Minerals are truly a marvel. Defined as a class of naturally occurring substances (typically inorganic) with a crystalline chemical structure, their composition, growth habits, and color vary greatly. They are so important to the Earth’s formation and the evolution of life on Earth. Not only can they help us understand the Earth’s history, but they can also help us model exoplanetary structures (shout out to June!). Minerals help the human body develop healthily. They make strong bones, transmit nerve impulses, make hormones, help keep a normal heartbeat, and so much more. They are used in jewelry and have historically been mined for their beauty and their industrial use. Their physical and chemical properties are employed in industrial uses including paints and coatings, papermaking, rubber, adhesives and sealants, plastics, pharmaceuticals, agricultural pesticides, ceramics and glass, and numerous commercial mineral products. You can find them almost anywhere you look. From pots and pans to makeup to fruit juice to baby powder to cakes and bread, minerals are truly indispensable from life on Earth. Different people appreciate minerals for various reasons, such as their appearance, their physical and chemical properties, or even their ~healing powers~ (ha!). In this blog, we hope that you are able to see what minerals mean to us and can begin to understand what they mean to you.

  • MgO-XRD-EP-20a campaign, My First Trip to Omega Laser Facility
    By Juliette Lamoureux  I became part of  Wicks’ Lab as lab manager and research assistant last fall. Joining in on June’s course on shock experiments, I was introduced to the basic physics and set-up of dynamic compression experiments and assigned velocimetry and X-ray diffraction data to analyze. Then, in December, I was invited to join … Read more
  • LiF-Physics-EP-19b
    Figure 1. Look how happy we look! The first campaign with my first two graduate students, Tyler and Zixuan. We assisted on a Laboratory Basic Science (LBS) program to explore the phase diagram of LiF. Figure 2. My first professor selfie. I will never top this. LLNL happened to be on site shooting B roll … Read more
  • Sitting Down with Professor Bruce Marsh by Campbell Knobloch
    “I’m in my Darwinian mode of research. I’m doing the important rather than the urgent.” Today I got to sit down with Professor Bruce Marsh to talk about the history of the Earth & Planetary Sciences Department, the Williams Mineral Collection, and how the fields of mineralogy and petrology have evolved over the course of … Read more
    Figure 1. My first campaign as a professor! Undergraduate Junellie Gonzalez Quiles (UMD, BS ‘18) and myself assisted on a Princeton/LLNL project