Geological research

My research has two aspects: 

The characterization of clay minerals and related layer silicates, particularly the modulated layer silicates.

Scanning electron micrograph of halloysite; a clay mineral formed of tubes almost 100 times finer than a human hair. This whole picture is of a patch of halloysite only about one hundredth of a millimeter wide.

Another, and very different fibrous mineral is antigorite, a form of asbestos. This image shows that such fibres can split into ever finer needles. If they lodge in the lungs they can cause mesothelioma, a form of cancer.
The understanding of mineral weathering and the way rocks become soil - the evolution of the regolith.

My recent research has been done with friend and colleague Professor Graham Taylor. We have focused on the formation of bauxite in the region of New South Wales between Tarago and Taralga. These are small deposits formed through the weathering of basalt lavas that flowed down valleys about 45 million years ago.

A slab of bauxite from the southern Highlands of New South Wales.  The brown particles are called pisoliths; they average 4 mm in diameter, are magnetic and are composed of aluminium and iron oxides.

A scanning electron micrograph of bauxite from the Southern Highlands. The white round particles are similar to those shown above, but ten times smaller. They form the material between the pisoliths. Grey particles marked 'Q' are grains of quartz sand.

Two recent conference abstracts about bauxite are: