Elements: Carbonatites

February 08, 2022

Carbonatites are rare, but important, igneous rocks in the Earth’s crust. They are composed of Ca, Mg, and Fe carbonates, along with many minor and trace components. The majority of the world’s rare earth elements—which are essential for high-tech devices—are associated with carbonatites. This issue explores how carbonatites form and evolve in the mantle or crust, the temporal and tectonic controls on their formation, why they are enriched in rare earth elements, and their economic significance.

Current Geochemical Society members can access this issue now via the Elements website using your email address (UserID) and member number (Password).


Remembering William “Bill” Reeburgh (1940-2021)

December 15, 2021

Professor William S. Reeburgh, known to friends and colleagues as Bill, died in July. He was a Geochemistry Fellow and active supporter of the Geochemical Society for many years. He and his wife, Carelyn, established the Endowed Biogeochemistry Lecture in 2016 and it is now an important part of the annual Goldschmidt Conference.

Born in 1940 in Port Arthur, Texas, Bill received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in oceanography from Johns Hopkins University. He was professor and chair of Marine Science at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks for many years. In 1993, he moved to the University of California, Irvine as a founding professor of the university's Department of Earth System Science.

According to a press release from UCI:

"Bill Reeburgh's research contributed enormously to our understanding of the global methane cycle, and it was once said that he was to methane what Dave Keeling was to CO2. He recognized that methane entering the atmosphere and oceans represents the small imbalance between very large methane production and oxidation sinks resulting from microbial activity in sediments and soils. He demonstrated an important new sink mechanism for methane in oxygen-free environments, but had to convince skeptical microbiologists, as no microbe had then been discovered with this metabolism. To do this, Bill used what he called "the 3R's" – documenting routes, reactions and rates by combining tools ranging from sediment reaction-diffusion modeling, isotope labeling and stable isotope distributions to build an incontrovertible case. Many of the measurements came from favorite field sites in Skan Bay, Alaska and the Black Sea."

His important contributions to the fields of biogeochemistry and global elemental cycling were recognized by the GS and EAG in 2018 when Bill was named a Geochemistry Fellow. He was also a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Bill and Carelyn were married for 54 years and raised three children together. On retiring from UCI, Bill moved to Vancouver, Washington where he enjoyed woodworking, spending time with his six grandchildren, and serving on various scientific advisory committees, including the GS Strategic Planning Committee.

Bill will be missed by his many friends and colleagues in the Geochemical Society. But his and Carelyn's generosity will be felt long into the future as the Endowed Biogeochemistry Lecture continues to recognize innovative science in this field.

The Geochemical Society has planted a tree in memory of Bill Reeburgh. You can also plant a tree in his name.

Remembering Professor William "Bill" S. Reeburgh - UCI Physical Sciences Communications

Category: In Memoriam

Vote in the GS Board Election

November 17, 2021

All current GS members are entitled to vote in the annual Board of Directors election. The board governs the society throughout the year and represents the interests of the membership. Please take a moment to review the slate of candidates and vote. The election is open until 7 December 2021.

Remembering Frederick A. Frey (1938-2021)

October 11, 2021

Fred Frey passed away on September 13, 2021 at 83 years of age.  For over 50 years, Fred worked to build our understanding of the chemical composition of the Earth’s upper mantle and the generation of magma through mantle partial melting.  He sought to understand the processes that lead to the diverse trace element and isotopic compositions of mantle rocks and mantle-derived magmas.  Fred’s research was unique in that it encompassed two approaches to this understanding: direct study of mantle xenoliths and tectonically emplaced mantle rocks and the complementary study of magmas generated in different tectonic settings - at mid ocean ridges, oceanic islands, and subduction zones.


Category: In Memoriam

Exploring Earth and Planetary Materials with Neutrons

September 23, 2021

For over half a century, the structural details and the dynamics of atomic arrangements in materials have been determined using neutron-based scattering and absorption measurements. Neutron scattering experiments have contributed valuable information on geological materials and how these interact with fluids. In situ studies of transformations and fundamental properties can emulate diverse environments from Earth’s surface to its deep interior. Potential growth of the “neutron community” is being realized with the development of new and improved neutron sources. This issue will familiarize the reader with the basic concepts of neutron scattering, the methods that are available to Earth scientists, provide a summary of facilities around the world, and give key applications of the technique.

Current Geochemical Society members can access this issue now via the Elements website using your email address (UserID) and member number (Password).


Recognizing a Broader Spectrum of Achievement

July 29, 2021

Excellence in geochemistry can be defined in many ways. Of course, this includes publication of novel discoveries, but it also includes teaching, capacity building, influencing policy making, science communication, and much more. Recognizing this, the Geochemical Society has broadened the definition of excellence we use in many of our award criteria.

The GS is also committed to increasing diversity in geochemistry and among its formally recognized inspirational and prominent figures. We seek to promote and encourage diversity and inclusion while furthering equity, a true sense of belonging, and success for all people. In particular, the society is keen to encourage talented researchers from underrepresented groups to serve as nominators and to be nominated for society awards.

