Meeting Information

Earth's co-evolving geosphere and biosphere: A mineral evolution perspective

November 16, 2022

Date: November 16, 2022
Title: Earth's co-evolving geosphere and biosphere: A mineral evolution perspective
Speaker: Robert M. Hazen, Senior Scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Robinson Professor of Earth Science, Emeritus, at George Mason University
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada); Zoom session starts at 12:00 p.m.

Abstract: The story of Earth is a 4.5-billion-year saga of dramatic transformations, driven by physical, chemical, and biological processes. Sequential changes of terrestrial planets and moons are best preserved in their rich mineral record. Earth's “mineral evolution,” began with a score of different mineral species that formed in the cooling envelopes of exploding stars. Dust and gas from those stars clumped together to form our stellar nebula; the nebula formed the Sun and countless planetesimals. Alteration of planetesimals by water and heat resulted in the 300 minerals found today in meteorites that fall to Earth. Earth’s evolution progressed by a sequence of chemical and physical processes, which ultimately led to the origin-of-life. Once life emerged, mineralogy and biology co-evolved, as changes in the chemistry of oceans, the atmosphere, and the crust dramatically increased Earth’s mineral diversity to the more than 5800 species known today. The co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere will be discussed.

Biography: Robert M. Hazen, received the B.S. and S.M. in geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Ph.D. at Harvard University in Earth science. He is the author of more than 450 articles and 25 books on science, history, and music, his recent book The Story of Earth (Viking-Penguin) was finalist in the Royal Society and Phi Beta Kappa science book competitions. Hazen has been recipient of numerous awards, including the 2021 IMA Medal, the 2016 Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America, and the 2012 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award. In 2020 he was elected Foreign Member of the Russian National Academy of Sciences. The biomineral “hazenite” was named in his honor. Since 2008, Hazen and his colleagues have explored “mineral evolution” and “mineral ecology”—new approaches that exploit large and growing mineral data resources to understand the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere.

View some images representing stages of Earth history.

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