School of Geography, Geology and the Environment

Research seminars

Both external and internal speakers are invited to the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment to present the latest results of their research.

Some seminars will be available via Microsoft Teams. On joining the meeting please ensure that your microphone and camera are off, if you wish to ask a question please use the raise hand function or send your questions in advance. Everyone is invited, so please join us!

*POSTPONED* Harvesting heat and metals from young magmatic systems

Please note this event with Professor Jon Blundy has had to be postponed, so will not be happening on Thursday 12 May 2022.

We hope to rearrange this event for next academic year.

Thursday 12 May 2022 in G72 (TA2) Bennett Building, 1.00pm-2.00pm (Geology). Note: this event has had to be postponed until further notice, so is not happening on 12 May 2022.

Professor Jon Blundy, University of Oxford

The transition to Net Zero will place unprecedented demand on natural resources, from those required to supply low-carbon, baseload energy to so-called critical metals required to manufacture green-tech devices. Recycling alone will be insufficient to meet this demand for the vast majority of metals, such that security of supply represents a significant impediment the effective implementation of any Net Zero strategy.

In this talk Professor Blundy will explore the opportunities and challenges associated with recovering both 'supercritical' geothermal heat and critical metals from hot magmatic systems, such as those beneath dormant volcanoes or above young granite intrusions.

Using a case study from Kakkonda (Japan), Professor Blundy will demonstrate that co-recovery of metals and heat represents a novel means to address the Net Zero challenge, without recourse to greatly increased conventional mining and attendant environmental consequences. The global ubiquity of suitable magmatic systems will help to minimise over-reliance on a few nation-state suppliers of critical metals.

Rhyolite ignimbrites from the Mesa Central and Sierra Madre Occidental, Silicic Large Igneous province, Mexico: changing the scale of studies to better understand its origin, emplacement and volcanic history

Thursday 19 May 2022 online via Teams, 1.00pm-2.00pm (Geology)

Dr Pablo Dávila Harris, Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica, Mexico

Join the seminar via Teams

Results so far from the Turkana Rift Arrays Investigating Lithospheric Structure (TRAILS) experiment

Thursday 26 May 2022 in G72 (TA2) Bennett Building, 1.00-2.00pm (Geology)

Dr Ian Bastow, Imperial College London

The Turkana Depression, a topographically subdued, broadly rifted zone between the elevated East African and Ethiopian plateaus, disrupts the N–S, fault-bounded rift basin morphology that characterizes most of the East African Rift. The unusual breadth of the Turkana Depression leaves unanswered questions concerning the initiation and evolution of rifting between the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER) and Eastern Rift.

Hypotheses explaining the unusually broad, low-lying area include superposed Mesozoic and Cenozoic rifting, and a lack of mantle lithospheric thinning and dynamic support. Key to resolving these issues is an improved knowledge of crust and upper mantle seismic structure and dynamics.

Here Dr Ian Bastow will present the results of the Turkana Rift Arrays Investigating Lithospheric Structure (TRAILS) Experiment, which recorded GPS and broadband seismic data from early 2019 until summer 2021. Highlights so far include new constraints on bulk crustal structure from receiver functions, and a seismic tomographic study of the region’s upper mantle.

Using ecology to unlock the secrets of early animal evolution

Thursday 9 June 2022 in G72 (TA2) Bennett Building, 1.00pm-2.00pm (Geology)

Dr Emily Mitchell, NERC Independent Research Fellow, Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge

The sudden appearance of animals in the fossil record, after billions of years of microbial life, is one of the most dramatic events in the history of life on Earth. These oldest known animals are found in the Ediacaran time period (630–541 Ma), just before the Cambrian radiation.  Studying Ediacaran evolution is fraught with difficulties due to the unique anatomies of Ediacaran organisms. But we have one potential avenue of attack - the preservation of Ediacaran fossils is exceptional, with thousands of organisms preserved where they lived. To exploit that information we can use a suite of ecological methodologies, normally only used on extant communities.

During this talk Emily will highlight how this rich data source, combined with cutting edge technological and ecological advances, has transformed our understanding of Ediacaran life. The talk will explain how laser-scanning has transformed our ability to digitally capture hundreds of square meters of Ediacaran bedding planes across the wind-swept coasts of Newfoundland.

Over the last four years Emily and her team have used a micron-resolution laser scanner to capture almost 20,000 fossils in-situ across from Newfoundland, Canada and Charnwood Forest, UK. Emily will explain how this unprecedented dataset has been used with careful spatial and Bayesian approaches to enable the teasing-apart of Ediacaran eco-evolutionary dynamics, and finally how these Ediacaran organisms paved the way for the rapid Cambrian radiation of animals.

This lecture will explain how they were able to discover secrets such as the how some Ediacaran species were dominantly clonal, how Ediacaran communities are highly unusual, rarely competing with each other for food and final how variations in the local habitat may be driving Ediacaran diversification and paving the way for the Cambrian radiation.

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