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Department of Earth Sciences

Earth Sciences News

UK fracking industry would need strict controls to minimise spill risk

Strict controls would be “a necessity” to minimise the risk of spills and leaks from any future UK shale gas industry, according to new research.

(15 Feb 2018) » UK fracking industry would need strict controls to minimise spill risk


UK fracking industry would need strict controls to minimise spill risk

Strict controls would be “a necessity” to minimise the risk of spills and leaks from any future UK shale gas industry, according to new research.

The recommendation comes from scientists who have investigated the possible risk of spills from well sites and tankers used to transport chemicals and contaminated fluids to and from fracking sites.

The research, by the ReFINE (Researching Fracking in Europe) consortium, jointly led by Durham and Newcastle universities, estimated the potential for spills from any future UK shale gas industry by examining data related to the UK’s milk and fuel transportation industries and from the oil and gas industry in parts of the USA.

(15 Feb 2018) » UK fracking industry would need strict controls to minimise spill risk


Dr George Cooper Awarded Geological Society Murchison Fund

Congratulations to George Cooper who has been awarded the The Murchison Fund of the Geological Society of London. The Murchison Fund is awarded to early career geoscientists who have made excellent contributions to the research of ‘hard' rock geology and its application. George is part of the Volcanology Group and has been recognised for his research into magmatic plumbing systems. George will receive the award at a ceremony in London in June.

(2 Feb 2018)


Dr Charlotte Adams Awarded Geological Society Aberconway Medal.

Assistant Professor Dr Charlotte Adams has been awarded the Aberconway Medal by the Geological Society. This prestigious medal is awarded for excellence in applied geoscience and reflects Charlotte's ground breaking work in ultra-low enthalpy geothermal energy. Heat can be extracted from the water flooded coal mines. The legacy of mines in the UK, their abundance and their distribution is such that most of the major population centres in the UK could have heat supplied from such mines allowing the UK to improve its energy security while simultaneously decarbonising heat. Translation of theory to practise is underway!

(2 Feb 2018)


Durham Earth Scientist wins two awards for research

Congratulations to Professor Bob Holdsworth (Earth Sciences) who has been awarded two medals in recognition of his contribution to geological sciences within the UK and internationally. The Coke Medal of the Geological Society of London (the chartered UK professional body for the science) has been awarded in recognition of Bob’s contribution to the science and for significant service to geoscience, for example through administrative, organisational or promotional activities resulting in benefits to the community. The Clough Medal, from the Edinburgh Geological Society, has been awarded based on Bob’s research into structural geology, with particular emphasis on his contribution to work carried out in Scotland over three decades. The medals will be presented to Bob in February (Clough) and June (Coke).

(1 Feb 2018)


Durham Earth Sciences PhD Student wins international award

Chris Harbord, of the Rock Mechanics Laboratory, Durham University, was recently awarded the Ramsay Medal at the annual UK Tectonic Studies Group meeting in Plymouth in early January. The medal is awarded to the postgraduate or recent postgraduate who has been judged to have produced the best publication arising directly from a PhD project in the field of tectonics and structural geology during the previous year. The paper, published in the journal Geology with his supervisors as co-authors, summarises the results of a series of laboratory experiments investigating the effects of fault geometry on the nucleation of earthquakes. Significantly, the results of the paper challenge current models of earthquake initiation, highlighting that variations in the structural complexity of faults may be a key control on the timescales and location of earthquake nucleation processes.

Harbord, C.W.A., Nielsen, S.B., De Paola, N. & Holdsworth, R.E. 2017. Earthquake nucleation on rough faults. Geology, 45, doi:10.1130/G39181.1

(30 Jan 2018)


Did Life Originate on Layered Minerals?

One of the biggest unanswered questions in science is how life first originated. Prof Chris Greenwell, in collaboration with Dr Valentina Erastova and Dr Matteo Degiacomi from Durham’s Chemistry department, and Prof Don Fraser  from the University of Oxford, have just published an article in Nature Communications which sheds light on a potential mechanism leading to the spontaneous formation of proteins, one of life’s fundamental building blocks.

(18 Dec 2017) » Did Life Originate on Layered Minerals?


Dr Claire Horwell appointed President-elect of new AGU GeoHealth Section

Congratulations to Dr Claire Horwell who has been appointed President-elect of the GeoHealth Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). This is AGU’s first new Section in over fifteen years and Claire has been appointed to help launch GeoHealth as a major initiative within AGU’s remit.

GeoHealth is a rapidly-emerging transdisciplinary field that supports the intersection of Earth and environmental sciences with human, environmental and ecosystem health. Within her role, Claire will be responsible for attracting health-facing researchers, agencies and national/international associations to collaborate with AGU scientists, both within the AGU conferences and at a strategic level, to ensure that GeoHealth research impacts on policy and society.

(18 Dec 2017)


Researchers explore global ocean dead zones and hot greenhouse climate during the age of dinosaurs

An international team of scientists aboard research vessel JOIDES Resolution have just completed an eight-week voyage studying Australia’s climate and tectonics during the Cretaceous Period (the last age of the dinosaurs). 30 scientists from 15 countries, collected samples from deep beneath the ocean floor at five sites in water depths of 860-3850 metres mainlyin the Mentelle Basin off south-west Australia.

(29 Nov 2017) » Researchers explore global ocean dead zones and hot greenhouse climate during the age of dinosaurs


Yaoling Niu: UK's Most Highly Cited Geoscientist?

Yaoling has been honoured as a 2017 Highly Cited Researcher by the Web of Science (see: https://clarivate.com/hcr/2017-researchers-list/). He is one of just 141 geoscientists, including atmospheric scientists, worldwide, to achieve this award, of which 14 are UK-based. The other 13 work in the areas of climate and atmospheric science, so that we reckon that Yaoling is the most highly-cited geoscientist in the UK. Many congratulations Yaoling!

https://www.dur.ac.uk/earth.sciences/staff/academic/?id=2205

(28 Nov 2017)