Home arrow About arrow COMPRES Distinguished Lecturer Series 2010-2011
COMPRES Distinguished Lecturer Series 2010-2011

Objectives: Since 2008-2009, COMPRES has sponsored a distinguished lecture series in the field of mineral physics. As an important outreach activity for COMPRES, the series promotes a better understanding of the nature and outstanding achievements of geoscience research in the early 21stcentury. The talks feature topics that emphasize the exciting high-pressure geoscience research being conducted within the COMPRES community and its significance for understanding fundamental Earth and planetary processes. The primary target audience for these lectures is undergraduates in departments of geology and related sciences at 4-year colleges. With these talks we seek to (1) inform our colleagues in geosciences and related sciences about how high-pressure research is contributing to the understanding of Earth processes, (2) encourage undergraduates to become interested in research opportunities within the COMPRES community.


2010-2011 Speakers:  We are pleased to announce that the COMPRES Distinguished Lecturers for 2010-2011 are Wendy Panero of the Ohio State University and James van Orman of Case Western Reserve University. Their lecture titles, full abstracts and short bios are given below.


Wendy Panero    The Ohio State University

(1) The New Mineralogy and Chemistry of the Earth’s Core

(2) Water Cycling and Storage in the Earth’s Deep Interior


James van Orman   Case Western Reserve University

 (1) Chemistry at the Core-Mantle Boundary

 (2) Diffusion in Earth’s Deep Interior: Insights from High-Pressure Experiments


Details: For the 2010-2011 academic year, COMPRES will fund all travel costs, including transportation, accommodation and meals, for the speaker. There is no cost to the hosting institutions. There are two Distinguished Lecturers; each will givelectures at three or four institutions during the academic year. The host colleges or universities will be expected to arrange the talks, advertise them broadly on campus, and provide local logistical support. Talks feature topics that emphasize theexciting high-pressure geoscience research being conducted within the COMPRES community and its significance for understanding fundamental Earth and planetary processes. The primary target audience for these lectures is undergraduates in departments of geology and all related disciplines in science and engineering at 4-year colleges, but applications from all academic institutions in the U. S are welcome.


How to request a COMPRES Distinguished Lecturer: If your institution is interested in requesting a visit, please send your request to Jay Bass at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Jay Bass [ This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ]. The Lecture Program is designed to run from September 2010 through May 2011. Lecturer requests received by August 30, 2010 will be given priority. Later applications will be considered on a space-available basis. In making your request please include:


1.     The name of a contact person at your institution for the months of June to August.  This is when schedules will be assembled.

2.     Contact e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

3.     Lecturer preference (note that we cannot guarantee your first choice).

4.     Preferred semester and/or month for the visit, including any flexibility in your schedule. 

5.     Airport proximity and travel time to your institution.


Spread the Word: Please bring this opportunity to the attention of the colloquium organizers at your home institutions and, especially, encourage colleagues at 4-year institutions to apply to host one of these lecture visits.  Details of the application process are given above.

Charge to speakers: (1) First and foremost, talk about exciting science using language understandable by a broad audience. (2) Be forward-looking and examine upcoming challenges and opportunities. (3) Include information about COMPRES facilities and activities and how they enable expanding opportunities for geoscientists, for example, using shared resources such as synchrotron beam-lines.


History of the COMPRES Distinguished Lecture Series: This initiative was developed by J. Michael Brown, former member of the Executive Committee, who organized the program and led the selection of the Distinguished Lecturers for the first year (2008-2009) of this program (Wendy Mao of Stanford University and David Walker of ColumbiaUniversity).  Carl Agee led the effort in 2009-10 (Distinguished Lecturers Jie (Jackie) Li (University of Illinois) and Harry Green (UC Riverside)).  Jim Tyburczy coordinated the effort for 2010-11 with Distinguished Lecturers Wendy Panero (Ohio State) and James van Orman (Case Western). 


