Archives / 2012 / March

A first-timers guide to the 2012 General Assembly

Will this be your first time at an EGU General Assembly? With over 10,000 participants in a massive venue, the GA can be a confusing and, at times, overwhelming place.  To help you find your way, Jennifer Holden, former EGU Science Communications Fellow and a regular attendee of the meeting, prepared an introductory handbook filled with history, useful presentation pointers, and tips about Vienna and its surroundings.  Download it from here!

Empty poster hall at the EGU General Assembly.

Seismic Spring, part 2: Planes, trains and snowmobiles

As the Arctic wakes up from its polar night, Dr Adam Booth is leading a team of UK geophysicists on a two-week campaign of seismic investigations on Storglaciären, a mountain glacier in northern Sweden. He is reporting on the expedition in a series of posts published here in GeoLog. This is his second post, and the first from the research station itself. Check out the first post here.

Hello, from Tarfala Research Station!  After 48 hours of travel, it’s really satisfying to be able to say these words! For those who like visualising journeys as a red line that links points on a map, Tavi, Charlotte, Roger and myself have traveled between:

• Swansea and London (by train – although Roger actually got a lift down from Leeds…),

• London and Stockholm (by plane),

• Stockholm and Kiruna (by overnight train),

• Kiruna and Nikkaluokta (by local bus), and finally

• Nikkaluokta to Tarfala Research Station (by snowmobile – see figure below for a close-up!).

Snowmobile route from Nikkaluokta to Tarfala, across Láddjujávri lake and up into Tarfala Valley; Storglaciären (SG) is highlighted, south-west of Tarfala (grid squares are 2km). Inset photos: Roger and I are all smiles, as we head out of Nikkaluokta (right). An Alltransport snowmobile under a darkening sky (centre). The Alltransport crew prepare to haul our kit up a steep slope in Tarfala Valley (left).

As lengthy as our journey was, it was only its last leg that posed any real problem – but this was most impressively overcome for us by Erik Sarri and his team of snowmobile aces at Nikkaluokta Alltransport.  We left Nikkaluokta on snowmobile sleds with just a few flakes of snow in the air, although the sky became heavier as we crossed the frozen Láddjujávri lake.  Twenty minutes later, we entered Tarfala Valley, where our drivers faced steep, deep snowdrifts and the occasional white-out, with a strong wind lashing the loose snow into their visors.  But with a combination of experience and sheer determination, Alltransport ensured that four scientists and 400kg of seismic kit were safely delivered to Tarfala Research Station.  Thanks a million to all the team!

I was last in Tarfala in summer 2009, again as part of a study of Storglaciären. Back then, every day for two weeks, Alessio Gusmeroli and I could look up to the glacier before setting off at a leisurely stroll.  Right now, Storglaciären cannot even be seen from Tarfala because the wind hasn’t eased up at all (gusting at up to 80kph!) so, beyond the dozen-or-so buildings that make up the research station, the world appears completely white!  To prove that Storglaciären is still there, Andreas Bergström (Tarfala’s station manager) and I tried to snowmobile a box of equipment onto the glacier this afternoon (see below).

Almost my first view of Storglaciären this spring...! I’m waiting with the equipment, while Andreas and the snowmobile (circled) attempt the climb. The view looks almost west, from the forefield of the glacier.

The complicating factor here is that the front of Storglaciären is quite steep.  Whilst Andreas could get the unladen snowmobile up the slope, it got bogged down when towing cargo.  It’s a problem of snow conditions: despite the wind, air temperatures are actually quite warm – it got slightly above 0°C today – and this partial melting makes the snow dense, sticky, and uncooperative when we’re struggling to tow geophysical equipment!  What we need is a big chill – a calm, cold night to refreeze the snow, and we’re expecting these conditions in a few days.

So, I’m forced to hand the initial victory to the weather!  But it’s not all bad news – we’ve had time today to unpack, check and organise all of our equipment, and Charlotte has been practicing walking on snowshoes.  As the photographer here, I tried to follow in her footsteps, but sank straight into the thigh-deep drift!  Clear proof – snowshoes really do work!

