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Redox controls on the mineralogy of Earth, Mercury, and Mars
July 23, 12:00 pm
Presented by Kevin Righter
The terrestrial planets Earth, Mercury and Mars exhibit very different surface compositions, mineralogy and general properties many of which can be explained by oxygen gradients in the inner solar system. Dr. Righter will use sulfur as an example of the contrasting role of oxygen pressure in controlling the geochemical and mineralogic properties of planets. He will describe how his experimental studies have helped to understand the behavior of sulfur in each planet, as well as how this has led to their unique mineralogies. Emphasis will be placed on how exploration of these planets has led to an enhanced understanding and appreciation of Earth’s geochemistry and mineralogy. Dr. Righter will also highlight some fruitful areas of future research in experimental petrology.
About Dr. Righter
Dr. Righter is originally from Pittsburgh, graduated from Haverford/Bryn Mawr College with a degree in Geology, and was first exposed to planetary science in a summer internship in Houston. He attended University of Michigan and received an MS degree studying the redox properties of pallasite meteorites. He then attended the University of California in Berkeley where he carried out field and experimental studies of basic volcanism in western Mexico. For this PhD thesis work, he mapped a large region of monogenetic volcanoes near the west coast of Mexico, and studied a specific basic lava called lamprophyre for its phase relations at high pressure and temperature conditions. With this background in terrestrial and meteoritic science, he became a research scientist at the University of Arizona where he carried out experimental studies related to core formation and basaltic magmatism in terrestrial planets and the Moon. In 2002 he was fortunate to be hired as Antarctic meteorite curator at NASA Johnson Space Center, where he has been ever since. Overseeing the Antarctic meteorite collection (>22,000 meteorites) and managing an experimental petrology lab have allowed him to be engaged in many facets of planetary science in both service and research roles.