Mineral and planetary sciences

A close look at the Pallasite meteorite with light shining through cystals

Pallasite meteorite © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Researchers in the mineral and planetary sciences division are investigating the fundamental geological processes that shape our planet and the solar system.

Volcanology and petrology research

We are investigating active volcanoes and other volcanic areas to better understand the genesis and evolution of magmas and the timescales of pre-eruptive magmatic processes.

Popocatépetl volcano, Mexico

Large stratovolcanoes like Popocatépetl can switch from low or moderate eruptive behaviour to catastrophic Plinian eruptions.

Carbonatites from Calatrava in Spain

Using petrology and geochemistry to investigate the magma production processes taking place under Earth's surface in Calatrava, Spain.

The origin of adakites

Investigating the occurrence of adakite rocks and their relationship to the melting of the subducted plate, a process known as slab melt. 

Stromboli volcano, Italy

Investigating the dynamics of explosive eruptions at Stromboli volcano, Italy, with a particular focus on its last 5,000 years of activity.

Post-magmatic processes in carbonatitic systems

Investigating the mineralisation and fluid processes that occur in carbonatitic magmas in the Chilwa Alkaline Province of Malawi and the potential for extracting precious elements.

Mafic and ultramafic rocks in southern Mexico

Exploring the geodynamics of mafic and ultramafic rock complexes in southern Mexico and the economic potential for their exploitation.

Mantle evolution of southern Patagonia

Unravelling the evolution of mantle rocks in southern Patagonia to learn more about the continental separation of South America and Antarctica.

Extraterrestrial materials research

Current research projects explore the origins and evolution of the Sun, planets, the Moon, asteroids and comets.  

Asteroids

Studying chondrite meteorites in our collection to learn about conditions in the early solar system and the processes that formed the planets.

The changing Sun

Studying data from ground and satellite-based instruments to better understand current solar activity.

The Moon

Studying lunar meteorites and Apollo samples to learn more about the origin and early evolution of the Moon.  

Comets

Studying cometary material collected by NASA's Stardust spacecraft to learn about the bodies' formation and evolution.

Micrometeorites

Using micrometeorites to explore atmospheric composition and climate change through geological time.

Mineral sciences research

We are investigating the effects of atomic scale phenomena on the properties of minerals.

Atomic-scale phenomena

Using a range of techniques to characterise new minerals and investigate their potential for use in materials science.

Opportunities

Undertake professional and postgraduate training in mineral and planetary sciences. 

Core research labs

Our research lab teams are available for complex on-site imaging and analysis of biological and geological samples.

Mineral collection

One of the most important and comprehensive collections of its type in the world. 

Meteorite collection

One of the finest meteorite collections in the world, with specimens from the Moon and Mars.

Rock collection

Our huge rock collection records the growing understanding of the geological processes that shape Earth.