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Schools in Science

Our research group primarily focuses on using meteorites to understand the evolution of the early Solar System. We also have a strong interest in understanding how mineral–microbe interactions preserve evidence of microbial life in rocks on Earth and other planets. We are interested in advancing our understanding of the evolution of asteroids and comets, Mars, the Moon and other planets, and the early Earth, as well as the cosmochemical and dynamic evolution of our solar system and extrasolar planetary systems. Underpinning our research are annual expeditions to recover meteorites from Australian deserts, and world-class analytical facilities, such as the Australia Synchrotron, Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy, Monash X-ray Platform, CSIRO Electron Microbeam Lab, and SEAE laser ablation facilities.

Research Staff


Andy Tomkins

  • Role of metamorphic processes in planetesimal differentiation
  • Redox processes in asteroids
  • Use of micrometeorites in understanding the early Earth and near-Earth environment.

Sasha Wilson

  • Low-temperature geochemistry
  • Nutrient cycling and mineral behaviour, applied to martian surface conditions.

Oliver Nebel

  • Isotope fractionation
  • Redox processes in planets and asteroids.

Postgraduate Students


Alastair Tait (PhD)

  • Microbial habitats on the surface of Mars.

Andrew Langendam (PhD)

  • Redox processes affecting asteroids in the early Solar System.

Recent Publications

  • Tomkins, A.G., Bowlt, L., Genge, M., Wilson, S.A., Brand, H.E.A. and Wykes, J.L. In Press. Ancient micrometeorites suggestive of an oxygen-rich Archean upper atmosphere. Accepted by Nature, 9th Feb, 2016.
  • Telus, M., Huss, G.R., Ogliore, R.C., Nagashima, K., Howard, D.L., Newville, M.G., and Tomkins, A.G.2016. Mobility of iron and nickel at low temperatures: Implications for 60Fe-60Ni systematics of chondrules from unequilibrated ordinary chondrites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 178, 87-105.
  • Tait, A., Tomkins, A.G., Godel, B.M., Wilson, S.A. and Hasalova, P., 2014. Investigation of the H7 ordinary chondrite, Watson 012: Implications for recognition and classification of Type 7 meteorites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 134, 175-196.
  • Mare, E.R., Tomkins, A.G. and Godel, B.M., 2014. Restriction of parent body heating by metal-troilite melting: Thermal models for the ordinary chondrites. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 49, 636-651.
  • Tomkins, A.G., Mare, E.R. and Raveggi, M., 2013. Fe-carbide and Fe-sulfide liquid immiscibility in IAB meteorite, Campo del Cielo: Implications for iron meteorite chemistry and planetesimal core compositions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 117, 80-98.
  • Tomkins, A.G., Weinberg, R.F., Schaefer, B.F., and Langendam, A., 2013. Disequilibrium melting and melt MGEation driven by impacts: Implications for rapid planetesimal core formation. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 100, 41-59.
  • SA Wilson, DL Bish, 2012. Stability of Mg-sulfate minerals in the presence of smectites: Possible mineralogical controls on H2O cycling and biomarker preservation on Mars. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 96, 120-133
  • SA Wilson, DL Bish, 2011. Formation of gypsum and bassanite by cation exchange reactions in the absence of free-liquid H2O: Implications for Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research 116, E09010.

Recent Grants

  • Exploration of the western Strzelecki Desert for meteorites. National Geographic Research and Exploration Grant (9680-15; 2015): $27,680.  Tomkins, Schaefer
  • Space Rocks! Pozible Crowd-Sourced Funding Campaign (2015): $12,209. Funding for Nullarbor meteorite recovery expeditions.
  • How to make a planet: Investigation of early solar system dynamics through meteorites. Australian Synchrotron – Imaging & Medical Beamline (Round 2, 2015):  24 hours access. Rushmer, Tomkins, Clark, Piazolo
  • Texture measurements in meteorites II:  Zooming into Chondrites and Achondrites. Bragg Institute Neutron Beam Instrument Grant (Round 1, 2015): Commercial rate (Grant Value): $AU62,100. Piazolo, Luzin, Caparoli, Salvemini, Bland, Rushmer, Tomkins
  • Texture measurements in meteorites - a pilot study. Bragg Institute Neutron Beam Instrument Grant (Round 1, 2014): Commercial rate (Grant Value): $AU53,600. Luzin, Piazolo, Bland, Rushmer, Tomkins