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Puzzle of Earth's Uninterrupted Habitability

11 November 2015
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Event type:
Conference, Lecture
Organised by:
Geological Society Events
Geological Society, Burlington House, London
Event status:

Environmental conditions at the Earth's surface have been continuously suitable for life for more than three billion years.  Temperatures, for example, have only varied by few tens of centigrade despite large changes in solar luminosity and atmospheric composition.  Since the Archean, the planet has not once been rendered sterile.  However, the reasons for this long-term life-friendliness remain contentious. 

How has Earth’s climate avoided the runaway warming shown on Venus or the runaway cooling of Mars?  Has Earth’s relative stability resulted from geochemical feedback (e.g. through silicate weathering), the stabilizing influence of a complex biosphere (i.e. the Gaia hypothesis), good luck (e.g. purely fortuitous cancellation of solar warming by decreased greenhouse gas concentrations) or is long-term life-friendliness simply the consequence of life’s extraordinary adaptability (allowing it to survive even Snowball Earth events)?  

This conference will bring together proponents of these various views in an attempt to forge a consensus on how to move the debate forward.  This debate will be informed by data relating to the latest understanding of silicate weathering, Neoproterozoic ice ages, and the environmental history of Earth.

This meeting would be suitable for anyone interested in the long-term habitability of the Earth, its long-term climate history, geo-biochemical cycles, the highly controversial Gaia hypothesis or the likelihood of habitable worlds beyond the solar system.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers   

  • Professor Tim Lenton (University of Exeter)
  • Professor Toby Tyrrell (University of Southampton)


Registration is now open, the rates for this conference are available on the right hand side of this page.

Please note:
  • If you are a member of one of these associated societies, please select 'other society' when registering using the online form. GSL Associated Societies include the following: AAPG, AIPG, GSA, NGWA and SEPM.
  • Employees GSL Corporate Affiliates can also register for this meeting.  Please check that your work is on the current affiliates list prior to booking.


A final programme is now available to download; please see 'Downloads' on the right


  • David Waltham, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Graham Shields, University College London

Registration rates

£ 70.00
£ 100.00
£ 70.00
£ 70.00
£ 45.00
£ 50.00

Geolsoc Contact

Conference Office

The Geological Society
Burlington House