Escaping the pandemic – my experience as an exploration geologist in Yukon

If you had the chance to escape from the ongoing pandemic to a remote exploration geology camp in northern Canada, 150km from the closest town and only accessible by helicopter, would you take it?

I came to Cambridge to start my PhD in January 2020 and, although I was warmly welcomed, things were at first pretty uneventful. However, this changed dramatically with the sudden onset of COVID-19. I chose to return home to Canada where I continued to work on what I still hope to be a lab-based PhD. However, there are, of course, limitations to research from a bedroom 5000km from Cambridge!

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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.

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Dragon watching: unlocking mysteries of lizard movement

Image: Laura Wolf/Flickr.

Evolutionary biomechanist and NERC DTP PhD student Luke Grinham’s research focuses on the evolutionary transition from a quadrupedal style of movement to a bipedal one in reptiles.

I tend to take two different but complimentary approaches to answering my research questions: observations and interpretations of fossil material, and musculoskeletal anatomy and biomechanics of living reptiles. These two directives frequently inspire and inform findings in each other. I’ll give a brief overview what I tend to do here!

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Investigating Ethiopian volcanism: RiftVolc fieldwork in East Africa

Last year I travelled out to Ethiopia for fieldwork twice, quite a feat considering it had taken two years of broken limbs and civil unrest causing setbacks. Avoiding the rains and unseasonably hot conditions of the summer (although I didn’t quite manage to avoid the heatstroke) I visited the Butajira volcanic field in April and Fantale volcano in November.

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Arctic adventures: fieldwork on the Skaergaard intrusion, Greenland

Skaergaard is a classic example of a layered intrusion. It is a wonderful natural laboratory for geologists and highly photogenic, with its striking igneous layering. There is near 100% surface exposure as not much grows there; an advantage of its location at 68°N. We have just returned from a six week expedition, studying this fascinating intrusion.

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