Triple Point

Burke’s Law: Toward a Reasoned Discussion of Deep Time

By T. Mark Harrison and Adrian Lenardic | October, 2022


Physical scientists generally believe we can never prove something to be true, but only falsify hypothetical propositions. In a data-rich environment, we would ideally specify null and alternative hypotheses and test the statistical significance of both. But those studying deep geologic time are limited by a profoundly incomplete rock record that itself may reflect significant preservation biases. Popper (1945) argued that “while the theoretical sciences are mainly interested in finding and testing universal laws, the historical sciences take all kinds of universal laws for granted and are mainly interested in finding and testing singular statements.” This is hardly a condemnation of historical geology; one does not study the Archean to prove quantum mechanics, but rather to constrain conceptual models based on physical laws assumed to be constant through time. Thus, testing concepts regarding ancient Earth requires different rules adapted to the paucity and type of evidence available.

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Reflecting on the Colonial Legacy of Geoscience in Africa

By and | October, 2021

Although carbonatites are now known worldwide, much of the early work to identify them was done in Africa, particularly around Oldoinyo Lengai (Tanzania) led by the late John Barry Dawson (1932–2013). Barry was a professor at the University of Edinburgh (UK) when one of us (KG) was there during the 1990s doing a PhD on alkaline igneous rocks and carbonatites; his interest and enthusiasm for the subject was infectious. Barry’s initial work on Oldoinyo Lengai, and his recognition of it as a carbonatite volcano, was done when he was a geologist for the Geological Survey of Tanganyika, around the time of Tanzanian independence. This was a time when colonial attitudes still strongly governed the way geological work was done in Africa, and the early papers on carbonatites abound with names of former colonies such as Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and South-West Africa.

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Diversity among Editorial Boards of Elements and other selected Geochemistry, Cosmochemistry, Mineralogy and Petrology journals

By , , , , , , , and | June, 2021

The publication of scientific work is foundational to our disciplines. To ensure equitable publication standards during the global flow of knowledge production, professional societies and publishers must take positive steps to avoid biases that might hinder the publication of scientific work (see Liévano-Latorre et al. 2020). Biases among editors and reviewers can be unconscious and be influenced by different aspects of an author’s identity: country of origin, first language, affiliation, gender identity, ethnicity, and/or other factors. These biases could result in challenges to publication rates and visibility in key journal forums for under-represented groups (Lerback et al. 2020). Ensuring that there is diversity in the peer review and publishing process, and on editorial boards, may help to eliminate bias.

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Sailing the Sea of Open Access: Celestial Navigation or Dead Reckoning?

By and | October, 2020

The notion of open access (OA) began to gain traction in the mid–late 1990s (Laakso et al. 2011). The Bethesda Statement (2003) followed a year later with the definition of ‘open access’ as: “free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit, and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.”

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Archived Triple Point (PDF)


2015 Issues -- Volume 11

April 2015

P. L. King, A. Edwards, and N. J. Abram

"Recognizing Biases That Affect Women Geoscientists in the Workplace"


2014 Issues -- Volume 10

October 2014

Kevin Murphy

"Of Politics, Science and Learned Societies"

2013 Issues -- Volume 9

June 2013

Art Montana

"Color Blind"

2012 Issues -- Volume 8

February 2012

Paul Schroeder

"Bold New Graphics and Mineralogy"

April 2012

Sarah Penniston-Dorland

"Patching the Leaky Faculty Pipeline"

June 2012

Allison Macfarlane

"Fukushima Lessons: Disconnect between Geology and Nuclear Engineering"

August 2012

Robert Bodnar and Bruce Yardley

"Selling our Science (But Not at All Costs)"

October 2012

Peter Heaney

"A Sabbatical Project"

2011 Issues -- Volume 7

February 2011

Bruce Yardley, Bastian Joachim, and Steeve Bonneville

"Planning Your Career -- A Work in Progress"

April 2011

Rodney Ewing

"Beyond Triage at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station"

June 2011

Bruce Yardley

"Whose Paper is it Anyway?"

October 2011

Bruce Yardley

"When Accessories are Essentials"

December 2011

Chen Zhu

"The Globalization of Chinese Science: A Threat or an Opportunity?"

2010 Issues -- Volume 6

February 2010

Bruce Yardley

"Do We Need More Applications of Geochemistry?"

April 2010

Marty Goldhaber

"Fostering Integrated Science"

June 2010

Bruce Yardley

"Is This Profound and Significant?"

August 2010

Clive Oppenheimer

"We Told You So! Reflections on the ‘Ashpocalypse’"

December 2010

Marty Goldhaber

"It's Not Just About Climate Change -- What About Soils?"

2009 Issues -- Volume 5

February 2009

Rod Ewing

"Lost in Translation"

April 2009

Sam Mukasa

"Underrepresentation of Women and Minority Awardees in Geoscience Societies"

June 2009

Mickey Gunter

"Asbestos Sans Mineralogy"

August 2009

Rod Ewing

"Is Geochemistry Important?"

October 2009

Gregory Meeker

"Asbestos Sans Mineralogy? A View From A Different Hilltop"

with Mickey Gunter's response

December 2009

Rod Ewing

"Elements' Fifth Anniversary"

2008 Issues -- Volume 4

February 2008

Rod Ewing

"The Future of Elements?"

April 2008

Rodney Ewing

"Will Next Year Be Better?"

June 2008

Roger A. Pielke Jr.

"Scientists and the Next President of the United States"

August 2008

Rodney C. Ewing

"Museums are not Attics"

October 2008

Timothy L. Killeen and Teofilo Abrajano

"Understanding the Triple Point"

December 2008

Rod Ewing

"Et Alii?

2007 Issues -- Volume 3

February 2007

Peter J. Heaney

"Mineralogy and The Composition of an American Science"

April 2007

Peter J. Heaney

"Caught in the Web of Virtual Education"

June 2007

Don L. Anderson

"Looking Glass Worlds"

August 2007

Peter J. Heaney

"What's Your h-Index?"

October 2007

Peter J. Heaney

"The Extinction of Geology"

2006 Issues -- Volume 2

February 2006

Margaret S. Leinen

"Future Directions in Geochemistry and Mineralogy: A View from the National Science Foundation"

April 2006

Peter J. Heaney

"Reflections on Bragg's Law"

June 2006

Sorena Sorensen

"Congratulations from the Common Reader"

August 2006

Dan Kile

"Polarized Light Microscopy in Geoscience Education: Relevant or Obsolete?"

October 2006

Peter J. Heaney

"Grace Under Pressure: A Challenge to the Modern Reviewer"

December 2006

Peter J. Heaney

"Sorry, Levi, But Thanks for the Memories: An Elegy for a Historic Mineral Collection"

2005 Issues -- Volume 1

January 2005

Peter Heaney

"Triple Point"

March 2005

Peter J. Heaney

"Science Societies and the Democratic Process"

June 2005

Peter J. Heaney

"Voices from our Past"

September 2005

Peter J. Heaney

"Searching for Diversity"

December 2005

Scott A. Wood and Mickey E. Gunter

"Making of Meeting of Minds: Reflections on the Organization of the 2005 Goldschmidt Conference