Volcanology is undergoing an aerial revolution. Drone technology is changing the way we collect data across the geosciences, especially in fields that require measurements over large spatial areas or in potentially hazardous locations; not only can we see the Earth from a new perspective, but we can also collect measurements and samples from places that would be otherwise inaccessible. As global populations now live closer to active volcanoes than ever before, volcano monitoring – through measuring gas emissions or topographic changes, for example – is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. In this talk, I will introduce how aerial strategies are improving our ability to both monitor and respond to volcanic hazards, and how these approaches are being integrated into operational monitoring at volcano observatories around the world. Drawing on my own active research from volcanoes in Papua New Guinea, Hawai’i and the South Sandwich Islands, I will highlight how we are now pushing the frontiers of drone design and deployment to fly higher and further than ever before; targeting beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights at high-altitude active volcanoes.
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a 25 km long stormwater storage tunnel beneath the River Thames in central London. It is the largest and deepest tunnel in the Capital and the largest-ever construction project in the UK water industry.
The tunnel has a diameter of 8.3 m (big enough to fit three double-decker buses) and is as much as 65m in depth, in ground that has never been uncovered until now.
The geology has not given up its secrets easily, though, and giant tunnel boring machines have been used to dig through a variety of materials that make up a sequence of strata, showing how the ground beneath the city has evolved through time and changing landscapes.
Twenty deep shafts have been dug to connect the tunnel with the existing sewer network beneath London’s streets, revealing a passage through time, from near-surface skeletons and shipwrecks of the last few hundred years to the deeper chalk, deposited when southern England was submerged beneath a warm, deep sea.
Some 359 million years ago there was a terrestrial mass extinction at the boundary between the Devonian and Carboniferous Periods. Major extinctions include all the armoured fish and important groups within the land plants. In East Greenland there are a number of good localities where we can find the terrestrial extinction layer. These are in the arid centre of the Old Red Sandstone Continent some 1000 km from the sea. The boundary is found in a large deep wide lake that represents a highly active monsoon system showing the climate was globally warm. It is from these lake deposits that we can isolate the tough outer wall layers of pollen and spores that normally protect the cell’s DNA from UV radiation. In the middle of the lake bed there are malformed pollen and spores that demonstrate that the extinction was coincident with elevated UV-B radiation and a reduced protective ozone layer. Mercury analyses show there is no evidence for continental scale volcanic eruptions that were responsible for the end Permian, end Triassic and Late Devonian mass extinctions. A possible cause of ozone loss is increased transport of naturally ozone destroying chemicals into the atmosphere. An important conclusion is that ozone loss during rapid warming is inherent in the Earth System and that we should be alert for the same process occurring in our rapidly warming world. Other suggested and now recently restated causes include a cosmic ray blast from an exploding star, i.e. a supernova..
Extinction events have shaped the evolution of life on Earth; but it is the scale and reach of mass-extinctions that have drawn most attention. At least five such mass-extinctions have occurred in the past 500 million years, the largest marked the beginning of the Age of the Dinosaurs (252 million years ago), but one of the smallest of the big five (65 million years ago) hailed the end of their reign on Earth. One facet of mass-extinctions causing heated debate is the timing of such events. In relation to dinosaurs the timing-debate has centred on whether they went extinct ‘with a bang’ or a long drawn-out ‘whimper’. The discovery of a 110-mile wide and 12-mile deep feature below the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) coupled with evidence to support it was made by a meteorite impact at the end of the Cretaceous, sealed a catastrophic fate for dinosaurs. However, to temporally resolve events at the point of a major meteorite impact is tough. No single locality had provided evidence that showed both the direct effect of the impact upon life, nor anything on the diurnal timing of such events. However, an exciting new site in the Badlands of North Dakota (USA), offers physical and chemical evidence that clearly connects with the Chicxulub impact event. The site contains a ‘death assemblage’ of hundreds of animals along with typical 1-mm diameter glassy microtektite spherules from the Chicxulub impact that are intimately associated with the fossil remains. Other finds include charred tree trunks with amber containing impact-derived glass, dinosaur footprints filled with event deposits, and impact glass at several levels in the event deposit, including the distinctive Iridium-rich ‘tonstein’ (impact debris) that caps the event deposit. There is even a burrow preserved at the KPg boundary that sheds light on our mammalian ancestor’s survival strategies from a time that life on earth came close to being extinguished. This new site provides the first ever timing of events on the last day of the Cretaceous.
vFoG Live Break Out Rooms
12.30 – 2.00
General GA Meeting Room Hosted by the GA President – Vanessa Banks & Tony Doré