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Beginning in 1998, papers published in the past year in American Mineralogist are considered for the Best Paper Award. The choice is made on the basis of:

  • Impact. How will the paper change the way we think about a problem? Is the problem important to the field of mineralogy (or beyond)?
  • Scientific content. How well-grounded are the scientific approach, results, and conclusions?  Does it highlight new and emerging areas of research in the mineralogical sciences?
  • Innovation/originality. How clever or new are the methods, results, and conclusions? Have the authors made a discovery of a new phenomenon or developed a new theory or model?
  • Organization and readability. Is the paper accessible to a broad audience, despite the need for specialization. Could a nonspecialist read the paper and realize the significance of the problem and work? Could a nonspecialist get excited about the results?

  Previous American Mineralogist Best Paper Awards: 

2002, Volume 87 
John Lusk, Brian O.E. Calder, and Terence E. Freeman, Temperatures from triple-junction angles in sulfides. p. 1390-1400 Abstract
2001, Volume 86 
Peppard, B.T., Steele, I.M., Davis, A.M., Wallace, P.J., and Anderson, A.T., Zoned quartz phenocrysts from the rhyolitic Bishop Tuff. p. 1034-1052 Abstract
2000, Volume 85 
Nishimura, Y., Coombs, D.S., Landis, C.A., and Itaya, T., Continuous metamorphic gradient document by graphitization and K-Ar age, southeast Otago, New Zealand. p. 1625-1635 Abstract
1999, Volume 84 
G. Morin, J.D. Ostergren, F. Juillot, P. Ildefonse, G. Calas, and G.E. Brown, Jr., XAFS determination of the chemical form of lead in smelter-contaminated soils and mine tailings: Importance of adsorption processes. p. 420-434. Abstract

As mineralogists turn their attention to environmental problems, we must evaluate the capabilities of our instruments and find ways to make them answer significant environmental problems.  This paper evaluates lead contamination in soils, a problem with large environmental significance.  By ascertaining the chemical form of lead, knowledge of its bioavailability results, which is of fundamental importance to human health.

1998, Volume 83 
R. Dohmen, S. Chakraborty, H. Palme and W. Rammensee, Solid-solid reactions mediated by a gas phase: an experimental study of reaction progress and the role of surfaces in the system olivine + iron metal p. 970-984. Abstract

This paper applies the novel technique of Knudsen-cell mass spectrometry, in conjunction with electron microprobe analysis and imaging, to a problem of immediate interest to mineralogists and cosmochemists - the origin of olivine rims on grains of meteoritic Fe metal. The results of the analytical studies are followed by numerical modeling of relevant diffusion relationships to yield an interpretation involving gas fluxing that is tantalizing if not highly convincing. This paper demonstrates, furthermore, the significance of planetary materials studies to the science of mineralogy.

1997, Volume 82 
Teng, H. H., and Dove, P. M., 1997 Surface site-specific interactions of aspartate with calcite during dissolution: implications for biomineralization. p. 878-887. Abstract

It seems fitting that the American Mineralogist's first Best Paper Award recognizes work of a highly interdisciplinary nature, bringing together aspects of crystal structure - the very foundation of mineralogy - with modern geochemistry to address molecular scale processes that bear on our understanding of the interplay between minerals and life. Teng and Dove's elegant AFM study illustrates the important roles that crystal structure and, in turn, surface structure play in governing mineral reactivity in nature. By examining the influence that organic molecules exert on step orientation and behavior during calcite dissolution, they provide some tantalizing insight into possible ways in which organisms control the formation of crystals. What stands out in their paper is the clarity with which they have documented a rapid morphological change at a mineral surface and the implications of the process for biomineralization.

[revised 12/28/2002]

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