Charlotte test-driving the snowshoes around Tarfala. In my normal boots, I couldn’t stand on the same snowdrift (I’m sure it’s more about pressure than weight...!).

If the wind eases tomorrow, we’ll power up some of the equipment and test it around Tarfala, and hopefully we’ll get some kit up onto the ice.  Wish us luck, and I’ll keep you posted!

Useful links: Nikkaluokta AlltransportAlessio Gusmeroli

By Adam Booth, post-doc at Swansea University

Imaggeo on Mondays: Quito and Cotopaxi

Quito and Cotopaxi by Martin Mergili, distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

Quito and Cotopaxi by Martin Mergili, distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

The sky is painted purple in this stunning evening photo taken near Quito, Ecuador. The country’s second most populous city is illuminated by artificial light, and Cotopaxi, an active volcano forming part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, looks out in the background.

Located about 28 km south of Quito, Cotopaxi is the second highest summit in Ecuador (5,897 m) and features one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world. Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times, including some disastrous events during the 18th and 19th centuries. Its activity continues to impact the surrounding landscape considerably. A major eruption of Cotopaxi could produce a lot of meltwater from the ice cap. The resulting mudflows of volcanic fragments may also affect part of suburban Quito, thought to house over a million people.

Geomorphologist Martin Mergili took this picture in 2007 during a field excursion with a team from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. “The photo was taken from the Cruz Loma hill at an altitude of about 4,000 m in the Western Cordillera of Ecuador. In that region just south of the equator, the Andes are divided into two major chains. The Eastern Cordillera is dominated by the ice-capped Cotopaxi stratovolcano shown in the background, which is one of the highest active volcanoes worldwide. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is located at approximately 2,850 m above sea level on a terrace above the longitudinal valley separating the Eastern and the Western Cordillera,” he explains.

To view more from Martin Mergili’s collection of photos, many of which have geoscientific relevance, please visit:

Imaggeo is the online open access geosciences image repository of the European Geosciences Union. Every geoscientist who is an amateur photographer (but also other people) can submit their images to this repository. Being open access, it can be used by scientists for their presentations or publications as well as by the press. If you submit your images to imaggeo, you retain full rights of use, since they are licenced and distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

Presenting at the 2012 General Assembly

Oral Presentations

The guidelines for oral presentations are online. The link also specifies the equipment available in each room (laptop, beamer, microphone, laser pointer, ability to hook up your own laptop, etc.). Oral presentations this year are in four 90-minute time blocks, with each talk being about 12 minutes long with 3 minutes for questions. Please be in the presentation room approximately 30 minutes before your time block starts, so your presentation can be uploaded to the provided laptop or so you can connect your laptop to the system.

Austria Center Vienna by night during last year's General Assembly


Guidelines for poster presentations are also online. Importantly, the required dimensions of poster boards are 197 cm x 100 cm (landscape). Posters should be hung between 08:00 and 08:30 in the morning using tape available from roaming student assistants. By the start of the Assembly, EGU will have sent your poster location (e.g. XY0439) by email. Locations are also listed online in the programme. You can find the exact location of your poster using the online floor plans. At the end of each day, the student assistants will carefully remove posters and place them in storage bins in the poster halls, labeled by day.

The Authors in Attendance Time will also have been sent to you. Note that some sessions may have a poster walk-through (in some cases this will be noted in the session details), where authors are asked to summarise their poster with other members of their session in attendance. Other sessions will comprise scheduled poster summaries and discussion.

A list of the equipment in PSD (Poster Summaries & Discussions) rooms is on the EGU GA website, as are guidelines for converners.

Time Blocks

Timetabling at the General Assembly is in four time blocks as follows:
TB1 08:30–10:00
TB2 10:30–12:00
TB3 13:30–15:00
TB4 15:30–17:00

There is free tea and coffee available in the poster halls in the breaks between TB1 & TB2 and TB3 & TB4.


Including your abstract in the conference programme obliges you, or one of your co-authors, to present your contribution at the time and in the mode indicated. If you already know that your oral will not be presented, you are kindly requested to withdraw your corresponding abstract as soon as possible.