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Place Stanislas in Nancy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

A number of the Earth & Solar System team attended the Developments In Noble Gas Understanding and Expertise (DINGUE, or “Crackpot” in French) conference held in the beautiful city of Nancy in France last week; a chance for scientists to discuss new and diverse advances in noble gas cosmochemistry and geochemistry, and a chance for me to experience my first conference! The conference, dedicated to the late Pete Burnard, ran from the 13th to the 15th of April, bringing together the intimate noble gas community of established researchers and PhD students down to Le Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques (CRPG) to exhibit their work (and musicianship), drink gallons of coffee, and attempt to make pain au chocolats endangered.

As this was my first conference I didn’t exactly know what to expect (aside from the obviously amazing French food and wine!), scientific conferences in media appear to be places where scientists gather to argue and nap, how would I, an innocent 1st year PhD student, survive this cauldron of sleep deprived, vicious geniuses?
This image could not have been further from the truth!
Warm greetings, fascinating discussions, and talks which were way too engaging to sleep through (mostly!), what a great experience! I came back with a new appreciation of the welcoming noble gas community, and a real desire to contribute to the wonderful work they were doing.

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The band from CRPG entertained us on the first evening of the conference, sporting new t-shirts specially designed for the occasion!

Noble gases feature properties which make them a valuable tool for understanding the Earth, Solar System and beyond. Their diagnostic electron configuration means that they rarely react to form compounds and are instead lost to the atmosphere or trapped in rocks, preserving the composition of the reservoir the rock formed in, and potentially any heating, cooling or particle bombardment. Measuring the relative isotopic compositions of these gases in samples allows us to determine a number of interesting features ranging from meteorite ages to the origin of planetary atmospheres, so the conference really had something for everyone!

Talks touched on everything from comet surface processes to ancient mantle gases, sparking profound questions and passionate discussions along the way. The conference also featured notable contributions from the University of Manchester researchers in attendance, with three presentations and a poster adding to the diverse noble gas science on show. But the science didn’t stop when the talks were over, scientists fresh from the projector transformed into a noble gas themed band, complete with cheesy science jokes and questionable dancing, dingue indeed!

Here are some links to the talks and posters our team presented:

Clay, P.L., McDonald, F.E., Joy, K.H., Burgess, R., Ruzié, L., Joachim, B. and Ballentine, C.J. – HALOGENS IN LUNAR SAMPLES BY THE NOBLE-GAS METHOD

Crowther, S.A., Cowpe, J.S. and Gilmour, J.D. – RELAX: AN ULTRASENSITIVE MASS SPECTROMETER FOR MEASURING XENON ISOTOPE RATIOS IN EXTRATERRESTRIAL MATERIALS

Gilmour, J.D. and Crowther, S.A. – THE IODINE-XENON SYSTEM IN PRIMITIVE EARLY SOLAR SYSTEM MATERIAL

McDonald, F.E., Clay, P.L., Joy, K.H., Ballentine, C.J. and Burgess, R. – ANCIENT MANTLE HALOGEN (Cl, Br, I) COMPOSITION FROM ARCHAEAN KOMATIITES

Ruzié-Hamilton, L., Chavrit, D., Burgess, R., Hilton, D.R. and Ballentine, C.J. – IODINE SIGNATURE IN THE MANUS BACK-ARC BASIN: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE IODINE CYCLE IN THE EARTH’S MANTLE

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Hanging out with pirates in Nancy!

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Noble gas geochemist or rock star?!

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