Recent posts

Coral, wanted dead and alive; a brief excursion into the world of coral science

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on September 15, 2014 by Elspeth Robertson

  Today we have a guest post from Dr. Peter Tomiak who delves into the life and death of corals... I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology and Geology at the  University of Bristol in 2008. Subsequently I undertook a sponsored internship with Save The Elephants, in Samburu National Park Kenya, before starting a short term position alongside Prof. Adrian Lister at the Natural History Museum, London, constructing a database of radiocarbon dates for extinct Pleistocene mammals. At this point I moved away from terrestrial mammals, and into the marine realm. I completed my PhD, examining the nature and applications of coral skeleton, within the Earth Sciences Department at Bristol University  in 2013 ...more

HGVs - Henceforth Gas Vehicles?

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on September 19, 2014 by Charly Stamper

This post was inspired by my recent attendance at the ADBA UK Biomethane & Gas Vehicle conference. You may not own or drive a car, but it is almost inevitable that part of your day-to-day your is delivered by heavy goods vehicle (HGV). That Amazon parcel, the food you bought in the supermarket, the pint of beer you drunk in the all came on a lorry. This transport sector comprises a mere 2% of UK road traffic, yet is responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The majority of HGVs run on diesel, rather than petrol, due to its ability ...more

What causes high retraction rates in high-profile journals?

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on September 18, 2014 by Jon Tennant

A Nature News piece is out today featuring comments from me, about how high retraction rates correlate with impact factors in scholarly journals. However, the piece cherry picks my comments a little, and doesn't really go into that much depth. Bjorn Brembs  already has a response up, and seeing as when I was contacted for comments, I mentioned a piece of research from him and other colleagues, I feel it is in the spirit to echo what he mentions by publishing my full response to Nature here. In response to a tweet about an article on retraction rates, I was contacted ...more

What's geology got to do with it? 5 - Scottish Independence Referendum

Four Degrees - Published on September 11, 2014 by Flo Bullough

Flo summarises 5 geo-relevant policy issues that are likely to impact on the Scottish Independence Referendum. Sooooo apologies for the long blog holiday we've been on of late, Marion and I have had a fairly hectic summer, but fear not, we will be updating on a more regular basis from now on! Source - Wikimedia Commons, Credit: Smooth_O. Hitting the headlines in the UK this week is the impending referendum for Scottish Independence taking place on the 18th September. Latest polling suggests that the vote outcome is on a knife-edge. Either way, the build-up and inevitable political wrangling after the result undoubtedly ...more

Conference Highlights (Part 2)

Geology for Global Development - Published on September 15, 2014 by Joel Gill

Over on our Facebook page, we’ve recently been publishing a series of images showing some of the likely highlights of our annual conference next week (Friday 19th September, tickets still available). Here are the second batch… we showed some others last week! ...more

Monday paper: Mesocosm approach to quantify dissolved inorganic carbon percolation fluxes

G-Soil - Published on September 15, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Thaysen, E. M., Jessen, S., Ambus, P., Beier, C., Postma, D., and Jakobsen, I.. 2014. Technical Note: Mesocosm approach to quantify dissolved inorganic carbon percolation fluxes. Biogeosciences, 11, 1077-1084. DOI:10.5194/bg-11-1077-2014. Abstract Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) fluxes across the vadose zone are influenced by a complex interplay of biological, chemical and physical factors. A novel soil mesocosm system was evaluated as a tool for providing information on the mechanisms behind DIC percolation to the groundwater from unplanted soil. Carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2), alkalinity, soil moisture and temperature were measured with depth and time, and DIC in the percolate was quantified using a sodium hydroxide trap. Results showed good reproducibility between two ...more

A dark future sprouting from sealed soil

G-Soil - Published on September 12, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

A view of Quito (Ecuador). Credit: Martin Mergili. Click on the image to see the original picture and details in Imaggeo. Every year in Europe, soils covering an area larger than the city of Berlin are lost to urban sprawl and transport infrastructure. This unsustainable trend threatens the availability of fertile soils and groundwater reservoirs for future generations. A new report made public today by the European Commission recommends a three-tiered approach focused on limiting the progression of soil sealing, mitigating its effects and compensating valuable soil losses by action in other areas. Environment: Soil sealing in the EU threatens the ...more

Conference Registration

Geology for Global Development - Published on September 12, 2014 by Joel Gill

  One week to go... Register ...more

GfGD Conference - Skills for Sustainability

Geology for Global Development - Published on September 12, 2014 by Joel Gill

Credit: Rosalie Tostevin (2013) A core part of our upcoming conference programme is a session on 'Skills for Sustainability.' At our conference in 2013 we introduced a range of ways by which geologists can support the fight against global poverty, including hydrogeology, engineering geology, natural resource management, hazards and disaster reduction (and much more). This technical understanding of geology can have a huge impact on development, but for geologists to have maximum impact and effectiveness there are other key skills and disciplines to consider. In this post we introduce these skills and outline their importance... **Meaningful Consultation** The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the work of Professor ...more

