Initial Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Nanoscience in the Earth and Environmental Sciences--From Theory to Practice

A Pre-Meeting Workshop in Association with the Goldschmidt 2018 Conference

Dates: August 11-12, 2018; Location: Boston, MA USA


David Mogk, Montana State University (USA); Michael Hochella, Virginia Tech/PNNL (USA); Jim Ranville, Colorado School of Mines (USA)

Workshop Overview

Nanoscience is a frontier area of research that provides abundant opportunities in many different scientific and engineering disciplines. Currently, the Earth and environmental sciences are underrepresented in their participation in this revolutionary field of study, which currently contributes to nano-enabled products worth roughly $2 trillion annually! There is currently an amazing arsenal of analytical methods that are available to characterize the identity, morphology, composition (bulk and surface), chemical state, atomic structure and related chemical and physical properties of nanoparticles, nanosheets and nanorods. This workshop will focus on practical aspects of using this instrumentation (e.g., AFM and Electron microscopy, surface analysis, fractionation methods, ICP-MS, light-scattering, among many others) in doing nanogeoscience. Topics to be covered include sample collection in the field, sample preparation/preservation, and instrumental data acquisition, reduction, and representation. The workshop will include invited presentations, group discussions, and hands-on demonstrations of modern software packages applied to authentic datasets. Instrument vendors will be invited to demonstrate their latest instruments directly, remotely, or in principal via detailed descriptions and demonstration of representative images and datasets. Participants are encouraged to bring examples of their own procedures and protocols to demonstrate to the group and receive feedback. Outcomes of this workshop will be an online "toolkit" of methods and procedures that will be available for use by the entire community in research and instruction. Opportunities to participate in the US National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure program will also be described.

Workshop Goals

  • Introduce the geoscience community to new advances and opportunities to do research in nanoscience.
  • Help participants stay current with data, tools, services, and research related to nanogeoscience and nanoenvironmental science.
  • Showcase modern instruments, software, and related methods used to sample, analyze, and characterize nanomaterials in Earth and Environmental Sciences.
  • Address the "big science questions" related to nanoscience: nanomaterials in the Earth system, impacts on biogeochemical processes, characterization of nanomaterials and their chemical properties at the nanoscale, impacts of nanomaterials (natural and incidental) on the environment and human health.
  • Consider ways to effectively teach about "what can't be seen" on the nano-scale; how can we introduce nanoscience across the geoscience curriculum? How can we best train future geoscientists to be prepared to do this exciting new research?
  • Build collaborations; develop research networks to facilitate nanoscience research in the Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Confirmed Presenters

We are pleased to present this list of colleagues who have agreed to share their expertise on nanoscience at the workshop via presentations, demonstrations, and interactions in small group discussions :

  • Manuel Caraballo (University of Chile) " mining contamination from a nanoscience perspective
  • Cynthia Hall (West Chester University, PA) " nanoparticles and soil contamination
  • Thilo Hofmann (University of Vienna/Duke Univ)--Single particle time-of-flight mass spectrometry as a new tool to investigate and distinguish natural and engineered nanoparticles
  • Bojeong Kim (Temple Univ.) " nanoparticles in soils, engineered environments, sample collection and preparation
  • George Luther (Univ. of Delaware) " nanoparticles in the ocean and related to aqueous geochemistry
  • Mitsu Murayama (Virginia Tech) " characterization of nanoparticles using TEM and electron spectroscopies
  • Alberto Perez-Huerta (Univ. of Alabama) " nanomineralogy using atomic probe tomography
  • Jim Ranville (Colorado School of Mines) " characterization of single nanoparticles, nanomineralogy, geochemistry, and mining contaminant sites
  • Michael Schindler (Laurentian University, Canada )" nanopetrology, contaminant nanogeochemistry

Vendors who will demonstrate Products

  • Perkin Elmer
  • Agilent

Who Should Attend

We welcome all colleagues who are nano-curious: Active researchers who would like to share their methods and results and obtain community feedback; geoscientists who would like to learn more about nanoscience and how they can participate; researchers who are looking to join information networks, initiate collaborative research or gain access to nanoscience facilities; faculty who would like to teach about nanoscience in their mineralogy, petrology or geochemistry courses; graduate students, post-docs, geoscience industry and government-based professionals....

Workshop Program and Format

This workshop will include a series of invited short lectures, interactive panel discussions, and small working groups to investigate many dimensions of nanoscience in the Earth and environmental sciences. The workshop will be as interactive as possible, and we plan to schedule a "share fair" where participants can demonstrate their methods, instruments, software, or preliminary results to obtain feedback and suggestions for future work, and we are inviting numerous instrument/software/database vendors to demonstrate their products so that participants can get practical, hands-on experience with these resources. Participants will have access to our growing online resources on nanoscience in the Earth and environmental sciences; will have the opportunity to contribute ideas and resources to the workshop program and related collections; and will be encouraged to participate in continuing networked user groups to further develop nanoscience resources for use by the community


The goal of this workshop is to support participants in designing or improving research and teaching activities that they will use to engage nanoscience at their home institutions. To this end participants are expected to:

  • In advance of the workshop, familiarize themselves with the resources and information available on the workshop website.
  • During the workshop, develop and contribute research ideas and/or classroom activities that they will use to engage nanoscience in the upcoming year.
  • In the year following the workshop, implement the research or teaching activities you've designed, and participate in follow-on discussions via the workshop listserv.
  • To optimize workshop outcomes, participants are encouraged to participate in all workshop activities, including pre-workshop preparations, scheduled workshop sessions, online discussions and small group work, and follow-on activities.

Registration and Cost

Please use the Goldschmidt Registration form to register for this workshop and for the Goldschmidt Conference. The workshop registration fee is set by the Goldschmidt Conference organizers and will be paid as part of your meeting registration. The registration fee is $140 for the two day workshop, and includes box lunches and morning and afternoon snacks. We have reserved space for 60 participants so please register early!


This workshop is sponsored by the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure program, supported with funds from the National Science Foundation (USA). Contributing projects are the Montana Nanotechnology Facility (MONT, Montana State University; NSF Grant 1542210), and Virginia Tech National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth; NSF Grant 1542100). This workshop is also sponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.


Please contact David Mogk (, Michael Hochella (, or Jim Ranville (

Tomographic image of a small aggregate of 30 nm hematite crystals, with 5 nm diameter tubes running through the crystals shown in green. Video courtesy of Michael Hochella, Virginia Tech.

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