From the Editors

v18n6 From the Editors

By Richard Harrison, Becky Lange, Janne Blichert-Toft, and Esther Posner | December, 2022


Io is the best place to understand a fundamental process that shaped terrestrial planets, icy ocean worlds, and extrasolar planets: tidal heating. Caught in orbital resonance with other Jupiter moons (Europa and Ganymede), Io is the most tidally heated world and may contain the only extant magma ocean in our Solar System. The spectacular volcanic plumes sustain the atmo­sphere and feed the magnetosphere of the Jovian system. The hot lavas on its surface reflect heat­ pipe tectonics, which is analogous to the volcani­cally hyperactive youth of all rocky planets. Io is the ideal planet­scale laboratory to study the intertwined processes of tidal forcing, extreme volcanism, and atmospheremagnetosphere inter­ actions. Investigating Io is necessary to understand ocean worlds, tidally­heated exoplanets, and the early terrestrial planets, including how they evolve chemically.

This issue of Elements reviews our knowledge of Io, including discoveries from telescopic obser­ vations, past missions, as well as perspectives for future missions. Six chapters cover interior dynamics and surface processes, with insights from field and laboratory studies in volcanology, petrology, geochem­istry, and geophysics.

v18n5 From the Editors

By Richard Harrison, Becky Lange, Janne Blichert-Toft, Martha Evonuk, and Esther Posner | October, 2022


Cement and concrete are essential commodities for a steadily growing and urbanizing world population. Availability, affordability, versatility, and durability have made cement and concrete the second most used material by mankind, behind water. However, their production leaves a large environmental footprint in terms of CO2 emissions (about 8% of all anthropogenic emissions are associated with the production of cement) as well as depletion of mineral and water resources. Making cement and concrete more sustainable and resilient represents a formidable societal challenge that mineralogists and geochemists can help resolve.

This issue looks back into the history of cementitious materials from antiquity to the Portland cements used today. Alternatives to Portland cement are explored and options for sustainable sourcing of raw materials are discussed in local and even extraterrestrial contexts. Moreover, this issue highlights how mineralogy, geochemistry, and petrography can be applied to assess resources, characterize and develop a new generation of cement and concrete, and understand how basic physical and chemical processes occurring at the microscale affect macroscopic material properties.

v18n4 From the Editors

By Richard Harrison, Becky Lange, Janne Blichert-Toft, Esther Posner, and Jodi Rosso | August, 2022


Subduction zones—some of the most active geological regions on Earth—are also home to dynamic landscapes and destructive geological events. The Cascadia subduction zone (also known as Cascadia) runs along much of the western margin of North America and occupies an influential place in the global pantheon of subduction zones. Cascadia is known as the quint­ essential “hot and dry” endmember of subduction zones produced by the subduction of relatively young oceanic crust, and studies of Cascadia have enriched our global understanding of subduction, continent assembly, and many related geodynamic processes.

In addition, the link between tectonic processes and geological hazards is made crystal clear via a raft of well­recognized volcanic, earthquake, tsunami, and other geologic hazards, emphasized by high­-profile events such as the eruptions of Mount St. Helens, as well as an uneasy anticipa­tion of future great earthquakes and tsunamis.

This issue of Elements takes a detailed look at the Cascadia subduction zone—not only from the perspective of the geological and geophysical processes that have produced this canonical continental subduction system but also consid­ering the impact of active subduction processes and landscapes on the people and societies who have long inhabited the region.

v18n3 From the Editors

By Richard Harrison, Becky Lange, Janne Blichert-Toft, Esther Posner, and Jodi Rosso | June, 2022


At first glance, the presence of water may appear as a very earthy characteristic. However, observations of the Universe and Solar System have revealed a very different reality where water molecules are omnipresent in liquid, gaseous, or solid form. From cold molecular clouds to magma oceans and the young Solar System, water is a major constituent and player in astrophysical and geo­ logical processes. Within our Solar System, water has been found to occur and react in asteroidal, lunar, and planetary environments. In fact, most water molecules have borne witness to the Solar System’s formation and evolution over the past 4.5 billion years.

This issue of Elements details the diversity of environments and processes where water is present and involved, offering a journey through space and time seen through the spec­ trum of this fundamental molecule.

v18n2 From the Editors

By Richard Harrison, Becky Lange, Janne Blichert-Toft, Esther Posner, and Jodi Rosso | April, 2022


Life on Earth produces innumerable structurally diverse biomolecules that are ubiquitous in the environment. Such organic compounds are diagnostic indicators of biotic and abiotic processes in water, soils, sedi­ments, sedimentary rocks, petroleum systems, and mineral deposits.

