Earth Sciences alumni
Nigel Woodcock Dear alumni

Welcome to the Lent alumni newsletter.

We were delighted to welcome 60 alumni and guests to our first Earth Sciences Alumni Panel Discussion at The Geological Society in London in November. The discussion on earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions is available on YouTube and photographs of the event are available on Flickr. We are planning a similar discussion: Climate change: a view from the past, on Tuesday 22 November. Do save the date.

In the meantime, we hope to welcome many of you back to the Department for our Alumni Day and Dinner on 7 May this year.

Nigel Woodcock
FortyTwo Evolution website talking heads
FortyTwo Evolution
Website sets out to tackle great scientific unknowns

A team of scientists at Cambridge have created a new online resource dedicated to the subject of evolution. Named Forty Two (after Douglas Adams’ famously cryptic solution to the meaning of life), the website includes video interviews in which researchers including Sir David Attenborough, Simon Conway Morris, Nicky Clayton and Carenza Lewis offer their views on topics ranging from the nature of evolution itself, to the future of life as we know it.

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Arenal Volcano in November 2006, credit: Matthew Landry at English Wikipedia  

A team of researchers, led by Earth Sciences’ Pietro Sternai, have found that, in addition to melting ice caps, erosion played a major role in the process leading to an increase in volcanic activity at the end of the last ice age, and may have contributed to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

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Mapping cross-cutting dykes at Porthmeor  

For the seventh consecutive year, the Earth Sciences Department at Cambridge tops the geology league tables published in The Complete University Guide 2016. In addition to a high score for research quality and graduate prospects, the Department holds an impressive score for student satisfaction.

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The Star of Adam, credit: BBC  

Simon Redfern discusses how the “Star of Adam” sapphire, recently found in a mine in Sri Lanka, was formed. It weighs in at over 1,404 carats, that’s around 280g. What do we know about the formation of this remarkable gemstone – and how could it grow so huge?

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Alumni Day 2015  

Highlights of the afternoon’s events include talks by Simon Conway Morris and Marian Holness. A drinks reception will be held in the Sedgwick Museum followed by dinner in Clare College. We would like to particularly encourage those who graduated in 1956, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006 to join us.

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A young Wordie with Professor McKenny Hughes on a Sedgwick Club field trip to Malvern in 1913, the year before he set sail for Antarctica

A hundred years ago, James Mann Wordie was one of Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition team rescued from Elephant Island, off the coast of Antarctica, following the sinking of their ship Endurance.

Wordie (St John’s College 1910 – 62) was Shackleton’s geologist and, although he never set foot on Antarctica, he found an unusual source of geological information: stones found in penguin stomachs.

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Dr John Rudge

John’s research has changed our understanding of how long it took the Earth to form and how quickly material is recycled by plate tectonics.

His interests encompass a broad spread of geophysics and geochemistry, using techniques from continuum mechanics, numerical analysis and statistics to tackle a wide variety of problems in Earth Sciences.

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Students study quietly in the Library

Anna Barth (MSci 2011-15) won first prize in the 2015 Neftex Earth Model Award for her project entitled ‘Gas migration through crystal mushes: implications for the dynamics of persistently degassing volcanoes’.

Bethany Vickers (Part III) won the overall prize for the best poster contribution at the 3rd Annual Geology for Global Development conference held at The Geological Society.

Women's Varsity Match Dec 2015, credit: Will Lyon Tupman

The Light Blue women’s rugby team defeated Oxford 52-0 in the Varsity Match in December – the first time the women’s fixture has been played at Twickenham.

Earth Sciences was well represented: Clare Donaldson (alumna and current PhD student), Ayala Donegan (Part III) and Heather Britton (Part II) all played their part in the victory.

Greece fieldtrip Dec 2015

Faults, fissures, footwalls and more  

Matthew Kemp (Part II) and Greg Palmer (Part II) give their perspective of the latest field trip to Greece at the end of the Michaelmas term.

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Science Festival

Science Festival 7 20 March 

A series of evening lectures, including Dr Woodward’s cabinet of dangerous dreams and Mapping rocks: sheets of many colours will take place in the Department 15-17 March. Time Truck will also be opening their doors on 12 March.

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Tools of the Trade exhibition, Buckland's hammer

Tools of the Trade

A selection of the Sedgwick Museum’s unique historic collection of geological hammers will be on display from early March. Amongst these iconic ‘tools of the trade’ are hammers belonging to eminent British geologists, such as William Buckland, Charles Lyell, Adam Sedgwick and more recent figures, such as Harry Whittington.

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Charles Darwin's Voyage on the Beagle

Mr Darwins' Amazing Adventures

Come and hear the amazing tale of Charles Darwin's voyage on the Beagle at the Sedgwick Museum on 5 April, with storyteller Marion Leeper, (for 6yrs+). Explore coral reefs and volcanoes on the beautiful story mat and handle some rocks and fossils.

Sedgwick Museum Events

Geological Society event, London 2015

Save the date

Our second Earth Sciences alumni panel discussion: Climate change: a view from the past, will be held at The Geological Society in London on Tuesday 22 November. Do contact Alison if you are interested in hearing more about this event.

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GeoCam cover, issue 13


The next edition of GeoCam will be sent to alumni in early March. Do please let us know if your contact details have changed, either by contacting Alison or by using the link below.

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