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2020 Year of Life

Themed years are at the heart of the Society’s science strategy. Throughout 2020 the Society will explore the topic of life, in a geoscience context, through research conferences, lectures, our education programme and other activities.

Earth is, perhaps, unique in its capacity to host life. The origin of life is among the most fundamental of scientific questions and the source of endless fascination for the public and scientists alike. The evolution and diversity of life on our planet through geological time is inextricably linked with Earth processes such as climate, plate tectonics and the development of a habitable surface environment. Planetary catastrophes such as bolide impacts and flood basalts have caused mass extinctions several times in our geological past.

The linkages between the biosphere and geosphere, both through geological time and in the present day, are clear. Hydrogen produced by serpentinisation on the seafloor, for example, provides ‘fuel’ for bacteria, sustaining a vast and diverse ecosystem of microbial life. The temperature limits to such life, deep in the crust and in seafloor sediments, are only now beginning to be understood.

The Year of Life is an opportunity to showcase both academic and applied research focusing on palaeontology, geobiology, biogeochemical cycling and astrobiology, among others. Events throughout the year will involve academe, industry, economists and government bodies, as well as partner geoscience societies and organisations. We welcome proposals for meetings and events aimed at a range of audiences to explore the geoscience of life on Earth.

The evolution of life on Earth has been intrinsically linked to the planet’s climatic and biogeochemical state for several billion years. From microbes living deep in the crust to Himalayan tardigrades, and from the search for life’s origins to predicting the future climate, life has occupied, adapted to and shaped virtually every environment with impacts across the breadth of the geosciences.

The Year of Life Collection, part of the Society’s Year of Life 2020, aims to collate recent and seminal papers that cover the breadth of geoscience research into the impacts on, or the effects of, life on Earth and beyond. Reconstructing ecosystems from the Archaean to the Anthropocene, mass extinctions to the actions of microbes, and from deep sea vents to astrobiology.

In addition to this collection, The Lagerstätten Collection brings together reviews of exceptionally well-preserved fossil assemblages, Konservat-Lagerstätten, which provide unrivalled glimpses into ancient ecosystems and profoundly shape our understanding of life’s history.

Guest editors

  • Heda Agić, University of California Santa Barbara, United States of America
  • William Foster, University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Sophie Nixon, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Sean McMahon, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Duncan Murdock, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, United Kingdom

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