78th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society

This week is the 78th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society in Berkeley, California, and several members of our group will be presenting their research at the meeting. In fact, I’m writing this while in a big tin can somewhere above the Atlantic on Saturday, en route to California.

This is a much smaller meeting than some other conference like the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March, or the Goldschmidt conference which will be taking place in Prague next month. As the name might suggest, this conference focuses on meteorites!

Kicking off the presentations from our group, Ian Lyon will be talking about High Spatial Resolution Ratio Imaging and 3D Reconstruction of Presolar SiC Grains, Abstract # 5297, on Monday. Ian has been using The University of Manchester’s new NanoSIMS instrument to look at carbon, silicon and nitrogen in presolar grains, tiny grains which pre-date our Solar System and have survived in very primitive meteorites.

At Tuesday evening’s poster session Alex Clarke will be presenting her work on Combined Tof-SIMS and NanoSIMS Analysis of Gently Separated Presolar SiC Grains, Abstract # 5321. Alex uses a freeze-thaw method to separate presolar grains from meteorites (rather than acid treatments used by other people), and has used the TOFSIMS instrument to determine major and trace element abundances, and then the NanoSIMS to measure isotope ratios for carbon, nitrogen and silicon.

Wednesday morning sees presentations for various awards. Then we get a trip out in the afternoon, I’m going to the baseball in San Francisco.

Thursday morning its back to the grindstone, and Jamie Gilmour will be talking about Characterising Phase Q and the Q-Process with Iodine and Xenon, Abstract # 5255. Q and P3 are two distinct components of xenon found in meteorites, but it appears that they originated from the same parent reservoir and were trapped in meteorites by similar processes, the only major difference being that Q-xenon was trapped later in the galaxy’s history that P3-xenon.

My talk immediately follows Jamie’s: The Iodine-Xenon System in Achondrites, Abstract # 5242. I’ve analysed the xenon isotopic composition of the unique achondrite NWA 7325, which has a trapped component that was inherited from a reservoir with a high I/Xe ratio, which much have been incorporated several 10s of millions of years after the Solar System’s formation.

Thursday is a busy day, in the afternoon Rhian Jones will be talking about Assessing The Degree Of Secondary Alteration in Chondrules from one of the Least Altered CR Chondrites, EET92042, Abstract # 5190. Rhian has used a range of experimental techniques to clarify the nature and extent of alteration of chondrules in the meteorite EET92042, and found the observed alteration effects are heterogeneous because they depend on local mineralogy.

And last, but most definitely not least, on Friday Torsten Henkel will be talking about First In-Situ Analysis of Amino Acids in the Murchison Meteorite with C60-TOFSIMS, Abstract # 5256. One of the TOFSIMS mass spectrometers in our labs uses C60 molecules (buckminsterfullerene or “bucky balls”) to produce secondary ions with little fragmentation of large organic molecules, enabling Torsten to identify several amino acids in this meteorite.

There are also several other abstracts being presented by other people at the conference which members of our group have contributed to:

Hopefully we’ll find time to tweet and/or write some short updates here from the conference –follow us on Twitter @EarthSolarSystm. Ohh food is coming, so it’s time for me to finish up!

Monday morning update just before I upload this (although I know it’s evening at home!) – we’re loving Berkeley so far. It turns out that the sky is blue, not really grey, and there’s a big yellow thing in the sky, something we don’t see very often in Manchester! I want to see if we can move Manchester out here!


About Sarah Crowther

I'm a Post Doc in the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group. I study xenon isotope ratios using the RELAX mass spectrometer, to try to learn more about the origins and evolution of our solar system. I look at a wide range of samples from solar wind returned by NASA's Genesis mission to zircons (some of the oldest known terrestrial rocks), from meteorites to presolar grains.
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