Goldschmidt2017: Meet the bloggers (1/2)

We’re now just a few days away from the start of the 27th Goldschmidt Conference on geochemistry. More than 4000 delegates from over 50 countries across the globe will be polishing their presentations, wrapping their posters, packing up their suitcases, and getting ready to board planes, trains and automobiles destined for the enchanting city of Paris in France.


Goldschmidt 2017 is sure to be as exciting as ever, with 200 sessions across 23 themes playing host to a staggering number of posters and oral presentations, not to mention the wide variety of workshops, field trips, and early career events on the programme. Highlights this year include the launch of Goldschmidt Wild Orbit Cinema, Tuesday lunchtime’s Pop-Up talks, plenary talks from Matthieu Gounelle, Paul G. Falkowski,  Hélène Langevin-Joliot, Laurie Reisberg and Shuhei Ono, and opportunities to enjoy some fine cuisine, listen to some music, or dive into some French culture and history at one of the many social events on offer.


Over the next couple of days, we’ll be introducing you to this year’s team of Goldschmidt bloggers, who’ll be keeping you up to date with all the latest happenings in Paris. Our seven intrepid bloggers—Deirdre Clark (University of Iceland), Martin Mangler (Imperial College London/Natural History Museum London), Sami Mikhail and Claire Cousins (University of St. Andrews), Clare Stead, Tadhg Dornan and Foteini Drakou (Trinity College Dublin)—will be roaming the seminar rooms and corridors of the Palais de Congrès, tramping the streets of Paris, snaking their way around the social and student events, and chatting to delegates of all forms and flavours, to bring you daily news, posts and tweets from across the conference.


To give you a taste of what’s to come, here are a few words from the first four of our bloggers, Deirdre, Sami, Tadhg and Clare.

Deirdre Clark

©Kristinn Ingvarsson Starfsmannamyndir - Verkfræði- og Náttúruvísindasvið

Hello Everyone! I am a final year PhD student at the University of Iceland studying carbon storage in basalts. Originally from the United States and Canada, I completed my master’s degree in hydrology and geochemistry at Utrecht University (NL) and then moved to Reykjavik in 2014.


My research is connected to the CarbFix project at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant in SW Iceland where they are currently injecting CO2 and H2S gas into basalt. While not sampling geothermal wells to monitor the injection and subsequent storage, I had also been running a high pressure flow through column experiments to better understand the geochemical conditions that kick off the mineralisation of carbon. Results from this experiment will be presented Monday at 10:00 in Session 7a.


This will be my second Goldschmidt and I am really looking forward to it, especially now that I have attended a few conferences. It will be lovely not only to catch up with people I know, but to continue to meet new geochemists and listen in on all the exciting research. Feel free to follow me on twitter (@clarkdeirdre) during the conference! Until then!

Sami Mikhail

I am a lecturer* at the University of St Andrews (*lecturer means Assistant Professor pretty much everywhere else in the world, besides the UK). My first passion as a child, was the origin, and the demise, of the dinosaurs. The cause(s) of mass extinction-level events was the next phenomenon to grasp my full-attention, followed by the origin of life. These amazing natural wonders share a common feature – atmospheric chemistry. So how did the atmosphere form? Is there significance to Earth’s unique tectonic regime in all of this? Note, the atmosphere is not a static box in a flow chart – it has inputs and outputs. Over geological time, the main drivers are volcanism (input) and subduction zone plate tectonics (output). This means the interior and exterior of the planet are exchanging material, and both exert a control on the other. However, my talk at this year’s Goldschmidt focuses on whether Earth has lost vast amounts of its atmosphere due to impact erosion. I am also involved in a few other presentations focusing on the preservation of biosignatures with increasing metamorphic grade (abstract), and diamond-formation – in collaboration with my MSc student, Mr James Crosby (abstract) and my former PhD advisor, Dr Adrian Jones (abstract).

Tadhg Dornan

Dia dhaoibh! (Hello everybody in Irish) I’m Tadhg Dornan, a first year PhD student from Trinity College Dublin. My research revolves around the mineral pyrite, and its role in the deterioration of building materials, due to the process of “pyritic heave”. Pyrites role in causing such deterioration may not be universally known but, in Ireland, the problem of pyritic heave is thought to affect over 12,000 homes across the country. As a result, the nature of my project is rooted in very Irish context and any outcomes or results will help generate a better understanding of the process and ensure the problem will not repeat itself.


The target of my research is to fingerprint a source for the deleterious material, based on the major and trace element composition of the pyrite crystals. In the short time that I have been doing my PhD, we have managed to analyse the major element composition of the pyrite by SEM-EDS, a poster showing this work will be displayed on Wednesday, August 16th. However, in the future, we hope to employ the LA-ICPMS technique to analyse the trace element composition of the pyrite and, hopefully, find the elements that discriminate the various quarry sources of this deleterious material.

Clare Stead

Hi, I’m Clare, a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin. I’m interested in the geochemistry and evolution of the mantle. My work focuses on using laser ablation analysis to determine and understand the behaviour of the rare earth elements in the mineral olivine. If you’d like to know more, I’ll be presenting my work on the diffusion of these elements in olivine at Goldschmidt this year in session 7e. The sessions I’m looking forward to in particular this year are those covering the formation and evolution of the lithosphere.

About the authors

The Goldschmidt 2017 Blogging Team: Clare Stead, Claire Cousins, Tadhg Dornan, Sami Mikhail, Foteini Drakou, Martin Mangler and Deirdre Clark.