ucla epss geochem

E. D. Young Laboratory at UCLA: Isotope cosmochemistry and geochemistry, astrochemistry, atmospheric isotope chemistry
MC ICPMS Young lab
Isotope ratios of elements like O, Mg, Si, Cl, Fe, Pb, and Hf in meteorites and terrestrial samples are measured using gas-source mass spectrometers and a multiple-collector inductively coupled plasma-source mass spectrometer (MC-ICPMS) in the Young lab.
UV fluorination line
We use lasers to extract oxygen from rocks in order to measure their oxygen isotope ratios.


Linking astrophysics, meteoritics, and isotope chemistry
The question of the origins of rock in the solar system is central to our understanding of whether or not formation of rocky planets is "typical." If our solar system was formed by canonical processes in the Galaxy, then the chances that there are other planetary systems like ours is enhanced. Conversely, if the processes that gave rise to rocky planets are unconventional, the odds of finding other Earths are comparatively low. One of our goals is to compare what we learn about the early solar system through studies of meteorites to astronomical observations of stars in their infancy in order to address this question.


solar system cartoon
The image at left is a diagramatic representation of our solar system when it was on the order of one million years old or younger. The diagram makes reference to various components of primitive meteorites (e.g., CAIs, or calcium aluminum-rich inclusions, like the one shown at the top of this page, and chondrules). The collimated bipolar jets seen in the above image of a star-disk system are depicted here as well. The young solar system was clearly a dynamical system with large variations in conditions from place to place.
asteroid 25143
This image of the near-Earth asteroid (25143) Itokawa from the Hyabusa space craft, obtained by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is an example of the sort of primitive body available to us for study in the solar system. We obtain samples of rocks like this in the form of meteorites. Cosmochemists try to relate the chemical and isotopic compositions of meteorites to the astronomical processes attending star and disk formation - processes like those shown in the preceeding images.
Ed Young at Keck
The photograph at left shows the reflections of Ed Young (UCLA, on the right) and geochemist Hiroshi Ohmoto (Penn State, on the left) in one of the 36 pentagon-shaped segments that together comprise one of the two Keck telescope hyperbolic mirrors. Our group is using some of the world's largest telescopes to map out the variations of isotope ratios across the Galaxy.