Earth Sciences alumni  
Two photos of alumni activities at Earth Sciences Alumni Day 2015

Alumni across seven decades returned for
Earth Sciences Alumni Day 2015

We were delighted to welcome more than 180 alumni and their guests to the Department for our biennial Alumni Day and Dinner on 9 May. We have had some wonderful feedback; a brief summary of the day is available here; some of the many photos are available on Flickr including William Smith's map in sections; other treasures exhibited in the Library are available on Issuu. Sarah, our Librarian, has also put together a video of pictures on YouTube.

Following on from the success of this year's event, we plan to hold an experimental, scaled down version of Alumni Day on 7 May 2016, in the intervening year until the next biennial event. There will be a particular focus on those that graduated in 1966, 76, 86, 96 and 2006, but all alumni will be welcome. Numbers will be limited so we recommend saving the date and booking early. We plan a series of talks and events in the Department from 2pm followed by a drinks reception in the Sedgwick Museum and dinner in Clare College. Do let us know your views as we shape and develop the programme.

One of the highlights of this year's event was the presentations of Mapping Projects by four of our undergraduates. Our extensive fieldwork programme has always been central to our teaching and posts covering our latest fieldtrips are available on our Fieldwork blog. The Fieldwork Fund exists to ensure we can continue to make geology fieldwork an exceptional experience for our Cambridge undergraduates and give them the opportunities we had ourselves. Those who expressed an interest in making a financial contribution can donate online. Thank you to those who are already supporting our fieldwork programme in this way.

We look forward to welcoming you to future alumni events.

James Jackson

The search for survivors, Kathamandu. Narendra Shrestha/EPA  

James Jackson attended an Earthquake Without Frontiers Partnership meeting in Kathmandu in the week preceding the devastating Gorkha earthquake. The problems highlighted by events in Nepal are common to most countries in the Alpine-Himalayan-central Asian earthquake belt.

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The Deccan Traps in Western India, credit: S A Gibson  

The asteroid that slammed into the ocean off Mexico 66 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs probably rang the Earth like a bell, triggering volcanic eruptions around the globe, according to a team of scientists that includes Dr Sally Gibson.

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Odaraia alata, an anthropod resembling a submarine frm the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale, credit: Jean Bernard Caron  

A new study, authored by Dr Javier Ortega-Hernández, has identified one of the oldest fossil brains ever discovered – more than 500 million years old – and used it to help determine how heads first evolved in early animals.

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Left: illustration of Ottoia, a prehistoric priapulid, right: Ottoia worm  

A new and detailed study of teeth belonging to a particularly phallic-looking creature has led to the compilation of a prehistoric 'dentist's handbook' which may aid in the identification of previously unrecognised specimens from the Cambrian period.

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Sedgwick Museum Archives  

All Earth Sciences alumni are warmly invited to join us for two events on Friday 25 September: learn more about the Sedgwick Museum's collections and a talk by Professor David Hodell, 'Ancient Civilisations and Climate Change', followed by a drinks reception in the Sedgwick Museum. Read more

These events are also offered as a part of the Alumni Festival programme.

James Jackson receives Wollaston Medal

The Wollaston Medal, the most prestigious award of the Geological Society, was presented to James at the Geological Society President's Day on the 3 June.

We are also delighted that James has been awarded a CBE for services to environmental science, recently announced in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

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Steve Sparks and Herbert Huppert (l to r)

Professor Stephen Sparks, of the University of Bristol, taught in the department from 1978 to 1989, publishing a series of influential papers with mathematician Herbert Huppert on the physics of magma chambers beneath volcanoes. Steve's research has improved the understanding of how volcanoes work and the ability to forecast deadly volcanic eruptions.

The Vetlesen Prize, administered by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is considered to be the Nobel Prize of Earth Sciences.

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Indian High Commissioner and Dr Ken McNamara

His Excellency Mr Ranjan Mathai, Indian High Commissioner, visited the department following an invitation extended by Dr Alan Smith. Alan introduced the High Commissioner to staff and post-doctoral students who gave short presentations outlining their research links with India.

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Simon Redfern discusses Chingiz Aitmatov's Jamilia

What Cambridge scientists read
'Novel Thoughts' explores the literary reading habits of Cambridge scientists, including Earth Sciences' Simon Redfern. The series takes a look at what fiction has meant to each of the scientists and peaks inside the covers of the books that have played a role in their lives.

Simon discusses Chingiz Aitmatov's Jamila.

Adventures in Antarctica

Adventures in Antarctica
Kathryn Gunn, PhD student, was lucky enough to participate in a research cruise off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula earlier this year. Kathryn details her recent adventures on our Fieldwork blog.

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fOrracle machine [sic]

Automated sample cleaning system for geological samples
A new automated cleaning system for geological samples simplifies their preparation and improves reliability. The fOrracle machine, designed and created at the Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate Research, is primarily designed for cleaning the shells of tiny organisms such as foraminifera and ostracoda, but can be customised for other applications.

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Clare College Old Court South

Building Stones Tour, Open Cambridge, 11 September
Dr Nigel Woodcock will lead a walking tour to see some of the main rocks used for building and roofing medieval to modern Cambridge as part of the Open Cambridge weekend. Includes a tour of the Watson Collection of building stones.

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William Smith geological map

Sedgwick Museum celebrates 200 year old geological map
To mark the bicentenary of the 1815 publication of William Smith's famous 'Delineation of the strata of England and Wales etc', the Sedgwick Museum is putting on a temporary exhibition of historic maps. Opening on 1 August, it will include one of its 3 copies of Smith's map, which has recently been restored. This map will remain on permanent display.

Research Talks and Seminars

Research Talks and Seminars
Alumni are welcome to attend the Department of Earth Sciences talks and seminars. Do please contact Alison if you plan to attend so that we know to expect you.

Programme of talks