June 22, 2018
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University of Maine research professor honored to have 2 minerals named after him

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — Two Russian geologists have named two minerals after a longtime University of Maine geologist and research professor.

Evgeny Galuskin and his wife Irina discovered two minerals new to science and decided to name them after Edward Grew, who has been at the University of Maine since 1984.

“I feel very honored,” said Grew, 68, adding that he has worked with the Galuskins on many of their research papers. “I also feel quite lucky that I get two minerals [named after me]. Normally only one is allowed per person nowadays, [but] these minerals are very closely related chemically.”

The minerals Edgrewite and hydroxledgrewite, named for the professor, were discovered in the Chegem caldera in the Northern Caucasus, near Mount Elbrus in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in Russia. A caldera is a crater-like structure produced by large explosive volcanic ash eruptions, like those found at Yellowstone and Crater Lake national parks, according to the University of Maine.

The two minerals that bear his name were found as tiny crystals smaller in size than a period at the end of a sentence in a newspaper, Grew said.

Grew met the Galuskins in person during the International Mineralogical Association meeting in Budapest in 2010.

There are still many minerals yet to be discovered, he said. About 100 new mineral proposals a year are submitted for peer approval.

“Right now, there are about 4,800 that have been approved by an international commission, which sets the standard for minerals and minerals named,” he said.

Edgrewite was discovered in 2011, with hydroxlegrewite discovered later that year. After the Galuskins received approval to use Grew’s name for the minerals in 2011, the minerals eventually were submitted to American Mineralogist, where an article on the subject was published in the November-December 2012 issue.

Grew, a native of Andover, Mass., said he first took interest in minerals when he was about 8 years old.

“I was attracted to rare minerals — boron and beryllium,” he said. “I just collected [them] on my own. I went to a summer camp, where there was a counselor who was a grad student at Harvard. I learned quite a lot there. I didn’t have any formal study until college.”

Grew’s focus remains on boron and beryllium, and the role of the two elements in the changes that rocks undergo at high temperatures and pressures in the Earth’s crust, according to UMaine.

Grew went to Dartmouth University where he majored in geology and later attended Harvard University. His passion took him to places few dare travel. He has been on nine expeditions in Antarctica. His relationship with Russians has allowed him to explore places Americans don’t normally get to see.

“I had a long collaboration with Russian scientists that began in 1972 when I wintered in a Soviet base in Antarctica called Molodezhnaya Station,” Grew said.

He’s spent winters and summers in Antarctica exploring for minerals.

Weather during Antarctica’s summer isn’t so bad sometimes, he said.

“In the summer, there’s 24 hours of daylight,” Grew said. “When the sun is up in the middle of the day with no wind, it’s actually quite pleasant. It’s comparable to a mild winter day here. But once the wind comes up, you feel the chill.”

Interacademy exchanges also sent Grew to other parts of the world including Siberia, Tajikistan, Australia, India, Germany and Japan.

In his travels, Grew has discovered or helped discover 13 minerals.

“Quite a few of them are from Antarctica,” he said. “I had collections from a famous deposit from Sweden.”

His research has focused on minerals that have formed under relatively extreme conditions, he said.

“Recognizing a new mineral involves a measure of good luck and familiarity with known minerals,” said Grew in a statement. “Several new minerals I have discovered simply looked different under the optical microscope. Chemical tests confirmed my hunch that the minerals were new.”

His last expedition was in 2003-2004 when he traveled with an Australian expedition in East Antarctica.

Since then, Grew has spent his time as an associate editor at several publications, including Canadian Mineralogist, American Mineralogist and Mineralogical Magazine, where he currently contributes.

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