“We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers.” Carl Sagan
Research goal: How do habitable (Earth-like) worlds form and evolve?
My work is principally concerned with the conditions of formation and evolutionary path that have made Earth habitable, and leverages the broad field of igneous petrology as applied to planetary materials. As such my fundamental research is interdisciplinary and findings are of broad interest, as are the related thematic volumes and books that I contribute as an Editor and Author. Core research is complemented by a range of aligned and energising activities that help to build kind and cooperative scientific communities.
Main research themes:
The first theme, studying meteorites and materials returned from extraterrestrial bodies to understand planetary growth (including accretion histories, interior evolution that encompasses core formation, impacts, crustal production, and volcano-magmatic processes), has become my foremost area of passionate dedication. Included among which are fragments of asteroids, Mars, and the Moon. The latter two themes address magmatic processes and the deep interior properties of Earth because this information is important for comparison with data from meteorites and lunar materials, as well as critical for evaluations of processes of melt generation and cryptic traces of past hydrothermal vents / surface environments on Mars. Further, the approaches and chemical tools that I utilise (including ultra-low-blank processing for highly siderophile element abundances and high-precision osmium isotopic compositions) are useful to understand alongside other diagnostic tracers due to their relevance to the astrophysical modelling of Solar System history.
- What does the chemical memory of returned planetary materials and meteorites and their constituent minerals, tell us about the building blocks of habitable Earth? How do these materials help us to understand crust and mantle compositions as well as to model melting and decode volcanic edifices among protoplanets? Collectively, what evidence do these meteorites preserve of the workings of the Solar System?
- Earth is a planet of our Solar System too, but is it and are its interior, atmospheric, and surface conditions responsible for the array of life that it supports unique in the universe? Are there other worlds teaming with even more life than our own?
- What are the characteristics and causes of certain aspects of Large Igneous Province volcanomagmatism over habitable Earth’s history; how do selected magma types compare to some forms of planetary melts?