Paleo-environmental controls on the rise and fall of the Ediacaran Biota


The Ediacaran biota pose a riddle that scientists have grappled with for decades. Found in three distinct biotic assemblages – the Avalon (575–560 million years ago; Ma), White Sea (560–550 Ma), and Nama (550–539 Ma) – these peculiar Ediacaran organisms may hold the key to unlocking the secrets of early animal evolution. Conventional studies tie diversity and ecological changes across these assemblages to biological radiation and extinction events. Can a closer look at the preserved paleo-environments that contain the fossils, using our sedimentology and stratigraphy toolkit, offer a fresh perspective?

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Meet the PhD student using AI to improve forecasts of sea level extremes

Lisanne is in the first year of her PhD on sea level extremes, working with Cambridge Earth Science’s Dr Ali Mashayek and Dr. Andrea Marinoni (UiT the Arctic University of Norway). Lisanne’s project is hosted by the AI4ER (Application of Artificial Intelligence to the study of Environmental Risks) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. Lisanne talks to Erin about her research below.

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Behind the scenes of the Sedgwick Museum’s Petrology Collection, with Robert Seidel

Walk into the Sedgwick Museum and you are instantly immersed in a realm of fossil beasties: from the iconic Iguanodon from which the Museum derives its logo to the recently-discovered giant millipede, Arthropleura.

The Museum is perhaps less well known for its rock and mineral collections, which are of international scientific value and also serve as a key resource for teaching and research in the Department of Earth Sciences and elsewhere.

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Stepping from Science into Policy – Dorothea Moser on interning with the Government Office for Science

Dorothea is a fourth-year PhD student and polar ice core scientist based jointly between Cambridge’s Department of Earth Science and the British Antarctic Survey, where she investigates the characteristics of melt layers in ice cores and their potential for paleoclimate reconstruction. In Autumn 2023, Dorothea spent three months on an internship with the Government Office for Science. In this blog post, she talks about her experience.

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The deep ocean is closer than you think: scientific research and life at sea

Nick Reynard is a postdoc in the Centre for Climate Repair in Cambridge, working with Ali Mashayek’s research group at the Department of Earth Sciences. Here, Nick recounts his experience of boarding a five-week scientific cruise in search of the deep Antarctic waters that rise in the Madagascar Basin.

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Reporting on the inaugural environmental geochemistry field trip to Provence

The Department recently launched its new Part II environmental geochemistry field projects as an alternative to the successful and long-standing mapping projects.

According to Ed Tipper, co-director of undergraduate teaching, “The decision reflects the diverse research areas of our teaching staff, combined with a growing student interest in pressing environmental issues. This year, 13 students enrolled in the new type of project, making it viable to develop a new field trip to train students ready for this environmental pathway.”

The following blog post is written by Tom Marquand, PhD student in the Department and demonstrator on the inaugural environmental geochemistry field trip to Provence, France.

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