Soils at Imaggeo: field in late summer after rain

G-Soil - Published on September 17, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Konstantinos Kourtidis Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, Greece Click on the image to see the original picture and details at Imaggeo. About Imaggeo Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. All the material in this database is copyrighted under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence, which means that Imaggeo content is owned ...more

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on September 3, 2014 by Jon Tennant

Top scientific publisher chooses not to advance open access By Erin McKiernan, independent, and Jon Tennant, Imperial College London Access to research is limited worldwide by the high cost of subscription journals, which force readers to pay for their content. The use of scientific research in new studies, educational material and news is often restricted by these publishers, who require authors to sign over their rights and then control what is done with the published work. In response, a movement that would allow free access to information and no restrictions on reuse – termed open access – is growing. Some universities and funding organisations, ...more

The Society for Neuroscience receiving both barrels

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on August 22, 2014 by Jon Tennant

Apologies for the third post about open access publishing in a row. Normal service will resume shortly! I wanted to bring attention to a second open letter published, inspired by our first one to the Association for the Advancement of American Science (AAAS). This letter was aimed at a smaller society, the Society for Neuroscience, and spearheaded by Erin McKiernan, who was also a signatory on the original letter. My thanks go out to Josh at The Winnower for such speedy publication of these letters, and to everyone who has contributed to these letters in some way so far. Do you know any publishers ...more

Plastic packaging - a horror film

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on August 11, 2014 by Charly Stamper

Zero Waste Week is an opportunity to reduce landfill waste & save money. In its seventh year, the week runs 1st - 7th September 2014. The theme is "One More Thing" - what one more thing could YOU do? Find out more at or on Twitter using #zerowasteweek Ever since I spent a summer working on a landfill site, I think twice before putting any items of rubbish in the bin. Yanley Landfill site, south Bristol, during the Balloon Fiesta in 2007. The site is now closed and is being restored to woodland. Photo credit: Charly Stamper Living In Bristol, I'm ...more

A much shorter review of flood stratigraphies in lake sediments

Geology Jenga - Published on August 8, 2014 by Daniel Schillereff

Earlier this year my PhD supervisors and I (Daniel) had a paper accepted for publication in Earth-Science Reviews entitled ‘Flood stratigraphies in lake sediments: A review’ (Schillereff et al., 2014). It’s been fairly popular in terms of downloads but it occurred to me the other day that many of those prospective readers may be put off somewhat by its hefty word count. Thus, putting together a shortened version outlining the main points and conclusions seemed wise! The review stems from my PhD research investigating whether sediment cores extracted from UK lakes contain distinct layers deposited by severe floods that occurred in ...more

GeoPoll #3 - What got you interested in geology?

GeoSphere - Published on August 7, 2014 by Matt Herod

After a bit of an opinion hiatus I am back with the third geopoll. Every day I go to work at a university department filled with geologists. All of us are tackling different questions, but in the beginning we all started at the same place. Namely, not knowing anything about geoscience. In my conversations with colleagues over the years it appears that there is no single way to get into geology. We all entered the field from different avenues. For example, some people found it through a first year course, others, like me, started out as mineral and fossil collectors when they were ...more

Moraines in Costa Rica? Really?

Geology Jenga - Published on June 29, 2014 by Daniel Schillereff

During a recent trip to Costa Rica in May, I had a conversation with some family and friends in which I uttered those words: “Moraines in Costa Rica? Really?” as they were describing a trek they’d undertaken earlier this year to the summit of Cerro Chirripó. This is the highest peak in the country (3819 m a.s.l.), part of the Cordillera de Talamanca (9°30′ N, 83°30′ W) in southern central Costa Rica. Relief of Costa Rica and location of Cerro Chirripó. Base map courtesy of Sting (WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0) Map board at entrance to Parque Nationale Chirrippo. Photo courtesy ...more

10 Minute Interview - The new Science of Geocognition

Geology Jenga - Published on July 24, 2014 by Laura Roberts-Artal

We are back! After a few weeks without posting, we thought it was about time we blogged! I have a HUGE backlog of 10 minute interviews that I have to transcribe from EGU 2014. The General Assembly was a great place to meet lots of young scientists doing all sorts of diverse and extremely interesting research. I've already posted a couple of interviews I carried out at EGU 2014 (you can read the one with Cindy Mora Stock here and the one with Young Scientist Representative Sam Illingworth here), but there are many more to come. Today is the first of ...more

The Search for Ithaca

GeoSphere - Published on July 21, 2014 by Matt Herod

This post unifies two of my absolutely favourite topics: geology and classical Greek history. I have always had a soft spot for the classics. In fact, when I started my undergrad I was planning on doing a double major of geology and classics. I decided to focus on geology, but I have not lost my love of ancient civilizations particularly the ancient Greeks and Romans. Odysseus (Source: Wikipedia) Most of us are familiar with the story of the Odyssey, but I'll recap it here briefly. The Odyssey is the tale of Kind Odysseus's journey back from Troy to his home island of Ithaca. ...more

