Postgraduate Open Day MAPS

Postgraduate Open Day - at Mathematical & Physical Sciences.

The open day is a chance for prospective students for taught and research postgraduate degrees (MSc, MRes, PhD) to find out more about UCL's courses, as well as to meet potential tutors. It's also an opportunity to visit UCL's campus and see if this is the place for you. More...

Sowerby Book by P. Henderson

James Sowerby: the Enlightenment’s natural historian.

Who wanted to know about the science of minerals, meteorites and fossils? Quite a lot of people – including Humphry Davy, William Wollaston, William Smith and Joseph Banks – at the turn of the eighteenth century. A key player in meeting their needs was James Sowerby (1757-1822) who had the skills and resources to discover, illuminate and inform as well as being the focus of a network of active natural historians. Sowerby is often overlooked as a major contributor but that is a mistake. He might have lacked the social status of many scientists but he produced a remarkable body of original work that is still applicable to the present day. The first full biography of Sowerby by Paul Henderson is now published, is well illustrated and gives a fascinating insight into the science of those times. More...

News from the Earth Sciences

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Precambrian Research Group

The Precambrian is the informal name for the first 90% of Earth history during which life began its incredibly long journey towards biological complexity. 

This journey culminated in the appearance and diversification of animals between about 750 and 540 million years ago. Sedimentary rocks become increasingly scarce the further back in time one looks. For this reason, Precambrian studies are multidisciplinary by necessity, piecing together clues from a range of fields: geochemistry, palaeobiology, biochemistry, sedimentology, genetics and a range of earth system models (atmospheric, ocean circulation, climate and biogeochemical).

Our research group primarily uses the chemical, mineral and isotopic composition of sedimentary rocks to reconstruct earth system evolution during the two billion year interval from the end of the Archaean Eon (about 2500 million years ago) to the beginning of the Phanerozoic Eon (about 540 million years ago). During this Proterozoic Eon, extraordinary perturbations occurred to our planet’s surface environment. Some disturbances were extreme but transient, such as the ‘Snowball Earth’ intervals of global glaciation. Others caused irreversible changes that shaped the modern earth system, such as the ‘Great Oxidation Event’ and the ‘Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event’ without which we would not be here today.