The Earth has rusted heart.

"No one knows precisely what the composition of the center of the Earth is. This is one of the best kept secrets of our planet as mankind has never reached deeper than 12 km below its surface." writes  Tristan Vey in Le Figaro. In fact only laboratory experiments, seismological analysis and thermodynamic models can help us get a better understanding of this mysterious inner core. These show the existence of a liquid metallic outer core with a diameter of about 5000 km that contains a “small” and spinning solid inner core about 2400 km wide. While this solid part is almost exclusively composed of iron-nickel alloy (with a 16/1 ratio), seismological surveys have shown that the surrounding environment of liquified metal contains significant quantities of lighter elements such as sulphur, carbon, silicon as well as oxygen. But in what proportion?  More...

Arctic Melt

Processes controlling top, bottom and lateral melt of Arctic sea ice.

Coupled climate models have partly failed to predict the remarkable acceleration in the retreat of Arctic sea ice since the mid 1970s. Michel Tsamados with colleagues from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at Reading University use a bottom-up approach: including new physics in a stand alone (uncoupled) version of the Los Alamos CICE sea ice model, which in turn can be used in ocean-sea ice coupled models and fully coupled climate models. With thorough validation of the models against observations this methodology can contribute to significantly reduce the model response uncertainty in the next round of General Circulation Models (GCMs) results, CMIP6. More...

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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.