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Public Lecture: Carbon's fundamental role on Earth

04 December 2019
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Geological Society Events, 2019 Year of Carbon
The Geological Society, Burlington House
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Carbon plays a fundamental role on Earth. It forms the chemical backbone for all essential organic molecules produced by living organisms.

Carbon-based fuels supply most of society’s energy. Atmospheric carbon dioxide affects Earth's climate.

Although we have a great deal data on carbon near the surface, relatively little is known about carbon deep in Earth. Since 2009 the Deep Carbon Observatory has been addressing major questions about deep carbon.

  • How is it exchanged between the interior and the surface? 
  • Where are the reservoirs of deep carbon?
  • Did deep organic chemistry have a role in the origin of life on Earth? 

The theme of this history of science lecture is the fascinating story of how we discovered the dynamic interior of Earth, and the role that carbon plays. We trace across four centuries the evolution of thinking that led to the establishment of the interdisciplinary field of Earth system science. 

The key discoveries of deep carbon science are introduced in the historical context of the pioneer researchers, how they formulated their research agendas, and their impact  on the geodynamics, geochemistry, and geobiology of deep carbon.


Simon Mitton, University of Cambridge

Videos of past lectures can be viewed in our Past Meeting Resources.

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