I am interested in planetary geology, and my PhD project will focus on testing neutron techniques to study geological materials such as meteorites.
Neutron tomography in planetary science
Neutron tomography has great potential within the field of planetary geology (and geological sciences in general) as it offers a non-destructive method to study precious materials. These could be meteorites or impactites ("impactite" is a general category of rock types formed or modified by impact cratering processes). Together with x-ray tomography it also enables a bi-modal approach to study rare or precious geological materials since x-rays and neutrons gives complementary information about light and heavy elements. Tomographic methods further give three-dimensional information of the distribution of elements and structures within the rock. In contrast to x-rays, neutron tomography can to date only be performed at a limited number of facilities. With the European Spallation Source (ESS), the city of Lund in Sweden will accommodate the world’s highest performing spallation source.
Around 190 impact craters have been documented on the Earth, but when looking at other planetary bodies in our solar system it becomes evident that collisions in space is and has been the most common (and violent?) geological process in our solar system. Collisions with the Earth have greatly contributed to forming our geological history, not only as it has scarred the surface of the Earth, it has also had a large influence on the ecosystem. Meteorites can be divided into several classes, from dense iron meteorites to so called carbonaceous chondrites, a meteorite type that contains carbon. Little is known about what type of meteorites have hit the Earth, and one possible way to find out is to locate meteoritic material in rocks within the impact crater and analyse the content. To do this, the idea is to use neutron- and x-ray tomography as a first step in examining the material in situ.
The first project will target so called Libyan Desert Glass, a type of glass that has been found in the Libyan Desert. It is assumed of being the result of a meteorite explosion about 28 million years ago, and previous studies have indicated that some of these glasses contain meteoritic components.