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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Supporting our Department’s Queer community

First days at a new school can be intimidating, and my first day coming to Cambridge’s Earth Sciences Department to begin my MPhil degree in Michaelmas term 2019 was especially so.

I had just moved overseas from America to a country I had never even visited before, and I didn’t know a single person. When I stepped inside, there was something that put me at ease: the proliferation of pride flag stickers all around the department. Immediately, I felt that this was a place where I would be accepted, and as I settled in and met more people over the next few weeks and months, I was quickly proven right.

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An update on WACSWAIN: WArm Climate Stability of the West Antarctic during the last INterglacial

This joint project between the Department of Earth Sciences and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) aims to constrain estimates of if, how and when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) retreated during the Last Interglacial (LIG), 130 to 115 thousand years ago.

Evidence suggests that sea level during the LIG peaked at between 6 and 9 metres higher than present, a range which necessitates at least some contribution from Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat, the WAIS being the most likely candidate. Antarctic temperatures during this time period were in line with projections for the year 2100. These figures warn of the potential for significant future sea level rise resulting from anthropogenic climate change.

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Forgotten fossils: how museum collections can be a treasure trove

Palaeontology isn’t all about adventuring into the desert to dig up rocks. Sometimes, the palaeontologists of the past managed to find so many fossil bones, they didn’t know what to do with them. These bones can lie forgotten in museum collection drawers for decades, until a PhD student comes along to study them.

Fortunately for me, some of the most commonly overlooked fossils are fragmentary, isolated bones belonging to tiny animals. As a palaeontologist who works on passerine birds, which are generally tiny (think robins and blue tits), I was very excited to go on my first museum trip to look at bird fossils. In December 2022, I visited several museums in southern Germany to poke through all the drawers that might contain some mystery bird bones.

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GeoVarsity competition back after 4 year hiatus

4th Year Earth Scientist Ellie Austin reports on the GeoVarsity games

Perhaps spending your Saturday afternoon falling around in mud and losing football matches to people who refuse to refer to you as anything other than a “Tab” isn’t your cup of tea. But it must’ve been someone’s*, since the tradition of GeoVarsity football has been running almost every year (bar the pandemic) since 2006 (with the concept of GeoVarsity running back until the 1990s!). 

GeoVarsity football began as a simple idea: invite some academics from ‘the other place’ round for a friendly game of football and see who has the best sporting ability (which is of course completely correlated to academic standing). 

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