Jan Zalasiewicz

  • Tuesday 6 June 2017
  • 6.00pm-7.00pm
  • Centre for Medicine, Lecture Theatre 1

An Anthropocene pebble: time-capsule for the far future

The extraordinary capability of rock to preserve detailed narratives of planetary process might be exemplified by a single ordinary pebble of, say, Welsh slate. Interrogated by the means of modern geology, this can yield evidence spanning many hundreds of millions of years, including extraction of crustal material from the mantle, the erosion of ancient crust, the changing chemistry and biology of a long-vanished sea floor, and evolving conditions underground as mountains are built and destroyed.

Now that humans are the latest force changing the geology of Earth, how might a single pebble from the present smuggle an archive of current events into the far future? In this talk, the nature of such a time capsule – forming now, somewhere in the world – will be explored.

Jan Zalasiewicz, Professor of Palaeobiology

Jan Z 200x266.jpgAfter an undergraduate degree at Sheffield and a PhD at Cambridge, Jan Zalasiewicz started his career as field geologist and biostratigrapher at the British Geological Survey, before joining the Department of Geology at Leicester as a Lecturer in Sedimentology, though in practice lecturing on a wide variety of topics. He has now evolved to be a Professor of Palaeobiology. 

He has worked mostly on geologically recent Quaternary (‘Ice Age’) terrains and on rocks of the Ordovician and Silurian periods, ~480-400 million years old, and the fossil plankton (graptolites) that they contain. In recent years he has increasingly worked on the Anthropocene concept, and currently chairs the Anthropocene Working Group. He also writes popular science articles and books.

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