EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Unraveling the secrets of the Earth through nanogeology: A correlative microscopy approach

Renelle Dubosq1,2, David Schneider2, Anna Rogowitz3, and Baptiste Gault1,4
Renelle Dubosq et al.
  • 1Microstructure Physics and Alloy Design, Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany (
  • 2Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
  • 3Geology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 4Materials, Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London, London, UK

Correlative analytical approaches involving high-spatial resolution microscopy techniques allow for the compositional measurements and spatial imaging of materials at the near-atomic scale. By combining electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) mapping, electron channeling contrast imaging (ECCI), scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and atom probe tomography (APT) on various geological materials such as minerals and glasses, we have successfully documented element mobility regulated by structural defects. Although these techniques were initially developed in the materials sciences, they are now being applied to a broad range of applications within many subdisciplines of geosciences including geochemistry, geochronology, and economic geology. In one set of experiments, we applied a correlative approach on naturally deformed pyrite from an orogenic gold mine in northern Canada to assess the impact of crystal-plastic deformation on the remobilization of trace elements. This study has led us to propose a new paragenetic model for metallic ore deposits in which deformation creates nanostructures that act as traps for base- and precious-metals. By applying our approach on pyrite that is rich with fluid inclusions, we have also documented two processes that led to proposing a new fluid inclusion-induced hardening model, which is in contrast to the more commonly reported weakening effect of fluids on minerals. To broaden the applications of our approach, we have applied the same suite of analytical techniques to a synthetic andesitic glass to assess whether nanoscale chemical heterogeneities can act as nucleation sites for gas bubbles. The combined results demonstrate the existence of nanoscale chemical heterogeneities within the melt and at the bubble-melt interface supporting the hypothesis that homogeneous nucleation could in fact be a variety of heterogeneous nucleation. The interactions between trace elements and structural defects plays a vital role in determining the mechanical properties of minerals, particularly in fluid-rich environments. These sub-nanometer scale exchanges consequently control meso- to tectonic-scale geological processes. Our research work not only demonstrates the latest advancements in analytical microscopy resolving long-standing geological problems but also brings us closer to bridging the gap between the fields of materials sciences and geosciences.

How to cite: Dubosq, R., Schneider, D., Rogowitz, A., and Gault, B.: Unraveling the secrets of the Earth through nanogeology: A correlative microscopy approach, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1186,, 2022.