Department of Earth SciencesWestern Science

Dr. Richard Secco

Earth Physics

Rick Secco

Professor
Ph.D. Western
University, 1988
Office: BGS 0178
Phone: 1-519-661-2111 x.84079
Fax: 1-519-661-3198
Email: secco@uwo.ca


Research Interests

My research interest lie in Mineral Physics and Materials Science. Each study in these two disciplines finds application to specific and different physico-chemical problems/investigations. The unifying theme that binds them is my primary goal of understanding the effects of high pressures and temperatures on solids and liquids, particularly as these parameters perturb and present the promise of control of physical properties. Knowledge of physical property behavior is pivotal for understanding many Earth processes as well as for tailoring specific responses in materials for applications. Many of these studies utilize equipment in the UWO Experimental High Pressure / Temperature Mineral Physics / Materials Science Laboratory.

Selected Publications

Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses
Earth Sciences 1085: Introduction to Geophysics (Fall 2001)
Earth Sciences 3321: Physics of the Earth I
Earth Sciences 4424: Advanced Mineral Physics

Graduate Courses
Geophysics 9507: Aspects of High Pressure Geophysics
Geophysics 9572: Physics of the Earth
Geophysics 9574: Seismic Exploration (with Lalu Mansinha)

Research Group

Innocent Ezenwa - Geophysics Ph.D. candidate
Understanding electrical transport in a metal such as Iron which is the dominant element in the core and other similar elements at core condition is important in understanding the transport of heat from the core to the mantle. In all metals, the motion of delocalized electrons contributes most to the heat transport than phonons. The heat conductivity of a metal relates to its electrical conductivity by Widemann-Fraz law. My project aims at investigating the possibility of invariance in the electrical resistivity of elements (Cu, Zn, Ni and Mn) at melt which can compare and contrast the role played by the incomplete 3d orbital in the electrical and thermal conductivity of liquid Iron. The result of the research will constrain the quantity of heat emitted at the inner-core boundary of the core which is dominantly pure Iron in composition.

Tim Officer - Geophysics Ph.D. candidate
My research aims to determine the mechanisms responsible for earthquakes that occur deep (up to 700 km) within the earth. At depths below about 60 km the pressure and temperature conditions are such that rocks are expected to deform instead of fracturing. This process is thought to be associated with phase transformations (abrupt changes in mineral structure) generated by the pressure and temperature environment. My thesis involves subjecting minerals thought to be associated with deep seismicity to the pressure and temperature conditions of the upper mantle and measuring acoustic emission signals linked to phase transformations.

Ryan Sawyer - Geophysics Ph.D. candidate
Silicate melts play an important role in the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets.  Silicate glasses are often used as analogues for melts.  Being amorphous solids, a wide variety of analytical techniques can be used to study their structure and properties.  My project focuses on the how the structures of potassium silicate and potassium aluminosilicate glasses change with variations in composition, pressure and temperature.  X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) is used to measure abundances of different structural types of oxygen atoms (Bridging, Non-Bridging and Free Oxygen atoms). 

Dr. Wenjun Yong - Lab Manager
My research interests in a broad sense are experimental petrology and mineral physics. Within this framework, I am exploring the chemical and physical properties of minerals under mantle conditions and their pressure and/or temperature induced phase transitions that have potential applications in mineralogy, material sciences, geological and planetary sciences. This involves experimental synthesis of high pressure phases, calorimetric measurements, high pressure and high temperature phase equilibrium experiments, equation of state determination, new phase identification, and thermodynamic calculations of phase transition boundaries. Besides, I am also interested in other research topics such ultra-high pressure metamorphic rocks, core-mantle differentiation and early evolution of Earth and other terrestrial planets.