Thursday, 15 January 2015

Talking Isotopes, state side... by Ginnie Panizzo

Ginnie and Patrick Frings (Lund University) talking
Si cycling in coastal environments with Claudia Ehlert
at the “Biogeochemical Cycling of Silicon and
Isotopes in Biogenic Silica” poster session.
Every year, for a whole week in December, 20000 geoscientists descend on San Francisco for one of the biggest Geoscience conferences in the world: the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. Can you imagine what its like?! Certainly there are fleece wearing, poster-tube-wielding geologists everywhere. Last month the number of delegates reached an all time high at 24,000 people, there were 3,000 talks and posters presented each day, here's Ginnie Panizzo and Sarah Roberts to tell us about their American adventure...

AGU is one of the main outlets for palaeoclimatology (the study of past climate) and therefore a great opportunity to present scientific findings in this field of research. As such some of the BGS honorary staff hosted a session on isotopes and environmental change. The session led by our Honorary Research Associates (Dr George Swann and Prof Anson Mackay) was entitled: “Biogeochemical Cycling of Silicon and Isotopes in Biogenic Silica”.

This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the silicon stable isotope work they have been pioneering in continental Siberia with staff from the Centre of Environmental Geochemistry at the BGS. Although scheduled on the afternoon of the last day (so called grave yard slot), the session still drew a crowd with a vast array of interesting talks on fractionation effects of carnivorous sea sponges, agricultural impacts upon soil biogeochemical cycling and a novel interpretation of the diatom bound 13C technique.  There was also a poster session which also brought a large amount of foot fall, with some very interesting discussions about field and laboratory methodologies covering a vast array of stable isotope methods (including 30Si and 18O). 
AGU logo source: Wikipedia

All in all, I had a great week at AGU, which needless to say, asides from the pioneering science, is a great chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues from around the world, as well as a great opportunity to forge new research collaborations. Bring on the next research year.

Written by Ginnie Panizzo and Sarah Roberts

Ginnie is a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham and a Visiting Researcher Associate at the BGS, she will soon be starting an Anne McLaren Fellowship at the University and will be working within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry at the BGS.

Sarah is doing her PhD research at the University of Nottingham in the School of Geography.

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