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Year of Carbon Logo

2019 at the Geological Society was the themed Year of Carbon!

Following on from our 2018 themed Year of Resources, in 2019 we looked at carbon, one of the most important elements on our planet.

Carbon is of critical importance in:

  • The oceans and atmosphere where it has important consequences for the global climate system.
  • Complex organic molecules that led to life on Earth.
  • Carbon-based energy resources which remain of critical importance as both a source of energy but also in planning for a future carbon-neutral society.
  • Understanding the carbon budget of our planet over long timescales, which requires quantification of the cycling of carbon between surface reservoirs and Earth’s deep interior.

Carbon is also at the heart of a number of important societal challenges. The rapid increase in atmospheric CO2, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time, and will occupy generations to come. Carbon-based fuels, however, remain essential for our economy, transport, communications and everyday life and petroleum geoscience develops innovation in exploration, in extraction and in mitigating emissions.

In the future, however, a move to carbon-neutral fuels and energy sources is unavoidable, and is the focus of much research, including studies in the field of carbon sequestration.

Throughout 2019 the Society explored the geoscience of carbon through research conferences, lectures, our education programme and other activities.

Library Events and Resources

Carbon on Carbon

Carbon drawing class at Geological Society Library

In spring 2019 we were delighted to hold two fossil drawing classes, led by artist and geologist Emma Jude. Participants were invited to travel back in time to the Carboniferous Period and learn about life on Earth over 300 million years ago, before drawing carboniferous fossils using charcoal. 

See pictures from the event

Carbon Reading List

We've created a reading list from the library catalogue:

Access the reading list 

GSL Publications

2019 Year of Carbon 

View peer-reviewed carbon related content in the Lyell Collection.


We welcome suggestions for events and activities.

To find out more please email:

[email protected]

Related Links

Outreach & Education

Click on the links below to explore our outreach and education materials relating to the Year of Carbon.

poster on carbon reservoirs

poster on hydrocarbon formation

A series of posters and infographics about carbon and the geosciences.

Take a look at our Year of Carbon rock set. One rock set is on display at Burlington House year round, and there is another available for loan. Contact Amy Ball to find out more. 

Energy factsheets

Download our factsheets about renewable and non-renewable energy resources.