Environmental mineralogy and geochemistry is an interdisciplinary field dealing with systems at, or near, the surface of the Earth where the geosphere comes into contact with the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. This is the ’environment’ on which plants and animals (including humans) depend for survival and which can be disrupted by human activity, particularly that associated with exploitation and utilization of Earth’s resources. It deals with those systems containing minerals that constitute key environments (modern sediments, soils, atmospheric aerosols, parts of certain micro and macro organisms including the human body). Both pure systems and those contaminated through human activities are considered, and with emphasis on a fundamental (predictive) understanding of such systems at scales which can range from molecular to global. The full armory of modern analytical, imaging, diffraction, spectroscopic and computer modeling techniques are employed. Examples of specific topics within the remit of environmental mineralogy and geochemistry include: release, transport and dispersal of toxic wastes from mining and industry (including the nuclear industry) and the safe containment of such wastes; mineral based atmospheric aerosols; minerals in the human body; geochemistry and human health; preservation of minerals and rocks in culturally important buildings and artefacts.
The recently established IMA Working Group on Environmental Mineralogy and Geochemistry (WGEMG) is seeking to promote this new field through organization of relevant sessions at international conferences, short courses, specialist publications, networking and an internet presence. The officers of the WGEMG and other scientists involved believe that mineralogy and geochemistry have a central role to play in the larger field of environmental science, and in tackling the many environmental problems faced by humanity in the 21st century.
A symposium was organized in 2009 during the Goldschmidt Conference by the WGEMG in honor of John Jambor, who died in January 2008. John was the former WGEMG Secretary (see the 2008 report of David Vaughan). Anne JB Thompson acts as the WGEMG Secretary since November 2008 and up to 2010.
Three new officers of the WGEMG were elected during the IMA General Meeting in Budapest, Tom Sato, Mihaly Postfai and Eva Valsami-Jones. A four year report was prepared by D. Vaughan which summs up the activity of the WGEMG since its creation.
Goldschmidt 2008 - "from Sea to Sky" (July 13-18) in Vancouver, Canada