The future of high-pressure mineral physics



Research in mineral physics is essential in interpreting observational data from many other disciplines in the Earth sciences, including geodynamics, seismology, geochemistry petrology geomagnetism, and planetary science, as well as materials science and climate studies, as illustrated in Figure l. The field of high-pressure mineral physics is highly interdisciplinary and fundamentally multidisciplinary mineral physicists do not always study minerals or use only physics; they study the science of materials that compose the Earth and other planets, and employ concepts and techniques from chemistry physics, materials science, and biology.

A dramatic example of this interdisciplinarity in action occurred during the past year. The experimental discovery and theoretical confirmation in 2004 of a new phase of magnesium metasilicate (MgSiO3) stable only at pressures above 100 Gigapascals (and termed the postperovskite phase) has had an immediate and profound impact on multidisciplinary studies of the deep mantle of the Earth (see article by Lay et al. in the 4 January 2005 issue of Eos).