Nanoscopic Approaches in Earth and Planetary Sciences
The properties of matter at extreme length scales and the respective processes can differ markedly from the properties and processes at length scales directly accessible to human observation. This scale-dependent behaviour is possible in both directions; towards very large and very small scales. Scientists explore the frontiers of these extreme length scales in an effort to gain insight into yet unknown properties and processes. While the exploration of larger scales has been established since the Renaissance era, a comprehensive investigation of small scales was impeded by the limitations of optical microscopy. These imitations were overcome in the 20th century. Since then, a continuous series of developments in analytical power has taken place. Today these developments allow studies of properties and processes even at the molecular or atomic scale (often referred to as nanoscience). These modern nanoscientific possibilities have triggered new innovative projects in geosciences, providing fascinating insights into small scales. Therefore, nanogeoscience has become a very important geoscientific subdiscipline.
Nanopetrology of pyroxenes: reconstruction of geodynamic parameters using TEM techniques
Published:January 01, 2010
Frank E. Brenker, 2010. "Nanopetrology of pyroxenes: reconstruction of geodynamic parameters using TEM techniques", Nanoscopic Approaches in Earth and Planetary Sciences, Frank E. Brenker, Guntram Jordan
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Though it may sound like a contradiction to obtain detailed information about large-scale processes such as mountain building, plate tectonics, global recycling or even the origin and formation of our solar system from investigations at the nanoscopic to atomic scale, the step from the micro- to the nanoscale is indeed the most important one. This is not just analysis with greater magnification, but the study of matter at a fundamental level.
To better understand geodynamic processes such as subduction, continent–continent collision or exhumation of oceanic or continental crust, it is essential to quantify the evolution of each component in as much detail as possible. records of all of these processes are kept in the microstructures. In addition to the widely used geothermobarometric methods based on element partitioning between minerals, microstructures provide a variety of systems to determine temperature-time histories (e.g. Buseck & Iijima, 1975; Buseck et al., 1980; Robinson et al., 1971, 1977; Schröpfer et al., 1990; Skrotzki et al., 1991; Skrotzki, 1992; Schumacher et al., 1994; Klein et al., 1996; Joanny et al., 1991; Carpenter, 1981b; Müller, 1991; Müller et al., 1995; Veblen, 1991; Weinbruch & Müller, 1995).