In this thematic issue, the authors introduce applications of biomarkers to study fundamental biogeochemical processes and the utilization of organic molecules and their compound­specific isotope signatures as proxies for paleoenvironmental and climate reconstructions. Organic geochemists also search for molecular signatures to study life evolution and early Earth history, life in extreme environments such as hydro­ thermal systems and the deep­crustal biosphere, and to detect extrater­restrial life forms on other planets.

v18n1 From the Editors

By , , , and | February, 2022

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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v17n6 From the Editors

By , , and | December, 2021

There are many individuals and organizations who we want to recognize for their participation in and support of Elements in 2021.

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v17n5 From the Editors

By , , and | October, 2021

Elements is published through the collaboration of 18 participating scientific societies. The Elements editorial team is responsible for the content and the day-to-day management of the magazine. The Elements Executive Committee is responsible for the management of the magazine through financial oversight, approval of editorial appointments, and facilitating a close working relationship between the editorial team and the participating societies.

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v17n4 From the Editors

By , , and | August, 2021

For centuries, philosophers and scientists had proposed the existence of planets outside of our own Solar System. Yet, it wasn’t until late 20th century that scientists first confirmed the existence of exoplanets. How does one study planets that are thousands of light years away from Earth? Exoplanet studies are not purely within the domain of astrophysicists. As you will discover in the articles of this issue, exoplanet research requires an interdisciplinary approach.

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v17n3 From the Editors

By , , and | June, 2021

In just about every physical science course the concept of the atom is taught. Students are introduced to the three subatomic particles of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Usually, there is a lot of emphasis on electrons, because their configuration determines the chemical properties of an atom. And the protons get a lot of attention as well: who doesn’t like H+? Sadly, too often, neutrons are left in the “Oh, there is another part of an atom” category … that neutral subatomic particle that adds weight to the atom.

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v17n2 From the Editors

By , , and | April, 2021

Science is a breeding ground for jargon. Jargon is useful and elegant for the specialist but often a conundrum for the nonspecialist. As you read the articles of this issue of Elements, you will likely encounter some of this rich terminology, including the evocative terms “snottite” and “moonmilk”. But, thankfully, the editors and authors have made considerable effort to translate much of this cave science jargon so that we, too, can enjoy the wonderful world of speleothems.

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v17n1 From the Editors

By , , and | February, 2021

This issue on the European Alps is the third geographic region showcased in Elements. If you are interested in reading about other geographic regions, we encourage you to check out the Elements issues on the Central Andes (August 2018) and the South Aegean Volcanic Arc (June 2019).

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v16n6 From the Editors

By , , and | December, 2020

As part of every years’ final “From the Editors”, we like to thank the many people who have contributed to Elements over the course of the previous year. But before we do so, we want to acknowledge that 2020 was a year unlike any other in the history of Elements. The global pandemic impacted all of us in profound and, for many, sometimes tragic ways. The challenges that our readers, editors, authors, participating societies, and advertisers faced in 2020 makes it even more meaningful to thank our contributors. We greatly appreciate all your efforts!

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v16n5 From the Editors

By , , and | October, 2020

Marissa Tremblay, Emily Cooperdock, and Peter Zeitler, guest editors of this issue of Elements, introduce us to another application of noble gases: thermochronology. In addition to editing the six thematic articles on the utility of noble gas thermochronology to fundamental geological questions (e.g., What are the rates of exhumation? How does a fault zone evolve?), these guest editors also wrote this issue’s Toolkit, which introduces the different methods used to extract, isolate, and measure the concentration of noble gases (and their isotopes) derived from natural materials. We hope you enjoy reading about this fascinating topic!

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v16n4 From the Editors

By , , and | August, 2020

Elements magazine has published many topical issues for which the focus has been on an individual element (see graphic). Some elements were featured as a group, such as the platinum group elements (v4n4) or the rare earth elements (v8n5). Others were featured as allotropes, as happened for carbon as diamond (v1n2) or carbon as graphite (v10n6). Yet others were featured in the context of an overview of the many roles that an element plays in natural systems. The current issue, “Lithium: Less is More” (v16n4), falls under this latter category.

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