Oxford Research at AGU hitting the headlines

The past week has seen a number of Oxford research collaborations in the news, thanks at least in part to the recent conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). We present a brief round-up below:

World’s oldest water now even older  

Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar of the University of Toronto, who hit headlines a few years ago with her discovery of the world’s oldest water, preserved deep underground in Canadian mine shafts, has found water from even deeper in the mine. Former Oxford Postdoc Oliver Warr, now at Toronto, has dated the water to be at least two billion years old.

Professor Chris Ballentine, Oxford Co-PI, commented: ‘We are just at the beginning of understanding how much of the continental crust contains these truly ancient waters; but it is clear they play a fundamental role in controlling the chemistry and life both at depth and possibly also the planet’s surface’

Sentinels map Earth’s slow surface warping 

Exeter College alumnus Dr Richard Walters (BA 2004, DPhil 2009) presented work by the COMET group, who have developed high-resolution maps showing ground movement, generated daily by the EU’s Sentinel-1 satellite constellation.

These maps are now free to download thanks to a new service developed by COMET, the Looking inside the Continents from Space (LiCS) and Earthquakes without Frontiers projects: the COMET-LiCS Sentinel-1 InSAR portal.

Founded in Oxford, and now headquartered in Leeds, many of the COMET group are Oxford alumni, including its Director Tim Wright (DPhil Wolfson 1997). Professors Richard Walker and Tamsin Mather serve as Deputy Directors, and Barry Parsons and Philip England remain active within the group from Oxford.

Olivine anisotropy suggests Gutenberg discontinuity is not the base of the lithosphere

Widely reported with mention of colleague Jessica Warren at the University of Delaware, University College’s Sollas Fellow Lars Hansen is first author on this paper, which provides a new dataset for understanding plate tectonics at depth.

In addition, the AGU 2016 Conference saw a good number of student and postdoc talks and poster sessions. Many of these were reported in micro-format via Twitter.