UCL Earth Sciences

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Arctic Base Camp Event at Davos.

UCL Professor Julienne Stroeve once again participated in the Arctic Base Camp at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. Several scientists came together to talk about Arctic climate change and impacts on the rest of the world, followed by talks from industry leaders who focused on solutions.

Published: Jan 26, 2018 10:26:00 AM

Blaven Mountain

Impact Ejecta Layer At The Base Of Lavas On Skye Contains Unmelted Impactor Fragments.

In a collaboration between five institutions led by the UCL-Birkbeck Institute of Earth and Planetary Sciences*, geologists have discovered a 0.9-metre thick ejecta layer at the base of the Mid-Paleocene lava series, overlying Mesozoic sedimentary rocks at two localities on the Isle of Skye. The layer contains shocked minerals, metals, glasses and a variety of shocked rocks including basement gneiss, with lapilli and glass shards sharing several textural similarities with volcanic ignimbrites.
Metallic iron forms spherules with ferro-silicate glass, and irregular native iron grains with oxidized rims and barringerite (Fe,Ni2P). Rare carbo-nitrides and nitride minerals like osbornite with vanadium (TiVN) are interpreted as unmelted impactor remnants.

Published: Dec 21, 2017 10:26:00 AM

2017-12-Research Highlight

Research Highlights

In November this year Andrew Thomson and John Brodholt visited the European Synchrotron facility in Grenoble (ESRF) to measure the seismic properties of CaSiO3 perovskite at high pressures and temperatures. Although CaSiO3 perovskite only makes up about 5% of the lower mantle as a whole, it makes up as much as 30% of subducting oceanic crust.
We hope, therefore, to be able to use our measured velocities to trace subducted crust into the lower mantle and understand what happens to old ocean crust in the deep Earth. For instance, does oceanic crust just get smeared out and mixed back into the rest of the mantle, or could it separate out and form distinct reservoirs in the mantle? More...

Published: Dec 20, 2017 10:26:00 PM


Making a (Green) Impact.

As Earth scientists, we are aware of the burden that modern society places on the environment, but as a community, we have perhaps ignored the impact of our department in recent years – not anymore! We are joining the“…UCL-wide environmental competition and accreditation scheme that allows departments and divisions across the university to improve their environmental impact, support UCL's Sustainability Strategy and engage peers and colleagues with these essential issues.” (Green UCL, ucl.ac.uk/greenucl). We want you to get involved!
The impending move into the Kathleen Lonsdale Building makes this the perfect time to get our green hats on. The new KLB (which is due to be completed in January 2018) is perhaps surprisingly, hiding many advanced technologies within its construction that should reduce our environmental impact. There are motion-sensitive lights, CO2 monitored heating and our energy consumption can be monitored from overseas. So, we really have no excuse not to ace this – and we are aiming for a Bronze award by the end of July. More...

Published: Dec 20, 2017 11:26:00 AM

2017-12-Logic seminars

Research Seminars Series

The London Geochemistry & Isotope Centre (LOGIC) was launched in 2016 and combines research teams and facilities in geochemistry at UCL and Birkbeck colleges. It is an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental research group, carrying out chemical and isotopic investigations of natural materials (rocks, soils, waters, and air) using a variety of analytical and experimental approaches to investigate processes both now and in the past. At the moment 18 academic staff, 8 research staff, 10 PhD students and 3 technicians are involved in the LOGIC group. LOGIC meetings, whether informal seminars or formal talks, are held every Wednesday at 1pm. By the start of this academic year, there have been 28 LOGIC talks, covering a wide range of topics from Earth’s oldest hydrothermal deposits to modern mine wastes and arsenic contamination. Diverse geochemical approaches, from non-traditional stable isotopes (e.g. Cd, Se) to rare earth elements and geochemical modelling have all been discussed. More...

Published: Dec 20, 2017 11:26:00 AM

2017-12-SoapBox Science

Soapbox Science: Art and Science 2017

Soapbox Science is an international public outreach platform supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), L’Oréal and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Different public spaces are transformed into areas similar to London Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner, and members of the public can stop to hear all about exciting scientific initiatives and ask questions. Founded by two women scientists, Seirian Sumner (UCL) and Nathalie Pettorelli (ZSL), Soapbox Science aims to promote women in science and the research they do. So far, it has been launched in UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Ireland and Germany. More...

Published: Dec 20, 2017 11:26:00 AM

2017-12-Message from HoD

Message from the Head of the Department

It has been an exciting year in the Department of Earth Sciences. Renovation of the Kathleen Lonsdale Building is nearing completion. This 28 million pound project will see tremendous benefits for our department including co-location for the first time in living memory, new research laboratories, dedicated teaching labs, re-housing of all of our teaching, research, and museum collections, and new MSc/MSci workrooms and PhD offices.
Students will benefit from integration into the department with new social hub spaces and teaching areas in close proximity to academic staff offices, and much improved teaching facilities. We should be fully moved in by the end of January, 2018 with just the central foyer and stair case to be wrapped up by mid-March 2018. Mark your calendars for the KLB grand opening event on April 17 highlighted by a very special guest of honour. More...

Published: Dec 20, 2017 10:26:00 AM


Alumni News – the Greenough Dining Club 2017.

This year’s Greenough Dining Club event – the annual dinner for staff, students, and alumni of the Department – was held on the 24th November in what is now referred to as the “Jeremy Bentham Room”, but which is still probably better known to many alumni at the “Upper Refectory”. Although the attendance this year didn’t match that of the 2016 “Wendy Special in the tent in the Front Quad”, over 50 people attended, with the graduation dates of our returning alumni ranging from the 1960s to 2017. More...

Published: Dec 20, 2017 10:26:00 AM



In the summer of my 1st year (2017), I endeavoured in volunteering as a Project Worker for Education Partnerships Africa (EPAfrica). After reaching my fundraising target of £2,100, we were set to fly to Kenya on 27th June. Shortly after arriving in our project county of Kisii we were assigned to our schools for 8 weeks to undertake project work. I was volunteering with my fellow project partners (Matt and Nurul) in 2 schools, Buyonge Secondary School and Gakero SDA school. We were based within our rural communities and living in basic but empowering conditions; without running water and limited access to electricity.
Our work involved investing our own fundraised monies into undertaking projects that would improve the school and facilitate learning. A few of our projects involved installing water tanks, gas and water into labs, creating extra library space for independent study and careers days/ murals. More...

Published: Dec 20, 2017 10:26:00 AM


Independent Mapping Experience

As a 3rd year Geologist, mention of the words ‘Independent Mapping’ can sometimes conjure up a general feeling of unease, distress and impending doom. It seems however, in our case, the symptomatic clamminess and tightness of the chest was most readily alleviated by our beautiful wagon.
In the case of our gang (Charlie R, Martin N, Arnold K, Oliver S), we set out to traverse Western Europe and the Swiss Alps in a 23 year-old pink Volvo 850SE.

Published: Dec 20, 2017 10:26:00 AM