Discovering New Minerals at Micron to Nanoscales: A SEM-EBSD-EPMA Approach

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 3:25 PM
Chi Ma, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
With high-resolution analytical field emission scanning electron microscope and electron probe microanalyzer, we are now capable to characterize Earth and planetary materials easier and faster down to nanoscales. Nanofeatures (such as inclusions, exsolution, zonation, coatings, pores) in minerals and rocks are being discovered. Nanominerals and nanoparticles are being revealed. New minerals and new materials are being identified. During our ongoing nanomineralogy investigation since 2006, more than twenty five new minerals have been discovered at micron to nanoscales. Fifteen of them are from the Allende meteorite, including new refractory minerals like allendeite, hexamolybdenum, tistarite, panguite and kangite, which are among the first solids formed in our solar system. Each of the new extraterrestrial minerals reveals distinctive forming environments, providing insights into nebula or parent-body processes. Presented here are a few nanomineralogy projects demonstrating how to find and characterize new minerals with an integrated SEM-EBSD-EPMA approach.