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GEMOC ARC National Key Centre



Dr Dan Howell

Postdoctoral Research ASSOCIATE


Contact Details

Office : E5B 203
Phone : 61-(0)2-9850 4401
Fax : 61-(0)2-9850 6904
email :

Personal Webpage:

Dr. Dan Howell
GEMOC ARC National Key Centre
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Room 203, Building E5B
Macquarie University,
North Ryde,
NSW 2109


MSci (Hons) Geoscience, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, 2004; PhD, University College London, UK, 2009


Research Interests and Past Work

My research interests are focused upon the study of diamonds and their inclusions. My PhD was based around the use of birefringence (which is a stress related optical property in diamond) to investigate the history of diamonds. This work covered the full range of using quantitative birefringence analysis, starting with experimentally re-evaluating the photoelastic constants of diamond, using the MetriPol birefringence analysis system. After that, my work focused on using the strain birefringence halos commonly observed around inclusions to measure the remnant pressure the inclusions are under, and from that calculate possible source conditions in the mantle. As plastic deformation is another common cause of birefringence in diamond, and it is inherently linked to the development of brown colour, I undertook a HPHT experimental investigation into the deformation of diamond under mantle conditions.

Current Research Projects

I am currently working on the ARC Discovery Project, “Diamond genesis: cracking the code for deep-Earth processes” with Sue O’Reilly, Bill Griffin & Norm Pearson. This project will involve utilizing the various optical analytical techniques applicable to diamond (FTIR, Raman, CL, XPL) in combination with geochemical analytical techniques (LA-ICP-MS, SIMS) to further investigate the physical and geochemical conditions that diamonds and their inclusions form in and are subjected to during their lifetime.



- Howell & Nasdala, 2008. Discussion: 'Using strain birefringence in diamond to estimate the remnant pressure on an inclusion' by Barron et al., 2008. 
Australian Journal of Earth Science, 55 (8), 1175-1180.

- Howie, Brewster, Howell & Jones, 2007. Physical basis of colours seen in Congo red-stained amyloid in polarized light. Laboratory Investigations, 88, 232-242


Conference Presentations

- An Experimental Investigation into Plastic Deformation of Diamond under HPHT Conditions & the Relationship with Brown Colour. Talk, 60th UK Diamond Conference, Warwick, 2009.

- Quantifying birefringence haloes around inclusions in diamond. Poster, 9th International Kimberlite Conference, Frankfurt, 2008.

- Quantifying birefringence haloes around inclusions in diamond. Talk, Oxford Diamond Conference, 2008.

- Utilizing birefringence analysis of diamond. Talk, Warwick Diamond Conference 2007.

- Birefringence analysis in diamond using the MetriPol system. Talk, Cambridge Diamond Conference, 2006.

- Reproducing natural growth conditions for "superdeep" diamond. Poster, Cambridge Diamond Conference, 2006.

- The MetriPol automated birefringence analysis system, a tool for understanding diamond history. Poster, Oxford Diamond Conference, 2005.



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