Geology for Global Development

Geology for Global Development

Introducing the GfGD National Committee (1)

Geology for Global Development has now been operating for around 18 months. In such a short time, the Founder and Director, Joel Gill, has overseen vast amounts of growth. GfGD has expanded beyond its initial horizons and so we have established a national committee. These positions were advertised through the blog over the past few months and have been enthusiastically taken up by a team of dedicated people. This means a big change in the way GfGD is run, and guided by the experience that Joel has picked up over the whirlwind first 18 months, we will now be able to work together to take GfGD even further.

I have been appointed as the Deputy Communications Officer. This means I work with our Communications Officer, Jane Robb, to deliver GfGD’s communications strategy. Jane will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of our communications. This will involve managing the website, social media (Facebook and Twitter) and newsletters, and thinking strategically about how we best get our message across to various groups. Her role is very much a cross-cutting one, and she’ll work to support the whole team in improving how we communicate the GfGD vision.

The blog has been a major part of GfGD’s work, and since Joel’s first post back in February 2011, we have had over  61,000 pageviews. We have now moved the blog to a new home, in the EGU Blog Network, where we will hopefully receive an even wider readership. The blog focuses on the intersection of Earth science with human lives, and exists to inform people about GfGD’s work, to spread the word about news and opportunities for geoscientists in the development sector and to raise awareness of different ethical issues relevant to geoscience.

I will be managing the blog, continuing to publish articles and photos three times a week. As before, you are welcome to submit guest blogs, photos, interviews and book reviews to be published on our blog. You can also volunteer to be a regular columnist, alongside Dan Sharpe and Alex Stubbings. We have a wide readership and want to reflect that by having a wide variety of posts from different people and places, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

This is my first post in charge of the blog, and I want to take the chance to introduce the new committee over the coming week, starting with the communications team: Myself and Jane Robb.

Communications Officer: Jane Robb

Jane has a BSc (Hons) in Geology from the University of Edinburgh and an MRes in Heritage Science from The Bartlett at UCL. She has four years’ experience in science communication in science centers, museums, teaching and developing resources for formal and informal secondary education. She is a published author in several science and cultural heritage publications, a fellow of the Geological Society of London, the Science Group web editor for the Institute of Conservation and responsible for implementing student experience initiatives and improving pedagogical practice across The Bartlett at UCL as their new Student Experience Fellow.

At GfGD, Jane’s role as Communications Officer on the National Committee has her overseeing all aspects of their communications: managing the website, social media, newsletters and thinking strategically about how to most effectively communicate GfGD’s vision to the wider community.

Deputy Communications Officer: Rosalie Tostevin

 I am a PhD student at University College London (UCL). My research ranges from modelling the sulphur cycle in the modern ocean to reconstructing seawater chemistry up to a billion years ago. I did my undergraduate Master’s degree at the University of Cambridge, where I worked on ‘Timetruck’, the department’s outreach programme. I have also spent time working in industry, as part of BP’s North Africa exploration unit.

This year, I have been working to build up the GfGD group at UCL, and I’m now joining our National Committee. I will manage the blog, and aim to encourage young geologists to enter the development sector, showcase good geoscience and bring you the latest news and opportunities in development and science communication. If you want to contribute to the blog, you can contact me by emailing blog[at]

Guilty: L’Aquila Earthquake Scientists Sentenced to 6 Years Imprisonment

As a young scientist undertaking research into natural hazards and disaster reduction, I found the decision yesterday to find a number of scientists guilty of manslaughter very worrying. The case against the scientists is centred on the L’Aquila earthquake of 2009 and argues that they were guilty of providing inexact, incomplete and contradictory” information.

There is helpful analysis and descriptions of the case and the charges available on a number of sites including New Scientist (including comment by Roger Musson from the British Geological Survey) and Nature (by Willy Aspinall, Cabot Professor of Natural Hazards and Risk at Bristol University). Professor Aspinall speaks with real authority and experience, drawing on experience from his time as Chief Scientist at Montserrat Volcano Observatory. It seems futile to repeat aspects of his discussion here when they have been so eloquently put elsewhere!

L’Aquila Earthquake (2009): Source: Wikipedia

Friday Photo (53) – Earthquake Emergency Shelter – Lanzhou, China

Lanzhou, China – Earthquake Emergency Shelter

Interesting questions about preparedness, local education and awareness were raised on a recent visit to Lanzhou, China, after I was told on a coach from the airport that Lanzhou was not affected by earthquakes. During my visit to the University there, I came across this sign which offered a stark contradiction. Lanzhou regularly experiences small earthquakes, and it has been impacted by less frequent, large earthquakes in the region.

(c) Geology for Global Development 2012

Workshop Advertisement: Dynamics and Impact of Interacting Natural Hazards

The workshop below may be of interest to some of our readers undertaking research into natural hazards, or working within the disaster risk reduction community. Please note that this workshop is not organised by Geology for Global Development:


 An interdisciplinary workshop on current research and future directions

14th‒15th February 2013

To be held at: University College London, London, UK

Convened by University College London, King’s College London, and the University of Southampton. 

Many populated areas are affected by more than one natural hazard, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, floods, storms, and wildfires. Different hazards can overlap in time and location, so that the total impact on a community is increased by interactions between the hazards. Example of interaction types include: 

  • One hazard triggering another or a cascade of hazards (e.g., an earthquake triggering a landslide, which dams a river and causes flooding).
  • One hazard changing the probability of another occurring (e.g., a wildfire removing vegetation and increasing the probability of landslides during storms).
  • Temporal changes in vulnerability during successive hazards (e.g., the damage to buildings during an earthquake may increase both the building and human population’s’ vulnerability to subsequent hazards, such as hurricanes or tsunamis).

Hazard assessments tend to focus on the impact of single hazards and so overlook the cumulative impact of interacting hazards. To advance current methods of assessment it is, therefore, essential to improve the characterisation and modelling of hazard interactions and their impacts. The results should be of immediate value to governmental and non-governmental agencies and to business.

This two-day workshop will bring together field practitioners, researchers and representatives from the academic, humanitarian, development, governmental and business sectors in order to evaluate the practical applications of current research and to define key directions for future investigations into the interaction of natural hazards. Although all relevant research is welcome, specific themes will be:

  • Methods for measuring or analysing the interactions between hazards
  • Evaluating and mitigating the impact of hazard interactions
  • Understanding temporal and spatial changes in vulnerability
  • Strategies for future interdisciplinary research in hazard interactions

We invite abstracts of no more than 300 words for oral or poster presentations in the specific themes above. Details and formatting guidelines for the submission of abstracts can be found on the conference website (details below). Abstracts may include a key figure or table. We anticipate that the conference will include a range of session types, and therefore the number of oral contributions may be restricted in order to encourage extended discussion. The registration process allows you to submit “Points for Discussion” which will be used to provide a framework for discussion and other interactive sessions.

The deadline for registration and the submission of abstracts and discussion points is 14th December 2012. There is a provisional limit of 40 places. To register, please complete the registration form.

For further information and details, please see the workshop website.