|Overview and Role|
COMPRES is a community-based consortium whose goal is to enable Earth Science researchers to conduct the next generation of high-pressure science on world-class equipment and facilities. It facilitates the operation of beam lines, the development of new technologies for high pressure research, and advocates for science and educational programs to the various funding agencies
The goal of COMPRES is to enable Earth Science researchers to conduct the next generation of high-pressure science on world-class equipment and facilities. COMPRES does not fund research projects, rather it works to ensure that projects can be conducted. Individual research projects or collaborative research projects, such as the Grand Challenges for Rheology and Elasticity, are formally independent from the COMPRES core grant; however, they are intimately related intellectually as they give prime examples of the scientific problems that can be addressed using the facilities operated and the infrastructure developed by COMPRES.
COMPRES works to enhance the access to appropriate resources and infrastructure that exceed those available to the individual researcher. With a broad user base, this organization is facilitating the next generation of science where resources and infrastructural needs exceed those available to the individual researcher.
Research in mineral physics is essential for interpreting observational data from many other disciplines in the Earth Sciences, from geodynamics to seismology to geochemistry to petrology to geomagnetism to planetary science, and extending also to materials science and climate studies, as illustrated in an EOS article “The Future of High-Pressure Mineral Physics”, Oct 4, 2008 which can be found at: http://www.compres.stonybrook.edu/Publications/RCL%20EOS%20MS/Published_article.pdf. The field of high-pressure mineral physics is highly interdisciplinary. Mineral physicists do not always study minerals nor use only physics; they study the science of materials which comprise the Earth and other planets and employ the concepts and techniques from chemistry, physics, materials science, and biology.
Such interdisciplinarity also has major international dimensions, with attendant synergistic and competitive aspects. A dramatic example of the international dimensions occurred during the past five years. In 2004, a new post-perovskite phase of MgSiO3 was discovered by in situ high-pressure experiments in Japan by Murakami et al. in 2004). The importance of this discovery for the deep earth was immediately recognized by the mineral physics communities on 3 continents, leading to rapid experimental confirmation and theoretical (first-principles) exploration, including European and US contributions. These developments had immediate and profound impacts on multidisciplinary studies of the deep mantle of the Earth [see feature article by Lay et al in the January 4, 2005 issue of EOS].
The ability to the US mineral physics community to respond immediately to the post-perovskite discovery was in large part a reflection of the success of COMPRES in greatly expanding the size, breadth and technical capabilities of the US high-pressure community which now competes on equal footing with the Japanese and Europeans who had a considerable jump on this country at the time of the birth of COMPRES.
Indeed, the successes flowing from the rapid growth of COMPRES are already feeding back into the international community: (a) the mineral physics community of France is currently organizing itself along the lines of COMPRES because of the success of the “grass-roots’ structure of COMPRES. [P. Raterron et al: “Presse Instrument National couplée au Synchrotron-PINS”]; and (b)B. Winker et al. in Germany, scientists in Earth Sciences, Materials Science and Solid State Chemistry have obtained funding for a Priority Program of the Deutsches Forschung Gemeinschaft [“Strukturen und Eigenschaften von Kristallen bei extreme hohen Drücken und Temperaturen”].
On a somewhat longer time scale, the field of high-pressure earth and planetary sciences has changed dramatically over the past decade. Increasingly sophisticated tools are being used to investigate the properties of matter under the extreme pressure and temperature conditions of the Earth and other planetary interiors. As a prime example, the capabilities of modern synchrotron and neutron sources have presented enormous opportunities for new types of experimentation at high pressure. In parallel with these advances in large, centralized facilities, new types of high-pressure devices, of both the diamond-anvil and multi-anvil types, have been developed to take advantage of them. Similar progress has been achieved in the computational power for calculations of mineral properties, and new facilities to perform neutron scattering studies at high pressure are emerging. As a result, it is now possible to do experiments and perform simulations that were not dreamed of 10 years ago.
Many of these exciting advances and prospects for the future have been described in the report "Current and Future Research Directions in High-Pressure Mineral Physics", which can be found at: http://www.compres.stonybrook.edu/Publications/BassReport/Bass_Report_8_31_04.pdf
At the request of and funding from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences, COMPRES organized a Workhsop on Long Rlanning for High Pressure Earth Sciences in Tempe, Arizona from March 2-4, 2009. See details at: compres.us and http://www.compres.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=61&Itemid=123
At the onset of the 21st century, mineral physicists find themselves with many challenging research problems and many exciting opportunities for research at high pressures and temperatures, made possible in large measure by the COMPRES-facilitated access to synchrotron and neutron facilities at the national laboratories of the Department of Energy. To exploit such technologies to pursue research in the Earth Sciences required a change in the culture of high-pressure experimental research. Until recently, the “cottage industry” model served as the primary mode of operation: a scientist worked with a few students and/or postdocs, together in a laboratory at their home institution.