Earth Sciences alumni  
Nigel Woodcock Dear alumni

We were delighted to welcome 120 alumni and their guests for our first experimental scaled-down Alumni Day and Dinner on 7 May. The afternoon of activities included talks, tours of the Microanalysis Suite, a selection of treasures from the archives, displays in the library and museum, and our popular undergraduate mapping project talks. Some of the many photos taken on the day are available on Flickr. Thank you to all of those who were able to join us.

Our next Alumni Day and Dinner will be held on Saturday 13 May 2017, and will follow our traditional format of activities in the Department throughout the day, followed by the Alumni Dinner in St John’s College. There will be a particular focus on those who graduated in years ending with a 7, but once again, all of you are welcome. Do save the date.

Nigel Woodcock
Bardabunga-Haluhraun fissure eruption, Iceland 2014, credit: Arctic Images
Explosive Earth: Earthquakes and Eruptions in Iceland
at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

The Cambridge Volcano Seismology group will be showcasing their latest research in the explosive field of volcano seismology, including the study of the six-month Bárðarbunga-Holuhraun dyke intrusion and fissure eruption. By studying these seismic events, the group hope to understand the behaviour of volcanic systems better and improve prediction of volcanic activity.

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition runs from 4–10 July and features cutting-edge science and research from across the UK.
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Light microscope image of the five tentacled Temnosewellia c.f rouxi from cultured redclaw crayfish Image credit: David Blair James Cook University  

A symbiotic relationship that has lasted for 100 million years is at serious risk of ending, due to the effects of environmental and climate change. A new study has found that species of spiny crayfish native to Australia and the tiny flatworms that depend on them are both at risk of extinction.

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Earth's mantle. Image Credit: Argonne National Laboratory.  

Mark Hoggard and a team of researchers from Earth Sciences have compiled the first accurate global map of surface deflections caused by flow within the Earth's mantle. Variations occur on shorter wavelengths than previously expected and generate rapid vertical motions, even in the middle of tectonic plates.

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Filaments of Tortotubus. Image Credit: Martin R Smith.  

The fossil, dating from 440 million years ago, is not only the earliest example of an organism living on land but also the oldest example of a fossilised fungus. The organism, and others like it, played a key role in kick-starting the process of rot and soil formation, vital to all complex life on land.

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Athena Swan logo  

We are very pleased to announce that the Department has been awarded its first Athena SWAN Bronze Award. The awards celebrate good practice in recruiting, retaining and promoting women in STEMM subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) within higher education.

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Gertrude Elles pictured in Ledbury in 1913 with back row with (from 1 to r) W B R King, T C Nicholas and J M Wordie. Photograph by S. Shaw. Ref: Sedgwick Club Archive, SWGC 2/2/15  

Mary (Clara) McKenny Hughes (1860-1916) and Gertrude Lilian Elles (1872-1960) were particularly influential in promoting the participation of women in geology within the University of Cambridge. As the wife of Woodwardian Professor Thomas McKenny Hughes, Clara’s presence on field trips facilitated other female participation for the first time.

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Harry Elderfield

It was with great sadness that we announced the death of Harry Elderfield earlier this year. Harry was Emeritus Professor of Ocean Geochemistry and Palaeochemistry and an Emeritus Fellow of St Catharine's College. He was recognised for his contributions with several notable awards including the Lyell Medal in 2003 and the VM Goldschmidt in 2013.

A memorial service will be held in the Chapel of St Catharine’s College on Saturday 15 October.

Further details

Sir David Attenborough, 90th birthday celebrations at Clare College

Clare College hosted a 90th birthday celebration dinner for Honorary Fellow Sir David Attenborough (Earth Sciences 1945-47).

A large number of Fellows and students attended to mark the occasion, including Clare College Part IA Earth Scientists who enjoyed meeting David and comparing palaeontology teaching styles 70 years apart.

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The Esquel pallasite from the National History Museum collections, copyright The Natural History Museum

All Earth Sciences alumni are warmly invited to join us in the Department on Friday 23 September to hear Dr Richard Harrison’s talk entitled: A window on the early solar system: Magnetic nanostructures in meteorites, followed by a reception in the Sedgwick Museum. You can see more details on this event here.

As part of the Alumni Festival's Saturday lecture programme, Professor Eric Wolff explores how the Earth’s climate responds to rising concentrations of carbon dioxide. The full Alumni Festival programme is available here.  


Oscar Powell, University Challenge 2016, credit BBC

University Challenge victory 

Students from Peterhouse, Cambridge defeated St John’s College, Oxford to win the 45th University Challenge final. The team included Earth Sciences’ Oscar Powell (Part II), who set an impressive record of answering starter questions correctly throughout.

The win marked an historic third consecutive victory for Cambridge.

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SGWC 01_01_01 Rules of the Club 1880

‘A party of stonebreakers’
Sedgwick Club archive online

The Sedgwick Club archive is unique and extremely significant as the club is one of the first student geological clubs to be established in the UK. The scrapbooks and accounts provide a unique insight into the history and development of geology and Earth Sciences during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with many eminent geologists being active members.

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Geological Society event Nov 2015

Climate change: a view from the past

Our second Earth Sciences Alumni Panel Discussion will be held at The Geological Society in London on Tuesday 22 November. Notifications for this event are sent by email only; do contact Alison if you would like to be added to the mailing list for e-invitations to our events.

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Detail, drawer of rocks from the Terra Nova expedition, 1910-1913. Copyright Dudley Simons

Reuniting our important rock collections

The Sedgwick Museum is well on the way to reuniting its geological collections under one roof. The proposed Geological Collections Store will adjoin the Brighton Building and vastly improve accessibility. The collections are central to the research of many in the Department and wider community.

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Part III fieldtrip to Spain 2016

Sun, sea and subduction

Clare Donaldson (MSci 2011-2015, current PhD student) details the adventures of the Part III students on their final field trip to Spain over on our fieldwork blog. If you would like to contribute a post about a memorable field trip from your time in the Department, then we would like to hear from you.

Fieldwork blog

Sedgwick Museum family events

Family events at the Sedgwick Museum

A range of family activities are planned over the summer months: come and make a prehistoric suncatcher; join us in the Fun Lab on Parkers Piece and predict your own future fossils; bring your own geological specimens and our experts will help identify them; hear about the adventures of Colonel Carrot with storyteller Marion Leeper.

Sedgwick Museum events