Justin Payne – Senior Lecturer from School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia

Title: Treasure trove or Pandora’s box? Can we determine the growth of the continents from “a grain of sand”?
The continental crust is one of the multiple characteristics that makes the Earth unique within our solar system and has presumably led to the evolution of complex life. The evolution of the atmosphere, biosphere and geosphere are thought to be intimately linked throughout Earth history, but in many cases the driving mechanisms and exact timing of changes to the Earth System are unclear. In this talk, we’ll investigate why and how geoscientists are using grains of sand in the form of the mineral zircon (and zircon from other sources) to investigate how the continents have grown over time and what time periods represent dramatic changes in their evolution. Contrasting with the story interpreted from zircon, it seems that much of the material added to the continental crust throughout Earth history may be done in a manner that is invisible to the isotopic record and identifying the true growth of the continental crust is likely to remain a challenge until this can be resolved.

Where: RUCH 103
When: Monday, September 16th
Time: 3:00pm
Directions: Map