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    Ronald C. Peterson & Alan H. Grant.


    Ronald C. Peterson graduated from the University of Western Ontario (B.Sc. Hon., 1975) where he attended his first course in mineralogy, taught by Brian Fryer. His honours thesis, 'Computer Interpretation of X-ray Diffraction Data,' was supervised by John Starkey. From 1975 to 1977 he studied with Gabrielle Donnay and J.D.H Donnay at McGill University and completed his M.Sc. thesis, "The Crystal Structure Refinement of a Sulfate-rich Scapolite," under the supervision of Don Francis. Ron completed his Ph.D. in 1980 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where he studied with Don Bloss and Paul Ribbe. His Ph.D. dissertation entitled, "Bonding in Minerals: I. Charge Density of the Aluminosilicate Polymorphs and II. Molecular Orbital Studies of Distortions in Layer Silicates," was supervised by Gerry Gibbs. In 1980 Ron was appointed assistant professor at Queen’s University and assumed the teaching duties of Len Berry. In 2000, along with student Kim Gibbs, Ron built 500 rock and mineral kits and distributed them to Ontario schools to help teachers with the new Earth science curriculum. From 1999 to 2004, Ron was the director of Distance Education and Enrichment Programs at Queen’s and was responsible for bringing more than 4000 elementary and secondary school students to Queen’s each year for educational outreach programs. Recently Ron’s research has focused on the minerals that occur in mine waste and the properties and behaviour of these complex mineral systems. Ron and his students approach their research using a wide variety of experimental techniques and field observations. Ron and his wife JoAnne have three children currently studying at university.

    Alan H. Grant was born into a Canadian military family in Darlington, Co. Durham, England in 1952. After attending 13 different schools in Ontario, Germany and New Brunswick, he received his B.Sc. (1975) and M.Sc. (1978) degrees in geology from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario. His M.Sc. research involved melting relations in high-iron Archean basalts, under the supervision of Dr. P.L. Roeder. Alan subsequently spent several years in mineral exploration in western Canada before returning to Queen’s to obtain a B. Ed. He taught in Kingston area high schools for two years before returning to the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering at Queen’s as a research assistant in an exploration geochemistry research group. In 1990, the lure of employment as an analytical technician in the Hawley Laboratories at Queen’s was too great to resist, and he has been there ever since. Alan supervises the operation and maintenance of the XRD and SEM facilities in the department.


    The Hawley Medal is being presented to the authors of what is judged to be the best paper in volume 43 (2005) of The Canadian Mineralogist. It is awarded to Ronald C. Peterson and Alan H. Grant for their paper on 'Dehydration and crystallization reactions of secondary sulfate minerals found in mine waste: in situ powder-diffraction experiments' (pages 1171-1181).

    This paper is simply elegant. A new experimental method that has direct application to the study of mineral stability as a function of key environmental factors such as partial pressures of gaseous constituents and temperature is described. Careful observations and experimental reversals allowed the authors to define the controlling factors in rapid mineralogical transformations.

    Many aspects of mineral formation and phase transitions under near-surface conditions remain a terra incognita and, at the same time, the elusive El Dorado of environmental geochemistry. Phases expected to form under these conditions from Eh-pH diagrams, free-energy minimization algorithms and the like, may never materialize, or, worse yet, may materialize well outside their 'assigned' fields of stability. It is thus impossible to overestimate the value of observation and experiment designed to find those broken links between the material world and the realm of thermodynamic calculations, statistical analysis and computer simulations. Specifically, the real-time controlled-conditions monitoring of near-surface processes becomes a critical ingredient for any in-depth geochemical inquiry into the nature of these processes. This brief (but painstakingly detailed) paper opens up new avenues of experimental research in the field of environmental geochemistry. Not only does it lay the groundwork for future exciting discoveries, but it also creates a momentum for long-needed developments and innovations in analytical instrumentation and methodology. This device will have direct and immediate application to many aspects of environmental mineralogy.

    T. Kurtis Kyser, President


    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I am honored to accept the Hawley Medal for our paper describing the study of the dehydration and hydration of sulfate minerals by X-ray diffraction. I feel especially honored to be recognized from among the authors of many high-quality papers that were published in The Canadian Mineralogist in 2005.

    Al and I performed the in situ diffraction experiments described in the paper in the Hawley Laboratories of Bruce Wing, Miller Hall at Queen's University. Ed Hawley was a professor at Queen's University and Department Head of Mineralogy from 1930 to 1950 and Department Head of Geological Sciences from 1950 to 1962. He had a reputation as a stern, serious professor. Behind his back, the students referred to him as 'number eleven', indicating where they thought he belonged on the Mohs scale of hardness. Ed studied the geology of the mines in the Sudbury basin and the Geology department at Queen's has many suites of specimens from long-abandoned or exhausted mines that are used from time to time by scientists from academia and industry. As I sat at Len Berry's desk writing this acknowledgement, I wondered what Ed and Len would have thought of toda's research in the Hawley Labs. Ed and Len both spent their time studying sulfides and sulfosalts from mines around the world. The waste from all those mines has, in most cases, been left abandoned in tailings piles and ponds. In our experiments, we devised a method to study the sulfates that form in mine waste and to observe the reactions that occur with changes in temperature and humidity. These reactions can take place very quickly, and to study them systematically requires careful control of the environmental variables while measuring the diffraction spectra.

    In principle, the design of a chamber that fits on a diffractometer is straightforward. In practice, however, it is quite challenging. It took us countless modifications to construct a device that gave stable temperatures and humidity over a useful range of conditions, all the while giving good X-ray-diffraction spectra. The local hardware store supplied much of the material to construct the apparatus, and the zero-background plate is rotated by a motor scavenged from a LEGOTM Mindstorms robotic kit. Each evening, Al and I would be sure the computer control systems, the various pumps, gas and water lines, heaters and diffractometer collections routines were ready to go. For a while, almost every morning we arrived to find that some component had failed overnight. The joke became 'If we were NASA engineers, we would have been fired by now'. Perseverance paid off, and we finally developed a system that continues to give us important results. As I speak, NASA has two rovers traveling across the surface of Mars sending back all sorts of mineralogical data. NASA should be applauded for designing and operating such a complex successful mission. I can only imagine the skills that must be needed to be construct a device that functions so brilliantly on the surface of another planet. Thank you again for recognizing our attempts to 'boldly go where no mineralogist has gone before'.

    Ronald C. Peterson

    It is with humility and a great deal of surprise that I accept this award with Ron. It certainly is an unexpected and much-appreciated honor. My role was as software designer, plumber, LEGO motor mechanic, trouble shooter and sounding board. I'm pleased that I was able to contribute and appreciative that Ron saw fit to name me as coauthor.

    Interest in sulfate minerals that develop in the mine-waste environment has evolved from their collection as mineralogical exotica to their study from an environmental and mine remediation point of view. It's very gratifying to see this paper recognized for the innovative analytical techniques that were developed and their application to environmental mineralogy.

    In his congratulatory letter, Dan Kontak noted that the nominating panel was impressed with the simplicity and elegance of the paper. I have no doubt that Ron will be engaged in further succinct and elegant research. The Hawley Medal is fitting and deserved encouragement for someone who definitely thinks 'outside the box'.

    Thanks again to the MAC Awards Committee for this recognition, and to the organizing committee for the wonderful lunch.

    Alan H. Grant

    © 2006 Mineralogical Association of CanadaLast update 2014-02-05