Untangling EU Research Funding and Science Policy

Four Degrees - Published on April 29, 2014 by Flo Bullough

In this week's post, Flo talks us through the basic workings of the European Commission and how EU policy relates to science and research.  While the great and the good of academia are reaping the benefits of international research collaboration at EGU this week, and with the upcoming European elections in May I thought it was worth trying to write something on the EC and science policy. Especially as today's theme at EGU was the role of geoscientists in public policy. Now I realise that I say 'untangling EU science policy' in the title but this is no mean feat!  The ...more

Guest Post: Dr. John W. Jamieson - Using seafloor mapping to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370

GeoSphere - Published on June 16, 2014 by Matt Herod

On March 8th, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.  Evidence from satellite tracking suggests that the aircraft may have crashed into the Indian Ocean several 1,000 kms west of Australia and this is where the search is now focused.  No debris or oil slick related to the aircraft has so far been found.  However, signals consistent with the “pings” of the flight data recorder were detected in two areas, several 100 kms apart from each other.  A search of the northernmost location, using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) owned and operated by ...more

EGU 2014: Air pollution in the Anthropocene

Polluting the Internet - Published on May 1, 2014 by Will Morgan

One of the key strands of the EGU so far this year has been discussion of the proposed new geological time period known as the Anthropocene. This concept was first proposed by the ecologist Eugene Stoemer in the 1980's, with Nobel Prize Winner and atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen bringing renewed attention to the term in the early 21st Century. It refers to the concept that the impact of humans on our environment is worthy of its own epoch. I attended the EGU press conference 'Are we living in the Anthropocene?' on Tuesday, where atmospheric chemist John Burrows presented work on how ...more

Sand gets everywhere

Polluting the Internet - Published on June 6, 2014 by Will Morgan

Saharan dust is currently escaping the confines of the desert and making a break for it over the Atlantic Ocean towards South America. Below is a true colour image from the MODIS instrument on the TERRA satellite from this morning (6th June). You can see the dust from the desert over the ocean; note the constrast between the darker blue ocean surface and the lighter shade where the dust resides. Image of the dust plume on 6th June 2014 from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the TERRA satellite. Image courtesy of NASA. The strip of bright light across ...more

What's geology got to do with it? 4 - Tennis!

Four Degrees - Published on May 30, 2014 by Flo Bullough

 As part of the 'What's geology got to do with it?' series, Flo takes us on a tour of the links between geology and tennis! Warning: You may not want to read this if you have no interest in Geology OR tennis....  Now the disclaimer's out of the way, I thought it was about time I married two of my greatest loves in life, Geology and Tennis. These two interests may seem completely at odds in terms of relevance, but as is the beauty with geology, it relates to just about everything! So, summer in the northern hemisphere and therefore the two ...more

Global warming increases risk of winter flooding

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on May 2, 2014 by Simon Redfern

Britain’s warm, wet winter brought floods and misery to many living across southern England, with large parts of Somerset lying underwater for months. When in January rainfall was double the expected average over wide areas, many people made cautious links between such extreme weather and global climate change. There were nay-sayers at the time but it now seems that there is evidence for those links. Speaking at the European Geosciences Union annual meeting here in Vienna, Myles Allen, a professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford, presented his take on the issue. At the gathering of more than 12,000 ...more

EGU 2014: Measuring aerosol climate impacts from Space

Polluting the Internet - Published on May 4, 2014 by Will Morgan

In order to understand past climate change and to better project future changes, we need to understand how humans disturbed the radiative balance of our planet. Aerosols are one component of this disruption. The final report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) physical science basis concluded that aerosols dominate the uncertainty in the total anthropogenic radiative forcing. Radiative forcing refers to the change in the energy balance of the climate system; carbon dioxide traps energy within our atmosphere, which leads to a warming effect. Aerosols on the other hand stop sunlight from reaching the surface of the Earth, which leads to less energy ...more

Submarine eruptions create huge floating islands

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on April 30, 2014 by Simon Redfern

Floating pumice. Jeff Butterworth A team of scientists from the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand have modelled the fate of a huge floating raft of volcanic rocks that formed in 2012 during a submarine eruption of a Pacific volcano. Described in this month’s edition of Nature Communications, they show how satellite images of the floating-rock raft’s passage across the Pacific can be used to test models of ocean circulation. Their results could be used to forecast the dispersal of future pumice ...more

From synchrotron to super-volcano - buoyed up by magma

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on January 14, 2014 by Simon Redfern

Thank goodness Mount Sinabung isn’t a supervolcano. Binsar Bakkara/AP Devastating supervolcanoes can erupt simply due to changes that happen in their giant magma chambers as they slowly cool, according to a new study. This finding marks the first time researchers have been able to explain the mechanism behind the eruptions of the largest volcanoes on Earth. Geologists have identified the roots of a number of ancient and possible future supervolcanoes across the globe. No supervolcano has yet exploded in human history, but the rock record demonstrates how devastating any eruption would be to today’s civilisation. Perhaps most famous is the Yellowstone ...more


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