My research can be generally described as "mineral exploration," which means exploring the mineralogy of other worlds such as Mars, as well as exploring for economic minerals here on Earth. Geologists like me use mineralogy and geochemistry to understand the the geologic history of planets and the processes that have affected them through time. We can measure mineralogy and geochemistry of samples in the laboratory using a range of techniques, but to study of other planets and distant parts of this planet, we often rely on remote sensing.
Martian mineralogy and geology
The Martian surface is older than that of Earth and it contains abundant clues to what the Solar System was like in its earliest phases, when life first formed on Earth. In this way, Mars is a Rosetta Stone of sorts for understanding the early Earth. But Mars is even More... As the most Earth-like planet known, we can learn a tremendous amount about how our planets work - with relevance to climate change and other fundamental processes. If you want to know more, click here.
Field and lab studies of planetary materials
One of the goals of my work is to understand natural processes on other planets - or on the early Earth - by studying geological materials in the field and in the laboratory. I travel to interesting field studies in terrains that are analogous to those we find on Mars or other planets. I also have an infrared spectroscopy lab at HKU where we can study the detailed chemistry and mineralogy of materials in order to better interpret infrared remote sensing images of Mars and other objects. To know more, click here.
Expanding the habitable zone
The "habitable zone" around our sun or any other star is defined as the range of distances from the star where water could exist on a planet or moon. But - the concept of a habitable zone around a star is rooted in the assumption that surface life rules. Guess what: in the last 30 years, we have learned that much of the life on Earth exists in the subsurface. In fact, the conditions for the formation of life might be met there. What if surface life is the exception, not the rule? What if subsurface life actually rules? Want to know more? click Here
Exploration for economic minerals
Remote sensing and spectroscopy are valuable tools for discovery and characterization of mineral resources here on Earth. In addition, remote sensing helps mine operators to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental impact. I work with industry partners to search for new resources, refine understanding of existing deposits, and prepare for a sustainable future through responsible practice and planning.