Everyone in the geochemistry community is invited to participate in this process. Check out this list of frequently asked questions, which helps to demystify the process.

To submit a nomination, get started by reviewing the list of awards and their criteria. Nominations for our awards and special lectures are due by October 31.

GS to Add Early Career Members to its Board of Directors

July 26, 2021

Students, postdoctoral scholars, and other early career scientists form a crucial segment of the Geochemical Society's membership. To make sure that we consider the needs of this population, the society is adding two new seats on its board specifically for early career researchers (ECR). The board is responsible for governing the organization and determining how our programs can best serve the international geochemistry community. Serving on the board is an opportunity to develop as a leader, meet colleagues from around the world, and make a real contribution to the society and larger community.

Early career scientists may self-nominate or be nominated by others for this role by August 20, 2021.


July 12, 2021

Stalagmites, stalactites, and flowstone—collectively known as speleothems—are some of the most fantastic mineral features in nature. Speleothems are also critical archives of past environments, and their study incorporates expertise from groundwater hydrogeology and geochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, climate science, geobiology, and even geophysics. Research on speleothem trace element and isotopic geochemistry, constituent organic compounds, noncarbonate minerals, and morphology can help illuminate paleoenvironmental conditions and document historical anthropogenic land-use changes. This issue of Elements introduces the many ways that speleothems are used within the geoscience community to learn about natural Earth processes and our role in modifying them. 
Current Geochemical Society members can access this issue now via the Elements website using your email address (UserID) and member number (Password).

Ross Taylor (1925-2021)

May 24, 2021

Stuart Ross Taylor, Goldschmidt Medalist (1993) and Geochemistry Fellow, passed away in Canberra, Australia on May 23, 2021, surrounded by family. Ross was a geochemist who made seminal contributions to our understanding of the origin and evolution of Earth's continental crust, and the composition and origin of the Moon, meteorites, tektites, and the solar system. Born in Ashburton, New Zealand in 1925, he received a BSc and MSc Hons from the University of New Zealand followed by a PhD in 1954 at the University of Indiana, USA, where he studied under fellow Kiwi Brian Mason. Taylor was Mason's only PhD student and Mason himself was the last PhD student of Victor Moritz Goldschmidt. Following his PhD, Ross became a tenured lecturer at Oxford University where he worked with Louis Ahrens and built an emission spectroscopy laboratory. There he met Noël, the love of his life, who was working on organic crystallography with Dorothy Hodgkin. They married in 1958 just before Ross accepted an appointment as a senior lecturer in geochemistry at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he began his work on the origin of tektites, mysterious glassy droplets found strewn over large regions of Earth. In 1961 he was recruited by John Jaeger to the ANU as a senior fellow in geophysics and in 1962 became a professorial fellow in the Research School of Earth Sciences where he spent the remainder of his career. At ANU he set up an emission spectrograph and later a spark-source mass spectrometer to analyze trace elements at unprecedented detection levels and precision. There he continued his work on tektites, establishing that they are terrestrial in origin and generated at meteorite impact sites. Shortly thereafter, Ross was invited to join the preliminary analysis team for the Apollo 11 and 12 missions and he produced the first geochemical analyses of lunar return samples. Ross went on to become a world expert on lunar composition and origin. He also focused his spectrometers on terrestrial samples such as andesites and sedimentary rocks, developing the andesite model for crustal origin and defining the composition of the upper continental crust through the analyses of terrigenous sediments (shales and loess). Over his prolific career Ross published more than 240 papers and nine books. He received a myriad of honors, including the Goldschmidt Award of the Geochemical Society, the Leonard Medal of the Meteoritical Society, the Bucher Medal from the American Geophysical Union, election to Australian Academy of Sciences, foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, Companion of the Order of Australia, and the naming of asteroid 5670 Rosstaylor. Despite these lofty accomplishments, Ross was always humble and kind and widely loved by his students, post-docs, and colleagues. A student of history, he always had interesting historical anecdotes to share, as anyone who has read the footnotes in his books will know. Ross is survived by his wife of 63 years, Noël Taylor, daughters Judith, Susanna, and Helen, grandson Angelo, and son-in-law Michael.

Roberta L. Rudnick, UC Santa Barbara

Category: In Memoriam

Dates Announced for Upcoming Goldschmidt Conferences

May 06, 2021

The GS and EAG are pleased to announce that the 2022 Goldschmidt Conference will take place in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, USA and online from July 10-15. This follows the cancellation of the in-person meeting originally scheduled in Honolulu last year. Plans were well underway for field trips, workshops, and social events to give delegates opportunities to explore the geology and culture of the Aloha State. Many of these events will now take place during next year's meeting. Hybrid components will provide remote participation options, as well.

Dates for the following conferences are also confirmed:

  • July 9-14, 2023 • Location to be determined
  • August 18-25, 2024 • Chicago, Illinois, USA