Berkeley Lab has a well-storied expertise in exploring samples of extraterrestrial origin. This research—which has helped us to understand the makeup and origins of objects within and beyond our solar system—stems from long-standing core capabilities in structural and chemical analyses and measurement at the microscale and nanoscale. Read more »
Experiments conducted at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) helped to confirm that samples of interplanetary particles—collected from Earth’s upper atmosphere and believed to originate from comets—contain dust left over from the initial formation of the solar system. Read more »
Machine-learning techniques have been used to integrate fine- and large-scale infrared characterizations of shale—sedimentary rocks composed of minerals and organic matter. Understanding shale chemistry at both the nano and mesoscale is relevant to energy production, climate-change mitigation, and sustainable water and land use. Read more »
A new study suggests that water may be more common than expected at extreme depths approaching 400 miles and possibly beyond—within Earth’s lower mantle. The study explored microscopic pockets of a trapped form of crystallized water molecules in a sampling of diamonds from around the world. Read more »
Researchers have discovered some good news regarding corals: the mechanism by which their exoskeletons grow may help them resist the effects of ocean acidification. The discovery, made with PEEM studies, has ramifications not only for the health of coral reefs, but for applications such as 3D printing as well.
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Accurate assessment of the suitability of subsurface rock formations for CO2 containment requires a good understanding of fracture evolution. Researchers combined x-ray microtomography with advanced computer simulations to improve models of fracture development in carbonate-rich shale samples.
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Skeletons of Stylophora pistillata corals form by the attachment of amorphous calcium carbonate precursor particles, formed within the coral tissue, to the coral skeleton surface. This mechanism is faster than the precipitation of ions from solution and may render the corals less susceptible to ocean acidification than previously assumed. Read more »
Mars may have been a wetter place than previously thought, according to experiments on lab-synthesized mineral samples serving as proxies for Martian meteorites. Shock experiments followed by x-ray diffraction studies showed how changes in the minerals could indicate a more water-rich history for the Red Planet.
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Some rocks can float on water for years at a time before eventually sinking. X-ray microtomography studies help explain how by scanning samples of lightweight, glassy, and porous volcanic rocks known as pumice stones. Their surprisingly long-lived buoyancy can help scientists discover underwater volcano eruptions. Read more »
The veins of living leaves at increasing levels of drought stress were visualized using x-ray microtomography. The results expand our view of leaf drought responses, beyond the traditional embolism-centric view, to a broader focus on the role of the surrounding living tissues in water movement during drought. Read more »