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Processes operating during the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets for the past 4.6 Gyr have resulted in a complex distribution of chemical elements. Elemental fractionations result from variable element partitioning among solids, fluids and melts, and can yield a wealth of information about the nature of the processes involved

The purpose of this COE-21 program is to elucidate the dynamic processes leading to complex elemental distributions by a thorough understanding of the physico-chemistry of element partitioning. The following three primary approaches are taken:

  • Advanced analytical facilities and techniques are used to determine quantitatively the chemistry of samples of natural Earth and terrestrial planetary materials. Chemical variations among samples can then be related to changes in fundamental variables such as pressure, temperature and composition.
  • Advanced analytical facilities and techniques are used to measure the isotopic compositions with great precision and accuracy of the daughter products of radioactive decay series. This yields a wealth of information regarding both the absolute timing and magnitude of chemical fractionations, allowing us to "see" processes that occurred in the distant past.
  • Experiments are performed on Earth materials at pressures and temperatures that simulate conditions from Earth's surface to the core. The physico-chemical basis of element partitioning is deduced through these experiments so that models can be developed to explain chemical fractionations observed in natural samples.

ISEI is an ideal host Institute for collaborative studies with researchers from around the world. We have advanced experimental and technological facilities and expertise, and have developed methodologies that are easily transferable to the visiting researcher. We can provide an efficient and productive research environment for the visitor, permitting cutting-edge research to be performed.

The next generation of research carried out under this new COE-21 program is to advance our understanding of solid Earth and planetary material science to a new and higher level. A key to success of this project is the involvement of the international community, not only in collaborative research but also in continuous evaluation of the progress and goals of the program.