The Earth and Planetary Materials and Processes group uses high-pressure, high-temperature experiments, studies of natural samples, and dynamical models to understand the formation and evolution of planetary interiors and crusts. Our focus is the Earth and Moon; as of late we are working on the thermal histories of chondritic and primitive achondrite meteorites and the dynamics of Mercury’s magma ocean as well. You can learn more about our research here, and on Twitter @NickDygert.
1-20-20: The spring semester starts, Dygert is teaching a seminar called New Views of the Moon.
1-12-21: Four LPSC abstracts submitted to the 2021 meeting, three led by EPMP and one with collaborators at UT Austin.
1-10-21: Full page feature on our ordinary chondrite work in the January issue of Physics Today!
12-9-20: Paper on the significance of mantle exposures in the lunar South Pole Basin accepted in JGR-Planets!
12-3-20: Paper on pressure and Mg# dependence of ilmenite rheology accepted in JGR-Planets!
12-2-20: Media release on our study of ordinary chondrite parent asteroid thermal histories came out!
11-15-20: Dygert ran remote Paris-Edinburgh experiments at Argonne National Lab.
9-24-20: Megan Mouser earned her Concurrent Master’s! Megan started on the MS track and transitioned to the PhD in summer 2019. She submitted her Master’s project on Mercury’s magma ocean to JGR – Planets.
9-8-20: Postdoc Mike Lucas’ paper on the thermal histories of ordinary chondrites (OCs) was accepted in GCA! His work demonstrates that OC parent bodies were catastrophically fragmented at high temperature shortly after the formation of the Solar System, and then gravitationally reassembled to form rubble pile bodies.
8-1-20: Four abstracts submitted to AGU and GSA. First authors are Megan Mouser, Nadine Grambling and Mike Lucas, and our collaborators at UT Austin Jialong Ren and Marc Hesse.
6-30-20: PhD student Megan Mouser passed her preliminary exam. Congratulations, Megan!
6-26-20: Back in the lab! Beau Boring and Dygert put up a piston cylinder run exploring trace element partitioning in Mercurian systems.
6-25-20: Postdoc Mike Lucas submitted his manuscript on the high temperature thermal history of ordinary chondrites! Mike’s work shows that all three ordinary chondrite parent asteroids were catastrophically fragmented at high temperatures.
4-7-20: Dian Ji will be joining the group on the MS track this fall! Dian is currently an undergraduate at the China University of Petroleum, in Beijing. Dian recently authored an interesting paper on adakites. Welcome, Dian!
3-25-20: Manuscript on plagioclase-melt partitioning was accepted for publication in GCA! The paper includes predictive models for Eu partitioning as a function of oxygen fugacity, and a Eu-in-plagioclase-melt oxybarometer.
3-23-20: To combat COVID-19, UT transitioned to online teaching. So far so good!
3-9-20: Jesse Scholpp will be joining the group on the PhD track this fall! Jesse is currently an MS student at Utah State University working with John Shervais. Welcome, Jesse!
2-7-20: Dygert gave a colloquium in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago on the differentiation history of the Moon.
2-3-20: Nadine Grambling passed her qualifying exam!
1-8-20: The spring semester started. Dygert is teaching Exploring the Planets.
12-9-19: The EPMP group attended the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting! Mike Lucas, Nadine Grambling, Beau Boring and Dygert presented on current research. Dygert also convened the session Rates and Timescales of Magmatic and Dynamic Processes: Insights from Thermobarometry and Geospeedometry.
10-7-19: Dygert and Megan Mouser visited Argonne National Lab to run experiments! We measured the viscosity and structure of a Mercurian magma ocean analogue.
10-1-19: Manuscript accepted by JGR Solid Earth! This paper explores the possibility of a compacting cumulate pile at the boundary between Earth’s inner and outer core.
9-29-19: NASA proposal was selected! We will run melt-rock reaction and trace element partitioning experiments to explore lunar geodynamics using the compositions of basalts returned by the Apollo program.
9-19-19: Nadine visited Emily Chin’s lab at Scripps to characterize her rock deformation experiments using electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD).
8-28-19: Brandon Boring presented his research on the thermal history of Antarctic lithosphere at UTK’s Discovery Day.
8-20-19: Dygert was named the Larry and Dawn Taylor Assistant Professor of Planetary Geosciences!
8-1-19: Dygert took over as PI of UTK Space Grant. The program funds community outreach and planetary science and engineering research.
7-15-19: We ran our first successful piston cylinder experiment!
6-15-19: PhD student Nadine Grambling returned from a 6-week visit to Brown University, where she ran rock deformation experiments exploring the rheology of the lunar mantle.
6-1-19: Three undergraduates are conducting Space Grant funded summer research with the group! Brandon Boring is looking into the thermal history of lithosphere beneath Ross Island, Antarctica. Taryn Hicks is investigating the tectonic evolution of subcontinental mantle in southwest North America. Kenley Prescher will explore the effect of oxygen fugacity on Eu partitioning between lunar-relevant silicate minerals and melts.
4-25-19: Dygert received a Teaching Award from the UT Geoclub!
