Could there be life on Venus? Dr Paul Rimmer explains

A UK-led team of astronomers recently discovered a rare molecule – phosphine – in the clouds of Venus that could have been created by microbes.

We caught up with one of the co-authors of the study – Dr Paul Rimmer, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Earth Sciences Cambridge with affiliations at Cavendish Astrophysics and the MRC Labratory of Molecular Biology, to hear more about this extraordinary finding – and what it means for life beyond Earth. 

Continue reading “Could there be life on Venus? Dr Paul Rimmer explains”

Research in Lockdown: Fieldwork Disrupted

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Java; image credit: NationalGeographic/Manamana

My PhD concerns a longstanding question—how do valuable metals move through volcanic systems? Since starting my PhD in September 2018, I’ve been looking forward to testing my hypotheses on this topic in the field, on a six-week expedition called the Metals in Magmas field campaign. Like many Earth scientists, I spent months planning the project’s logistical and technical details. But, two weeks before the fieldwork was set to begin, the outbreak of the current global pandemic stopped the project in its tracks. My plans are now on hold and my PhD can’t continue as originally billed. In this blog post, I hope to share my perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on my PhD research.

Continue reading “Research in Lockdown: Fieldwork Disrupted”

Imaging of North-Sulawesi subduction in the Celebes Sea

How does subduction start? The answer to this question remains enigmatic and controversial. The process of subduction, which drives global plate tectonics and helps to shape the Earth as we know it, began as early as 4.1 Ga, but how the first subduction zone initiated remains unknown. Some have argued that the plate tectonic cycle was kick-started by spontaneous subduction at passive continental margins, yet such a phenomenon has thus far not been observed in a modern plate tectonic setting. Consequently, scientists have a very limited understanding of what mechanisms may initiate spontaneous subduction.

Continue reading “Imaging of North-Sulawesi subduction in the Celebes Sea”

Deep Earth Explorers

In this blog post, Jess Bartlet answers questions about her experiences as a Public Engagement Coordinator within Dr Sanne Cottaar’s deep Earth research group. Together, they seek to unravel and expose the mysteries of the Earth, thousands of kilometres beneath our feet. Working with the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Jess is developing a series of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities to plunge the general public deep into the Earth’s interior from March 2020.

Continue reading “Deep Earth Explorers”