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Regional Public Lecture: Quicquid sub terra est – Whatever is under the Earth

07 October 2019
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Event type:
Lecture, Evening meeting
Organised by:
2019 Year of Carbon, Geological Society Events
Aston Webb Building, University of Birmingham
Event status:

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A regional lecture in the Public Lecture series, this lecture was first delivered in January at Burlington House.


The depths of the Earth have long been terra incognita and the realm of imagination, a place of mystery and the source of unmentionable terrors. Over the past 300 years our scientific knowledge of the Earth’s interior has developed from medieval visions of hell into a detailed understanding of its physical structure, its chemical composition, and how it communicates with the surface - and indeed vice versa.

In this talk, Nick Rogers will explore how ideas of the Earth’s interior have evolved, how geophysics is giving us ever more complex images of the Earth’s structure today, and how geochemistry defines the processes that have produced that structure and, significantly, the timing of major events in planetary evolution. The modern view of the mantle is of a dynamic system in which material moves in response to secular cooling of both the mantle and core.

The surface effects are plate tectonics and volcanism, the latter providing geochemical windows into the deeper parts of the mantle from which evidence exists for materials that were once at the surface of the Earth, and even relics from the solar nebula. The challenge now is to reconcile the increasingly detailed history of the mantle revealed by geochemistry with the complexities of the current geophysical snapshot of mantle structure into a coherent geodynamic model.


Nick Rogers, President of the Geological Society

A Geochemist’s view of the deep Earth

Nick Rogers is Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences at the Open University. He spent almost all his career at the OU, running the trace element analytical laboratory and indulging in research into the origins of alkaline rocks, the evolution of the African Rift valley, the composition and evolution of the mantle and latterly mantle plumes. He was also for a time the Science Programme Director, overseeing the whole of the OU's science curriculum.

He has been involved with the Geological Society for many years, having previously served as Chief Editor of the Journal of the Geological Society, Chair of the Education Committee and Publications Secretary. He currently has the enjoyable privilege of being the Society’s President.


WG5, Aston Webb Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


The lecture will begin at 5.00pm.

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The Geological Society
Burlington House