Earth Sciences alumni
Copper cupola, Department of Earth Sciences  Dear alumni

Welcome to the Michaelmas alumni newsletter.

Towards the end of the Michaelmas term, on the evening of 26 November, we are holding our first Earth Sciences Alumni Panel Discussion at the Geological Society in London. Dr Chris Smith, one of the Naked Scientists, will chair a panel of Cambridge Earth Scientists that includes Professor James Jackson, and lead the discussion on earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. There will be the opportunity to meet the panel at the drinks reception that follows.

The Geological Society’s William Smith map is one of a small number surviving, another of which is currently on display in the Sedgwick Museum (see below). For those interested in viewing the Geological Society’s William Smith map at this evening event, Douglas Palmer from the Sedgwick Museum will be on hand to offer his expert guidance.

We hope that you will consider joining us.

Nigel Woodcock
Teaching staff: 1973-present
Stripping the Land Bare, Sedgwick Museum
Williams Smith’s 1815 Geological Map
Stripping the Earth bare
Sedgwick Museum

On 1 August, exactly 200 years since its first publication, an original copy of Smith’s map – rediscovered after more than a century in a museum box – went on public display at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. One of the most significant pioneering geological maps of the UK ever made – described as the ‘Magna Carta of geology’, William Smith’s 1815 Geological Map of England and Wales, which measures 8.5ft x 6ft, depicted for the first time the distribution and succession of the strata of England, Wales and part of Scotland and was the culmination of years of work by Smith.

The iconic map, which formed a basis for subsequent geological maps of Britain, had a huge influence on the science of geology, inspiring generations of amateur and professional geologists to establish the subject as a coherent, robust and important science.

Read more
Marine sediment core sample, credit Julia Gottschalk   

A new study of the relationship between ocean currents and climate change has found that they are tightly linked, and that changes in the polar regions can affect the ocean and climate on the opposite side of the world within one to two hundred years, far quicker than previously thought. 

Read more
Artist's reconstruction of the Fractofusus community on the H14 surface at Bonavista Peninsula, credit C G Kenchington   

A new study of 565 million-year-old fossils, authored by Dr Emily Mitchell, has identified how some of the first complex organisms on Earth reproduced, revealing the origins of our modern marine environment.

Read more
Inscription from 1891 found in Dayu Cave, credit L Tan   

An international team of researchers, that includes Research Associate Dr Sebastian Breitenbach, has discovered unique ‘graffiti’ on the walls of a cave in central China, which describes the effects drought had on the local population over the past 500 years.

Read more
Nepal earthquake 2015 aftermath, credit Krish Dulal   

You are warmly invited to join us at 6.30pm on the 26 November at The Geological Society, London, to hear short talks by our expert panel and to question them on the range of geological hazards. Afterwards there will be drinks and canapés in the Lower Library, and a chance to meet the panel informally.

Read more
Professor Ekhard Salje FRS 

Professor Ekhard, Head of Department 1998-2008 and President of Clare Hall 2001-2008, formally retired at the end of September. One of the world leaders in the field of mineralogy and mineral physics, he plans to continue with his research in the department.


Map of life, convergent evolution online 

Prof. Simon Conway Morris, best known for his Burgess Shale studies, coordinates the Map of Life, a project aiming to raise the profile of convergent evolution among students and researchers. New information on convergence is regularly added to the site, blog and social media (Twitter and Facebook).

Read more

NASA crop image of Pluto 

Dr John Spencer (Sidney Sussex 1978), a co-investigator on the New Horizons mission that completed the flyby of Pluto in July, returned to the department to give a seminar: ‘A first look at the Pluto system from the New Horizons mission’. John is deputy leader of the Geology and Geophysics team on the project and has played a pivotal role in the search for Kuiper Belt objects to observe now that the spacecraft has flown past Pluto.

Read more

Anna Watkins 

Anna Watkins, née Bebington (Newnham 2001), London Olympic Gold medallist, formally announced her return to rowing earlier this year, with a view to making the GB Olympic team. Anna partnered Katherine Grainger to double sculls gold in 2012, and has since become a mother to two sons. We wish her the best of luck.

Read more
NERC DTP fieldtrip to Newfoundland, credit Dr S J Kelland

DTP field trip to Newfoundland

On our Fieldwork blog, Dr Sarah-Jane Kelland (Selwyn 1987), a geologist in the oil industry, gives an industry perspective on the recent NERC DTP fieldtrip to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Read more
Naked Scientist logo

Unpicking ancient climates

In a Naked Scientist episode, Dr Julia Gottschalk delves into the past to explore the effects climate change can have on the oceans and how that, in turn can impact on climate.

Listen or download
Sanne Cottaar

Young Scientist Award

Dr Sanne Cottaar, Research Associate recently appointed to a University Lectureship, has been awarded the 2015 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award. The award recognises the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.

Read more
Richard, Friends intern at Museum summer 2015

Trilobite Issue 31, Autumn 2015

The Friends of the Sedgwick Museum newsletter, containing reports on recent Museum activities, and including details of upcoming events and trips, is now available.

Read more
Department of Earth Sciences

Supporting Earth Sciences

We are seeking support for all aspects of the Department's activities.

Read more about how alumni can help.
Alumni Day 2015 activity

Save the date

Our next Alumni Day and Dinner will be held on Saturday 7 May 2016. There will be a particular focus on those that graduated in 1956, 66, 76, 86, 96 and 2006, but all alumni are welcome. Do save the date and spread the word amongst your year group and contemporaries.

Read more