Cambridge at the Goldschmidt 2022 Conference

Alasdair Knight,  a second year PhD student in the Department of Earth Sciences, reports back from the 2022 Goldschmidt conference in the blog post below.

Alasdair can normally be found researching the chemical reactions that occur between greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere and the rocks at Earth’s surface. These reactions are thought to have been important for keeping Earth within the correct temperature range for life to exist. 

This year’s Goldschmidt conference was held in the Rainbow State of the USA: Hawaii – and I was lucky enough to attend and present my PhD research.

For us in-person attendees, the 11,200 km journey provided a chance to relax and unwind with a wide range of in-flight entertainment options. For others, the absence of free WIFI gave them a unique, email-free opportunity to begin writing their presentations.

Despite the inevitable jet-lag upon arrival, our enthusiasm was in no way suppressed, and my fellow PhD students and I seized the opportunity to explore the city of Honolulu and the surrounding areas of the island of O’ahu. For those unfamiliar with the climate of Hawaii, it soon became apparent why the Rainbow State is a particularly apt nickname.

Online attendees also couldn’t escape the 11 hour time difference, with presentations going on into the early hours of the morning — the temptation to present from the comfort of their beds was probably quite palpable.

The venue for the conference was the Hawaii Convention Centre – “Where Business and Aloha Meet” – a large, airy venue, complete with its own indoor waterfall, and also within dangerous proximity of the beach. 

Researchers from Cambridge presented their work on an impressively wide array of topics, from the iron isotopic signatures of mantle plumes (rather fittingly for Hawaii), to the removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide via the enhanced weathering of carbonate minerals. I got a chance to speak about my own research on how we have overestimated the rate of carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere, through the overestimation of silicate weathering. 

For a number of the conference attendees, this was the first in-person conference since the pandemic started, and a great opportunity to meet researchers from around the world. For many others, it provided a welcome opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends from around the world.

One particular highlight of the conference was the ThermoFischer evening party, held at the Waikiki Brewery. This event was well attended, in part thanks to an abundance of free food and drink – a draw for any graduate student. On the penultimate night, attendees were rewarded with a rooftop sunset party where everyone flocked to enjoy a Mai Tai (or many in some cases) over inquisitive discussions about the day’s talks. A Hula band performing traditional Hawaiian music as the sun went down marking the close of what had been an incredible week.

Between conference events, researchers also (unsurprisingly) found time to unwind on the local beaches of Honolulu, as well as sampling some of the Hawaiian food specialities, such as poke bowls, shave ice, and fresh pineapple. 

Despite the long journeys and/or late nights, overall the experience was highly rewarding one and the conference organisers deserve a ‘mahalo nui loa’ for a well-organised Goldschmidt conference.

Feature image: credit Erik Cooper on Flickr.

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