The overwhelming majority of Earth’s interior is not accessible to direct sampling or observation. Most of our understanding is based on remote sensing techniques (e.g., seismology). To interpret such observations, it is essential to have complimentary laboratory measurements. In our High-Pressure Mineral Physics Laboratory, we have an interdisciplinary program involving a variety of experimental and theoretical approaches. We seek an understanding of Earth based on an atomic-level understanding of constituent minerals. The underlying goal is an understanding of the thermal and compositional state of the Earth’s interior and its contribution to observed dynamical behavior. Current high pressure/high temperature work includes:
- measurement of elastic constants and thermal diffusivities of mineral under mantle conditions,
- studies of equations of state and viscosities of fluids, and
- measurements of elastic constants of metals under conditions approaching Earth’s core. These data provide a comprehensive framework for the understanding of how Earth and other planets work.