This special issue of the Mineralogical Magazine springs from the session we organized as part of the Goldschmidt 2013 conference in Florence. The title we proposed “GEOLIFE – Geomaterials for environment, technology and human activities” reflects our feeling that a wise use of the expertise gained by mineralogists while studying the crystal chemistry, as well as the chemical and physical properties of minerals in rocks and soils, still plays an important role in what is called “The cutting edge in Mineralogy and Mineral Physics”.
Indeed, the current expertise in the physical, chemical and structural characterization of geomaterials, i.e. minerals, rocks and their synthetic analogues, now allows us to design innovative applications both for technological and environmental purposes. During the meeting we discussed some frontier work on phases produced naturally by the Earth ‘laboratory’ or fabricated within academic laboratories, which have the potential to improve the quality of life for current and future generations.