lunes, 6 de junio de 2011

Letter from the SEM President published in Elements Magazine

It is an honour for me to chair the Sociedad Española de Mineralogía. As I take over the leadership, I am happy to see that the Society is in excellent condition. The last annual meetings of the Society have been very successful in terms of participation and debate. Also, the Society’s publications, Macla and Seminarios, have achieved a remarkable level of quality. In addition, my predecessors have succeeded in connecting the SEM with other scientific societies, especially through participation in the European Journal of Mineralogy and Elements.

The success of a scientific society is based on the generous dedication of its members. At this moment, I want to thank our colleagues for the effort they have made and congratulate them sincerely. The new team will try to continue the task of promoting mineralogy, petrology and geochemistry, both in our country and through international collaborations.

In a context of economic recession like the one we are now going through in Spain, strong public support to basic science is not to be expected. Traditional issues, such as clays, mineral deposits and heritage conservation, are well developed in our Society and will quite predictably carry on. However, we must pay attention to new fields of application which have appeared in recent years and which portend future activity. In our last Society meetings we have learned how industry and medicine are continually developing nano- and biomaterials, often based on nature’s structures, where mineralogy plays a relevant and inspiring role.

Environment is no doubt the field with the highest level of activity and in which mineralogy and geochemistry make outstanding contributions. The study and evolution of atmospheric particulate matter, as well as water and soil contamination and their remediation, are fields in which mineral stability and water–gas–mineral interactions are decisive. Although the Spanish government has abandoned plans for a geological repository of radioactive waste, there is still plenty of urban and industrial waste repositories where controlling clay and cement mineralogy and the interaction of these materials with water is essential to ensure water-tightness. As in many other countries, CO2 deep-injection tests in saline formations have been started here.

Once more, mineralogy and geochemistry are highly relevant, not only for understanding the ultimate mineralization of carbon as carbonates, but also to forecast the impact of mineral dissolution/precipitation on hydraulic properties, which is key to injection and storing. As a result, in times of economic difficulties, numerous opportunities still exist, which can lead to high-quality research in mineralogy. We must keep on sharpening our wits.

Carlos Ayora, SEM President
The original text has been published in Elements, 7-2 (April 2011), p. 134

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