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Our committee has been asked to review the research activities in the Institute for Study of the Earth's Interior (ISEI), Okayama University, Misasa Japan. We visited ISEI between January 12 and January 15, 2000, interviewed all its staff members and visited their laboratories. The ISEI was established in 1985 and reorganized in 1995. Prior to the reorganization, an oversea visiting committee of N. Shimizu, R.N. Clayton, C.T. Prewitt (C. Allegre by correspondence) had reviewed ISEI in 1994. Our review therefore will focus on its activity in the last five years.
Our very positive impression of the Institute is supported by the active and high-level research activities as well as array of most modern analytical and experimental facilities calibrated and operated in good conditions. Most impressive was enthusiasm by many young scientists (including post-docs) who were very eager to show their research. Two of us (Mizutani and Takahashi) have previous connections to ISEI, the other three (Hemley, Ishida and Javoy) visited it for the first time. We all are fully convinced that ISEI now has developed into a world class institute dedicated to basic research in solid earth sciences.
During the last five years, one of the most outstanding new development at ISEI was the establishment of a very extensive solid-state mass-spectrometry lab (the PML lab). Multi-isotope analysis can be done at PML by array of TIMS using as much as seven isotope systems. A striking technical development at PML is the combined beam analysis system using SEM, EPMA and two SIMS, which yield all sorts of chemical information from a tiny specimen. The PML clearly now is one of the most well equipped and technically advanced solid-state geochemistry labs in the world. Because Japan was historically weak in this field, the PML is expected to serve as a leading school in solid-state geochemistry.
ISEI was historically strong and internationally well recognized by very high-pressure experiments. This group is still very active in developing new pressure generation techniques, setting up a diamond-anvil and a NMR labs and working jointly at the synchrotron facility SPring-8. Subsolidus phase relations of the mantle to explain seismic discontinuities and melting behavior of mantle rocks to explain the diversity of magmas were the two important topics in ISEI. These are still in progress. In addition, there have been significant recent successes in measuring high-pressure physical properties of mantle minerals, such as thermal diffusivity, electrical conductivity, and viscosity.
A new research branch (Basic Volcanology) was established at the time of reorganization in 1995. This branch was aimed to link the two strong branches in ISEI (very high-pressure experiments and the PML) by introducing insights of magmatology (volcanology, igneous petrology, and silicate melt science). The role of this branch, however, is now less visible than that of the other two branches. This may be due to the fact that I. Kushiro who established this branch has retired and that K. Ozawa is moving to Tokyo. This branch clearly needs personnel who can play key roles to interact between the two strong groups.
The levels of science in ISEI on the whole are very high. It is well demonstrated by their publication list. During the two-day interview, we were very impressed by the excellent ability of all ISEI staffs (and post-docs) in English. As in other institutes, communication and collaboration between scientists in different research groups could be improved. We recommend the development of a collaborative program of focused research targets that will be attacked by close association of ISEI scientists, to complement its many diverse individual research targets. This may help to increase its visibility in the global earth science community.
To conclude, ISEI stands as one of the leading research institute in the world, having strong emphasis in very high-pressure experiment and solid-state geochemistry. Its success in having acquired a high-quality staff and an enormous amount of research equipment as well as a brand new building are clearly due to immense efforts of the past directors; Y. Matsui, S. Akimoto and I. Kushiro. Having a new director M. Kono (a well-known specialist of theoretical and experimental geomagnetism), ISEI will have a chance to expand their communication to the geodynamics community and solve some fundamental problems in solid earth sciences. In order for further success of ISEI, we recommend (1) to employ high-level engineers who will support technical innovations, (2) to encourage more graduate students to come, and (3) to have research targets representing the institute. There may be some room to reconsider grouping of the scientists and the arrangement of their office and laboratories in order to facilitate more communication and collaboration.

February 29, 2000
Visiting Committee Members
Russell Hemley
Mizuho Ishida
Mark Javoy
Hitoshi Mizutani
Eiichi Takahashi (Chair)

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