On behalf of the Executive Committee of COMPRES


2009-2010 Distinguished Lectures | 2008-2009 Distinguished Lectures

 Bios and Abstracts of Talks


Wendy Panero Ohio State University

Who will offer lectures on

(1) The New Mineralogy and Chemistry of the Earth’s Core


(2) Water Cycling and Storage in the Earth’s Deep Interior


Wendy Panero received her BS in Physics at Harvey Mudd College in 1997 and her PhD in Geophysics at University of California, Berkeley, in 2001 with an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.  She was a Turner Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Michigan before joining the faculty at Ohio State University in 2005, and currently holds and NSF CAREER award.  Her research interests center on the application of experimental and theoretical methods to discern the state and evolution of deep planetary processes.

Abstracts for talks by Wendy Panero

Title 1: The New Mineralogy and Chemistry of the Earth’s Inner Core

Understanding the evolution of the Earth’s interior requires knowledge of the mineralogy, temperature and viscosity of the Earth’s inner core. Recent seismic results showing significant yet heterogeneous seismic anisotropy for the inner core suggest that it is undergoing a dynamic process of unknown origin.


This talk presents new methods for measuring transport properties under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions of the Earth’s core, combining synchrotron-based X-ray experiments at high pressure and temperature with post-run focused-ion beam milling and transmission electron microscopy. Combined with models for texture evolution in metals, the mechanism by which the inner core develops and maintains anisotropy appears to be a combination of preferential growth in equatorial regions combined with solid-state deformation in response to mass variations in the Earth’s mantle.


Title 2: Water Cycling and Storage in the Earth’s Deep Interior


Earth is the water planet, with 70% of the surface covered by water and accounting for 0.025% of the mass of the planet. The degree to which water is distributed and stored at depth throughout the mantle, however, remains largely unconstrained. Yet water even in amounts as low as 100’s of ppmw has a great influence on almost all of the physical and chemical properties of earth materials including melting, viscosity, seismic velocities, and electrical conductivity. The major minerals of the lower mantle are able to store much less water (10’s of ppmw) than those of the upper mantle (thousands of ppmw). This difference requires either a physical or chemical barrier to mass flux between the two reservoirs or a change in the dominant mode of water storage between the upper and lower mantle.


This talk combines high-pressure and temperature experimental measurements with theoretical computations to clarify the underlying physical and chemical processes responsible for variations in seismic wave speeds, viscosity, and electrical conductivity in the mantle as a consequence of water at depth.





James van Orman Case Western Reserve University


Who will offer lectures on:

(1) Chemistry at the Core-Mantle Boundary


(2) Diffusion in Earth’s Deep Interior: Insights from High-Pressure Experiments


Jim Van Orman is Associate Professor of Geological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.  He received his BS from Florida State University (1994), PhD from MIT (2000), and was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 2000 to 2002. 


Abstracts for talks by James van Orman


Title 1: Chemistry at the core-mantle boundary

Earth differentiated into a metallic core and silicate mantle very early in its history. Although the differentiation process is thought to have been essentially completed at that time, a persistent question is whether there has been any exchange of material across the core-mantle boundary during Earth’s subsequent evolution.  Outer core materials may have a distinct geochemical signature that could, if identified in mantle-derived materials, help settle long-standing geodynamic questions regarding the origins of mantle plumes.  On the other hand, transfer of mantle materials across the core mantle boundary into the core may have a substantial impact on the inventory of light elements in the outer core, heat transfer throughout the Earth and the geodynamo.

This talk will discuss experiments that address the rates of chemical exchange across the core-mantle boundary, and the geochemical fingerprints that core materials might leave in the mantle.


Title 2:  Diffusion in Earth’s deep interior: Insights from high-pressure experiments

The random hopping of atoms from site to site within minerals underlies a wide range of important geological processes, from the resetting of isotopic clocks to the gradual deformation of minerals that enables mantle convection.  Rates of hopping—or diffusion—depend strongly on temperature and pressure, which usually act in opposition.  Determining diffusion rates in minerals at the extreme pressures and temperatures of Earth’s deep interior is a formidable challenge.  This talk will discuss progress in making experimental diffusion measurements at pressures as great as 30 GPa and temperatures as high as 2500 K, and what these tell us about the rheology of the mantle and core, and chemical heterogeneity in the mantle.