Chi Ma
Director, GPS Division Analytical Facility

Ph.D. (ANU)
Senior Staff Scientist / Mineralogist
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Caltech 170-25, Pasadena, California 91125

chi [AT]
626 395 6253 (office: B151 Arms)
626 395 6126 (lab: B150 Arms)

Research Interests: Nanomineralogy; discovering new minerals and materials representing extreme conditions; electron beam techniques.

With high-resolution analytical scanning electron microscopy, we are now capable to characterize solid materials easier and faster down to nano-scales. During an ongoing nanomineralogy investigation of Earth and planetary materials, which I have been leading since 2006, 34 new minerals have been discovered. 17 of them are from the Allende meteorite, including refractory minerals like panguite, kangite, tistarite and allendeite, which are among the first solids formed in our solar system. Each of the new extraterrestrial minerals reveals distinctive forming environments, providing new insights into nebula or parent-body processes. Around 55 refractory minerals plus about 15 presolar minerals mark the beginning of the solar mineral evolution 4.568 billion years ago. There are now ~5200 minerals identified, mostly from Earth.

Honor: Machiite Al2Ti3O9, a new ultra-refractory mineral from the Murchison meteorite, is named after me (Ma, Chi) by Sasha Krot and approved by CNMNC (IMA 2016-067). It has a general formula of (Al,Sc)2(Ti,Zr)3O9, formed by condensation in the solar nebula.

Finding New Minerals: from Earth to Mars and the Solar Nebula

IMA 2006-040, barioperovskite, BaTiO3, in benitoite from California
IMA 2007-027, allendeite, Sc4Zr3O12, from Allende meteorite
IMA 2007-029, hexamolybdenum, (Mo,Ru,Fe), from Allende
IMA 2007-033, monipite, MoNiP, from Allende
IMA 2008-016, tistarite, Ti2O3, from Allende
IMA 2008-030, davisite, CaScAlSiO6, from Allende
IMA 2008-042, grossmanite, CaTi3+AlSiO6, from Allende
IMA 2009-027, hibonite-(Fe), (Fe,Mg)Al12O19, from Allende
IMA 2010-003, murchisite, Cr5S6, from Murchison meteorite
IMA 2010-038, krotite, CaAl2O4, from a CV3 meteorite
IMA 2010-057, panguite, (Ti,Al,Sc,Mg,Zr,Ca)1.8O3, from Allende
IMA 2010-062, brearleyite, Ca12Al14O32Cl2, from a CV3 meteorite
IMA 2011-070, buseckite, (Fe,Zn,Mn)S, from Zaklodzie
IMA 2011-092, kangite, (Sc,Ti,Al,Zr,Mg,Ca,[])2O3, from Allende
IMA 2012-008, browneite, MnS, from Zaklodzie
IMA 2012-079, majindeite, Mg2Mo3O8, from Allende
IMA 2013-018, nuwaite, Ni6GeS2, from Allende
IMA 2013-027, tissintite, (Ca,Na,[])AlSi2O6, from Mars
IMA 2013-028, ahrensite, Fe2SiO4, from Mars
IMA 2013-029, hutcheonite, Ca3Ti2(SiAl2)O12, from Allende
IMA 2013-053, paqueite, Ca3TiSi2(Al2Ti)O14, from Allende
IMA 2013-054, burnettite, CaVAlSiO6, from Allende
IMA 2013-128, liebermannite, KAlSi3O8, from Mars
IMA 2013-129, warkite, Ca2Sc6Al6O20, from Murchison and Vigarano
IMA 2014-017, bridgmanite, (Mg,Fe)SiO3, from Tenham (news)
IMA 2014-028, adrianite, Ca12(Mg5Si9)O32Cl6, from Allende
IMA 2014-029, cortesognoite, CaV2Si2O7(OH)2H2O, from Italy
IMA 2015-001, beckettite, Ca2V6Al6O20, from Allende
IMA 2015-006, addibischoffite, Ca2Al6Al6O20, from a CH meteorite
IMA 2015-049, joegoldsteinite, MnCr2S4, from a meteorite
IMA 2016-028, butianite, Ni6SnS2, from Allende
IMA 2016-033, stolperite, AlCu, from Khatyrka
IMA 2016-034, hollisterite, Al3Fe, from Khatyrka
IMA 2016-062, kryachkoite, (Al,Cu)6(Fe,Cu), from Khatyrka
(Approved by IMA-CNMNC) [Mineral Names]

In the Media: PHYS (2016); E&S (2015); AGU, NBC, NG, Caltech News (2014); PSRD (2013); Caltech News, LiveScience, CBS, Wired (2012); National Geographic (2011); E&S (2007)