Colloquium: climate change and geological hazards
10 September 2009
UCL is hosting a conference to examine the impact of climate
change on geological and geomorphological phenomena.
The UCL Johnston-Lavis Colloquium 2009 will take place between Tuesday 15 September and Thursday 17 September at the university's Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre.
The event is supported by UCL, Oxford University, the Met Office, the British Geological Survey and the British Antarctic Survey.
Evidence from the past reveals that times of dramatic climatic change are also characterised by elevated geological activity. This is best demonstrated during the Holocene period (the last 10,000 years), during which climbing temperatures, melting ice and rising sea levels - following the end of the last ice age - triggered a vigorous response from the Earth's crust.
Most notably, this included a significant rise in the level of volcanic activity as ice loss and ocean loading modified the stresses acting on volcanoes at high latitudes and altitudes and around the margins of the oceans. Other effects included rises in seismic activity in previously glaciated areas, in some places - for example off the coast of Norway - triggering gigantic submarine landslides and resultant tsunamis.
At next week's conference, delegates will revisit past climates in order to examine relationships with hazardous geological phenomena, and look ahead towards prospects for contemporary climate change eliciting a response from the Earth beneath our feet.
Topics addressed will range from the relationship between volcanism and climate, through climate change as a trigger for earthquakes, rock avalanches, debris flows and tsunamis, to the worrying issue of gas hydrate stability and the climate connection.
A future breakdown of these vast submarine reserves of solid methane, as the Earth heats up, has the potential to rapidly increase the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and accelerate warming dramatically.
For more information about the UCL Johnston-Lavis Colloquium 2009 follow the link above.
Image: a volcano erupting