4-17-19: Undergraduate researcher Joseph Nuttall presented his work on deformed mantle xenoliths from Baja California at UT’s EURēCA symposium.
4-10-19: Article on lunar cumulate mantle overturn was accepted in JGR – Planets!
3-19-19: Mouser, Lucas and Dygert presented at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference!
3-1-19: UTK undergrad Joseph Nuttall and Dygert visited the CEMS lab at the University of South Carolina! We measured trace elements in mantle xenoliths from Baja California by LA-HR-ICP-MS.
1-29-19: Three abstracts from our group were accepted for presentation at LPSC! Megan Mouser (#2030): Mercury magma ocean liquid viscosity, Mike Lucas (#2495): Thermal history of chondrites, Dygert (#2798): Dynamic sinking of ilmenite-bearing cumulates during lunar magma ocean solidification.
1-10-19: Article on deformed mantle xenoliths from central Nevada was accepted! These xenoliths may directly sample an active Rayleigh-Taylor instability.
12-14-18: Grambling and Dygert presented their research at the AGU Fall Meeting in Washington DC. Nadine had a talk in the Oman Drilling Project session; Nick presented a poster on noble gas fractionation and an invited talk on deformed mantle xenoliths from the Great Basin.
10-22-18: Megan Mouser and Nadine Grambling conducted a successful round of viscometry experiments at Argonne National Lab.
10-9-18: Article on the Spongtang ophiolite was accepted! We place new constraints on the formation, age, and thermal history of this remote ophiolite in northwest India.
9-17-18: Postdoc Mike Lucas joined the group! Mike has a background in igneous petrology and astronomy and will be working on the thermal history of asteroids. Welcome, Mike!
9-7-18: NASA Solar System Workings proposal was selected! The grant will fund collaborative research with Hap McSween and Marc Hesse (UT Austin).
8-1-18: Dygert and Grambling traveled to Japan to participate in Oman Drilling Project core description activities aboard D/V Chikyu.
7-20-18: New paper on kinetic fractionation of noble gases in the mantle was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Check it out!
5-25-18: Dygert gave a seminar at Case Western Reserve University entitled Early Evolution of the Moon: New Insights from the Lab.
5-3-18: Warren Ehrenfried, Chris Wilson and Joseph Nuttall joined the group to participate in summer research experiences funded by the Tennessee Space Grant. They are working on P-T-stress conditions recorded by peridotite xenoliths from kimberlite pipes, decarbonation and shock metamorphism of Flynn Creek impact structure target rocks, and the thermal history of the mantle beneath western North America.
4-18-18: Dygert presented a talk for the ORION Science and Astronomy Group entitled Early Evolution of the Moon.
3-30-18: Dygert gave a seminar at the University of Georgia entitled New Insights into the Accretion of Oceanic Lithosphere.
3-23-18: Megan Mouser and Nick Dygert attended the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference to showcase their research. Megan presented a poster on a lunar granite and Nick gave a talk on the thermal history of the LL chondrite parent asteroid.
3-8-18: Dygert traveled to Oman and joined the Oman Drilling Project science party.
2-22-18: Graduate students Megan Mouser and Nadine Grambling ran a dozen successful high-P-T experiments in a Paris-Edinburgh apparatus at Argonne National Lab, investigating the viscosity and structure of a mercurian magma ocean melt.
1-23-18: Dygert visited the CNRS laboratory in Toulouse, France to serve on Mathieu Rospabé‘s PhD jury and to present a talk on the formation of oceanic lithosphere. Mathieu successfully defended his impressive thesis, congrats Mathieu!
12-15-17: Dygert presented two talks at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans. The talks focused on the petrogenesis of lunar basalts and dynamic history of the Moon, and the formation of mylonitic mantle xenoliths from central Nevada.
11-29-17: Two graduate students are joining the group this spring!
Nadine Grambling is a PhD student interested in tectonics and rock deformation. Nadine is an alumnus of the University of Arizona and the University of New Mexico, where she did an MS with Karl Karlstrom. Welcome Nadine!
Megan Mouser is an MS student interested in planetary geochemistry and petrology. Megan was an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico and more recently a Lunar and Planetary Institute summer intern and experimental petrologist at Johnson Space Center. Welcome Megan!
11-21-17: New research on the viscosity of the lunar magma ocean led by Dygert was published in Geophysical Research Letters, and featured in a press release put together by UT Austin! The study argues that the Moon’s earliest flotation crust would have been relatively impure.
9-19-17: NASA Solar System Workings grant was selected for funding! We will investigate the rheology and convective history of the lunar mantle with rock deformation experiments.
8-14-17: Dygert presented an invited talk at the Goldschmidt Meeting in Paris in the session Lithosphere Evolution during Subduction and Collision.
7-3-17: A study coauthored by Dygert on lunar mantle convection was published in Geophysical Research Letters. Informed by recent experimental results, we found that the lunar mantle would have been stably stratified after cumulate mantle overturn.
5-1-17: New research on cooling of the mantle beneath mid-ocean ridges led by Dygert was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The study was featured in a UT Austin media release! It argues that the mantle is cooled by hydrothermal circulation that extends all the way to the crust-mantle boundary beneath spreading centers.