Rocks & Space

Tidy Tuesday for earth scientists: A treasure trove of datasets to practice coding and data visualisation

Kelly-Anne Lawler is a PhD candidate in the Palaeoenvironments group and is one of the few people at RSES who prefers R to Python (if there are more of you out there, get in touch)!

What is Tidy Tuesday?

Each Tuesday, the R4DS Online Learning Community posts a raw dataset on their Github site, along with an article or chart relating to the data. The intention is that we (scientists, coding enthusiasts, data visualisation fans) can use the datasets to explore, wrangle, and create data visualisations using R software, or any other coding language that we like! So even if you prefer to use something like Python or Matlab, these datasets are an interesting way to practise your data wrangling and visualisation skills, especially if you don’t have any data of your own to work with yet.

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#MinCup: The Olympics of Minerals

Bozana Pasic is a PhD candidate in Experimental Petrology at RSES. Her research investigates the behaviour of silica in low and high temperature environments, and how to better understand the processes affecting its existence… well, everywhere.

The roar of a stadium when your favourite athlete places first on that podium is something that needs to be experienced, or so they say, cannot be replicated. The heart-stopping last few seconds of the event until the winner is declared, the adrenaline rush that emanates once that line is crossed or that point scored is something we can all relate to in one form or another, but that’s if you like sport.

What if you don’t like sport? What if you like something else? What if that something else is minerals, and what if you like minerals competing against one another? Well…

The Mineral Cup is for you!

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Pieces of the Red Planet

Aditya Patkar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group at RSES. His research involves studying meteorites to unravel the mysteries of the early solar system as well as the formation and evolution of planets.

Interest in space exploration and habitation is at an all-time high, and our red neighbour, Mars, tops our list of most favourable destinations. There have been 14 different missions aimed at exploring and studying Mars through orbiters and rovers in the past two decades alone. While scientists are analysing the planet remotely using data from space probes that are worth billions of dollars, nature has delivered pieces of the red planet to us in the form of invaluable treasures – meteorites!

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Chemistry of the Cosmos

22 October 2020

Rachel Kirby is a PhD candidate in the Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group at RSES.  Her current research focusses on the role of gases and high temperature processes in the formation of early solar system materials.

When people ask what my field of research is, the quick answer is cosmochemistry and planetary geology.  But what does that mean? 

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Let’s talk about sea level rise

21 October 2020

Guadalupe Alvarez is a first-year masters student in the Earth Dynamics group.  

Global sea level rise has been increasing over the past number of years. In the last 30 years alone, global sea level has risen by 9 cm! In some form, we can observe sea level rise when we go to the beach, and notice the coastline changing from year to year. On the news, we have seen people evicted from their beautiful beach side mansions, because the foundations have eroded away.  

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Geology of Tasmania

Every two years a group of PhD students disappear into the geological wilderness for the RSES Student Field Trip. In 2014, students spent two weeks camping in the Australian outback investigating the regional geology of Central Australia. After many discussions and presentations about exotic and tropical locations, the student cohort settled on a geological road trip around Tasmania. Here is a  quick overview of the geological history of Tasmania and some of the cool sites we managed to visit.

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Week 38: Wee Jasper

This weeks post is from third year Msci geology exchange student Jesse Zondervan who has been visiting RSES for the last year. This was originally posted on the 10th April on Jesse’s personal blog site.

By Jesse Zondervan

The two week mid-semester break started off with a field trip to Wee Jasper, in the bush of New South Wales. After five days of walking around in a field shirt and hat without phone signal I arrived back in civilization on Wednesday evening. Back in Canberra I spent the rest of my time writing for my assignments and the student newspaper. I also worked on the microscope with Janelle and played some boardgames with the B&G boardgames society.

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A Flying Visit to the Berkeley Synchrotron

By Rachel

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to get to go over to California for a few days all in the name of science.  We stayed up in the hills behind Berkeley, a short walk away from the instrument we were using.  The view from our hotel room was pretty amazing with views across San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.

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How to write a scientific journal article

-by Louise Schoneveld

Last week I snuck into the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science’s scientific paper writing workshop, held here at the ANU. I thought I would share a few of the nuggets of wisdom I learnt during my 3 days at the workshop. I am not a climate scientist but was lucky enough to score a place in this workshop.

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From little things, big things flow

By Rick

In the widely used pyrolite model for mantle composition developed by Ted Ringwood (a former Professor at RSES), the chemistry of the Earth’s mantle is dominated by a small handful of oxides: SiO2, MgO, FeO, CaO, and Al2O3, with smaller amounts of Na2O, TiO2, and Cr2O3. The study of the physical and chemical properties of the Earth’s mantle is predominantly the study of the mineral phases formed by these oxides. However, chemical elements occurring at minor and even trace abundance can be almost as important for the properties of the mantle.

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by Louise Schoneveld

Anthophyllite asbestos SEM
Anthophyllite asbestos in SEM image (scale 50microns)

Asbestos has become a scary word, but do you know what it is? It is actually a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals that have an asbestiform crystal habit. This habit describes crystals that have a roughly 1:20 aspect ratio:

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Disney–Pixar’s “Lava” explained by a geologist–volcanologist

I Lava You

Following the tradition of Disney films produced by Pixar Animation Studios, the recent 2015 release of Inside Out was accompanied by a short video simply called Lava. Here it is:

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[gemstones] Emeralds

by Louise Schoneveld

Out of “the big 4” gemstones, we’ve already learnt about the two corundums; ruby and sapphire, now it’s time to go green with emerald.

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[gemstones] Corundum

Ever heard the words “I would like a corundum ring please”? Probably not. Maybe because when corundum found in gem quality it is often called sapphire or ruby.

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See What I Mean?

By Pat

Eleanor’s post last week on scale provided the perfect segue for my first ever blog (!). Like many people when I think about my work, I find it useful to visualise processes to better understand them. I do this when I think about the interactions of atoms, tectonic plates and planets for example. In geoscience it seems we often work on scales that are either too small to see or too large see all at once (or at all) and thus an imagination is vital. It is a misconception that creative people study arts whilst regimented people study science.

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