Joshua Razink studied under UO chemist Jim Hutchison en route to his master's degree before joining the Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon (CAMCOR) – widely known as the state's high-tech extension service – as an instrument manager in 2011.
Now his skills operating a state-of-the-art high-resolution transmission electron microscope in CAMCOR's facilities in the underground Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories have him seeing diamonds. Not ordinary ones, though, rather nano-sized diamonds that are invisible to human eyes. Because of how they form, nanodiamonds are tied closely to comets and asteroids.
As a co-author with researchers from 21 universities in six countries, Razink used CAMCOR's Titan microscope to positively identify and characterize nanodiamonds from 32 sites in 11 countries. His doing so has helped deliver strong evidence that supports a sometimes-maligned theory that a cosmic explosion 12,800 years ago – a comet burst above the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway – triggered the ice age that fragmented Clovis culture and drove numerous species of plants and mammals into extinction.
The study – published online this week by the Journal of Geology and detailed in a UO news release – suggests to Razink that if such an event happened, scientists can repair the historical record, and, he surmised, give people some assurance that surviving and adapting to climate change might just be doable in the coming years.
—By Jim Barlow, Public Affairs Communications