Ralph Harvey

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GeneralĀ Topics:


Planetary Materials



Aeolian sediments
South pole water well
STARDUST samples
BIT-58 and impact debris studies
New sources

Martian meteorites

Mineralogy and petrology
Secondary minerals
Their place on Mars and in martian history

“Ordinary” Meteorites

Mineralogy and petrology
Parent body history
“ancient” falls in the rock record
Statistical studies of modern falls and finds and concentration mechanisms

Analogs to Martian materials

Earth rocks resembling martian meteorites
Earth rocks and secondary minerals produced under Mars-like conditions
Simulating martian weathering and/or mass wasting processes

Planetary Remote Sensing



Relating remotely determined mineralogy to volcanic behavior
Identifying potential mars meteorite parent craters
Regional to highly localized geological mapping and feature analysis.

Other Studies

The recent history of the East Antarctic icesheet as revealed by…

ice chemistry
ice movement
cosmogenic exposure ages
ice/rock interactions

Exploring the geochemical and climatological limits of biological activity

Statistical modeling of particle breakage, movement and recovery

The petrology and mineral chemistry of “primitive” ancient terrestrial igneous rocks

The general petrology and mineral chemistry of mafic and ultramafic plutonic rocks

Meteorite recovery in polar regions, including

Antarctica (ANSMET, the US Antarctic Meteorite Program).

Research Currently in Progress


Graduate Student Justin Kennedy and I are studying the Ferrar Dolerite, a basaltic intrusive outcropping throughout the Transantarctic Mountains, as a possible analog for the Shergottite martian meteorites. By exploring the mineralogical, geochemical and physical weathering characteristics of the Ferrar we will evaluate the ways that understanding this rock can illuminate the basaltic rocks of Mars.

Graduate Student Kathy Huwig and I are comparing Antarctic micrometeorites collected using two distinct methods; aeolian micrometeorites, collected from natural traps downwind of Antarctic blue ice fields, and micrometeorites collected by melting large volumes of the icesheet artificially. Through careful comparision of the texture, mineralogy and geochemistry of these specimens we hope to understand the subtle differences that can arise from very subtle differences in collection history.

Graduate Student Dejun Tan and I are beginning a project to understand the recent history of the Miller Range meteorite stranding surfaces. Using a variety of standard glaciological techniques, such as ice movement networks, meteorological monitoring, ice chemistry, and cosmogenic exposure ages from exposed local bedrock, we hope to understand how changes in local iceflow over the past tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years may have influenced the development of this meteorite stranding surface.

Undergraduate Student Jason Kodysz and I are studying a unique curvilinear feature seen in the Cahokia panorama taken by the MER Spirit Rover. Several characteristics of this feature suggest that may be a hydraulically-supported mass-wasting feature. Through careful study of images and modelling of the many possible ways this feature may have formed (wet, dry, frozen, etc.) we hope to determine the most likely origin for the feature.

Undergraduate Student Ashley Baer and I are undertaking an experimental study that comparing the trace organics produced by biological and abiological methane production. Reaction chambers with a simulated martian soil composition, brine and CO2 atmosphere will be heated to stimulate methane production either by cultured anaerobic bacteria or serpentinization; samples of this fluid will be analysed for long-chain organics that might be useful markers for separating the two distinct processes.

Over the past several years I’ve been studying the Syrtis Major volcanic complex on Mars as a possible ultramafic complex and source of the Nakhlite martian meteorites. Careful study of spectroscopy, geomorphology and imagery suggest these possible ties. A paper is currently in progress.

I have suggested several possible landing sites for the Mars Science Laboratory mission to Mars, a high-powered rover due to launch in 2009. Each of these sites is currently being categorized in detail, using images and spectroscopy, and these details will then be presented at a series of workshops that will ultimately lead to one primary landing site for the mission.

Other research projects are always hiding in dark places. Don’t hesitate to ask!

Page last modified: June 22, 2016