watson

"RISKING THE FUTURE OF GEOSCIENCE"

October 2007

Susan L.S. Stipp

"FAIRNESS IN EVALUATION: MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL"

December 2007

E. Bruce Watson

"GEOSCIENCE CIRRICULA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY"

2006 Issues

February 2006

Michael F. Hochella, Jr.

"THE POLITICAL MISUSE OF SCIENCE"

April 2006

Michael F. Hochella, Jr.

"SO YOU WANT TO FORM AN INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAM"...GOOD LUCK!"

June 2006

Rodney C. Ewing

"TWO PLANETS -- WHICH FUTURE?"

August 2006

Ian Parsons

"VESTIGES AND PROSPECTS"

October 2006

E. Bruce Watson

"ADVISING FUTURE SCIENTISTS"

December 2006

E. Bruce Watson

"GEOSCIENCE ESSENTIALS OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT"

2005 Issues

January 2005

Rodney C. Ewing, Michael F. Hochella Jr., Ian Parsons, and Pierrette Tremblay

"ELEMENTS: BUILDING A NEW BRIDGE"

March 2005

Ian Parsons

"ELEMENTS: GETTING INTO THE SWING"

June 2005

Michael F. Hochella, Jr.

"JUMPING ACROSS THE COLORADO"

September 2005

Michael F. Hochella, Jr.

"THE COST OF SCIENCE"

December 2005

Ian Parsons

"FORMATIVE EVENTS"

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