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Department of Earth Sciences

Fossil impressions in rocks from Flinders Ranges

New fossil evidence shows Australia’s oldest animals lived along the coastline

14 January 2021

Fossils of some of Earth’s first macroscopic animals – the roughly 550-million-year-old Ediacara biota – have been identified in rocks that record Australia’s ancient shorelines. Scientists had thought that these archaic lifeforms lived out to sea in calmer waters. But the new study, published in the Journal of Sedimentary...

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Dr Sanne Cottaar receives Royal Astronomical Society award

11 January 2021

Dr Sanne Cottaar has been awarded the 2021 Royal Astronomical Society Harold Jeffreys Lectureship for outstanding geophysical research into processes in the Earth’s lower mantle and core. The Royal Astronomical Society awards recognize scientists across the world for their significant achievement in the fields of astronomy...

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Image of the Khone waterfall, Mekong River

Muddying the waters – weathering might remove less atmospheric carbon dioxide than thought

22 December 2020

The weathering of rocks at the Earth’s surface may play less role of a role in regulating our climate than previously thought, says new research from the University of Cambridge. The findings, published today in PNAS , suggest Earth’s natural mechanism for removing carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from the atmosphere via the weathering of rocks may in fact be weaker than scientists had thought – calling into question the exact role of rocks in alleviating warming over millions of years.

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Aerial photo of Lake Ohrid Macedonia; image credit Shutterstock Ljupco Dzambazovski

What can museum specimens tell us about climate change?

30 November 2020

The humble blue mussel is fighting to protect itself from environmental change and increased predation by building itself a thicker shell. The unexpected phenomenon, tracked by researchers through generations of museum specimens, shows that climate change can have complex localized impacts that cannot be predicted by global experimental models.

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Prof. David Hodell named AAAS Fellow

24 November 2020

David Hodell, Woodwardian Professor of Geology at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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2020 AGU awards to Department members

12 November 2020

Congratulations to Professors Marie Edmonds and Nick McCave on their 2020 AGU awards.

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Drone ready to launch in the foreground with research scientists and Manam islanders gathered in the background; image credit Mathew Wordell

Forecasting eruptions with the help of drones

29 October 2020

Specially-adapted drones, developed by an international team involving scientists from the University of Cambridge, are transforming how we forecast eruptions by allowing close-range measurements of previously inaccessible and hazardous volcanoes.

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Photo of the mineral spodumene, showing cleavage and inclusions

Nanoscale mapping of lithium in geological materials

20 October 2020

A breakthrough in the imaging and analysis of geological materials means that scientists can now study variations in their chemistry and structure at nano-scales, with possible applications ranging from the green energy transition to the planetary sciences.

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Painting of Ancient Dorsetshire 'Duria Antiquior' by Robert Farren

Ancient Dorset travels to France

19 October 2020

Duria Antiquior, or ‘Ancient Dorsetshire’, has for many years been an important part of the Sedgwick Museum displays. The painting, which depicts a prehistoric shoreline teaming with marine life, has been described as ‘the first true scene from deep time’ to be based on fossil evidence. Today the painting sets off for Paris where it will form part of a new exhibition ‘The Origins of the World: The invention of Nature in the 19th Century’ at the Musée D’Orsay - opening later in the autumn.

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Impact & Engagement Awards: nominations for Department and Sedgwick Museum

6 October 2020

The Vice Chancellor’s Awards scheme was established in 2016 to recognise and celebrate excellence in research impact and public engagement. Members of the Department of Earth Sciences and the Sedgwick Museum were nominated for two awards this year; Rob Theodore, from the Sedgwick Museum, for the Professional Services Award, and Sanne Cottaar and her research team, in collaboration with Rob Theodore and Helen Devereux at the Sedgwick Museum, were nominated for the Collaboration Award. The Awards recognise outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity in devising and implementing ambitious engagement and impact plans which have the potential to create significant economic, social and cultural impact from and engagement with research.

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