Brendt C. Hyde, Mineralogy Technician will be presenting at the upcoming ROM Research Colloquium – join us on February 3 at 4:30pm in the Signy & Cléophée Eaton Theatre to hear more about The Study of Meteorites – Science versus Conservation.
What are you going to talk about at the colloquium this year?
I am going to discuss how the mineralogy department at the ROM uses non-destructive analytical techniques to study meteorites in its collection. Meteorites are rare, expensive and contain a wealth of information about our solar system. Working with these rocks, especially in a museum setting, requires scientists to weigh the benefits of studying these objects versus conserving them. Meteorites are generally studied using cut sections. The cutting is destructive and only exposes a small area. We have started using techniques including medical micro-CT imaging and micro-Raman spectroscopy that are non-destructive. Don’t worry I will explain these techniques as painlessly as possible in my talk. Micro-CT can be used to get a 3D view of a meteorite’s interior – think of this as a 3D X-ray. Using a micro-Raman spectrometer, recently acquired by the mineralogy department at the ROM, can give a view of the minerals present – think of this as using a laser to scan a mineral for its “fingerprint”. This can be done on large and/or fragile samples.
How did you first become interested in this topic?
I have always been interested in space, planets and meteorites. I received degrees in planetary science and geology and have spent most of my research career studying minerals found on the planet Mars. When I arrived at the ROM two years ago, studying meteorites seemed like a natural and exciting next step. I have been a collector of things since grade school and I have always had a compulsion to keep my collections as pristine as possible. I guess this has extended into my career. I strive to get as much as I can from the ROM’s collection with doing the minimal amount of damage possible. Some destruction is inevitably required for interesting samples, but this talk will show that a lot can be gained from non-destructive work.
What part of your research do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy using the new analytical equipment in mineralogy to analyze meteorites in the collection. Shooting lasers and X-rays at rocks from space… I can’t imagine a job more fun than that!
Do you have a favourite artifact or specimen?
I don’t think I have a single favorite specimen, but all of the martian meteorites are definitely near the top of my list.
Want to learn more? The ROM Research Colloquium is a forum for ROM Researchers to present on their latest research and discoveries. This full day of consecutive 15-minute presentations is free and open to the public (Museum admission not included).