Episode 60: Marie Jackson talks about the amazing endurance of Roman concrete

03.27.2018 - By STEM-Talk

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Why is it that modern marine concrete structures crumble and corrode within decades, but 2,000-year-old Roman piers and breakwaters endure to this day?

Episode 60 of STEM-Talk features Dr. Marie Jackson, a scientist who has spent the past two decades figuring out the answer to that and other questions about the durability of ancient Roman mortars and concretes.

Marie is a research associate professor in the department of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah. She is known for her investigations in pyroclastic volcanism, mineralogy, materials science, and archaeological science that are breaking new ground in understanding the durability and specialty properties in ancient Roman mortars and concretes.

She is particularly focused on deciphering Roman methods and materials in the hope of producing innovative, environmentally friendly cementitious masonry products and nuclear waste storage materials that would benefit the modern world. She was the lead principal investigator of a drilling project in the summer of 2017 on the Surtsey Volcano, which is on a small isolated island off the coast of Iceland. The volcano is growing the same mineral cements as Roman marine cement and the drilling project is helping provide extraordinary insights into the materials and processes the Romans used.

She is particularly focused on deciphering Roman methods and materials in the hope of producing innovative, environmentally friendly cementitious masonry products and nuclear waste storage materials that would benefit the modern world. She was the lead principle investigator of a drilling project in the summer of 2017 on the Surtsey Volcano, which is on a small isolated island off the coast of Iceland. The volcano is growing the same mineral cements as Roman marine cement and the drilling project is helping provide extraordinary insights into the materials and processes the Romans used.

After receiving her bachelor of science in earth sciences from the University of California Santa Cruz, Marie traveled overseas and received a doctorate from the Universite de Nantes in France. She returned stateside and received a doctor of philosophy from John Hopkins University as well as a Ph.D. in earth and planetary sciences.

Marie then went to work as a research geoscientist for the U.S. Geological Survey. After taking time off to raise a family, Marie joined the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, as a project scientist. She stepped into her current position at the University of Utah in 2016.

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