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Fingerprinting rare earth elements from the air

last modified Jun 21, 2016 03:16 PM

Over the past year, Earth Sciences’ Dr Sally Gibson has been working together with Dr Teal Riley and Dr David Neave through a University of Cambridge-BAS Joint Innovation Panel on a remote sensing technique that could aid the identification of ‘rare earth elements’ (REEs) in rocks anywhere in the world.

Vital to many modern technologies yet mined in few places, the ‘rare earth elements’ are in fact not that rare – they are just difficult to find in concentrations that make them economic to mine. Researchers from Cambridge University and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are investigating whether the remarkable properties of these materials can be used to track them down from the air.

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