Science and Engineering a university for the real world

IFE Professorial Lecture: A geochemical perspective on the past and future habitability of the Earth

6:00pm - 8:00pm 12th September 2019
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The Owen J Wordsworth Room, Level 12, S Block
QUT Gardens Point

Join us as Professor Balz Kamber from QUT delivers an intriguing lecture suited to a general audience about the past, present, and future habitability of Earth from the research findings and understanding of earth scientists.


A geochemical perspective on the past and future habitability of the Earth

Life has thrived on Earth for more than 3.5 billion years. Most of the evidence for life’s past existence and evolution is of chemical nature, stored as elemental or isotopic signatures in sedimentary rocks. Discovering and reading this record is the job of geochemists and petrologists. For life to be sustained at the Earth’s distance from the Sun, our planet requires an atmospheric greenhouse and a surface thermostat.

Volcanic CO2 and the chemical breakdown of rock have kept the Earth’s surface temperature in the habitable window for nearly 4 billion years. However, the current giant fossil fuel combustion ‘experiment’ by human society is taking us into uncertain territory and there is an urgent need for geochemists and petrologists to better research the natural mechanisms by which the Earth has protected itself from climatic extremes. Once better understood, the thermostat may inspire nature-based solutions to the atmospheric CO2 crisis.

In this lecture, Professor Balz Kamber will explain examples of the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere for a general audience to illustrate why earth scientists think the past is the key to the future. 



Professor Balz Kamber
Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology

Balz Kamber joined the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences at QUT as Professor of Petrology. Having previously worked in Switzerland, the UK, Australia, Canada and Ireland, he specialises in researching elemental cycles that connect the various spheres of the Earth: the solid interior, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere and the critical zone in which they all meet. He uses patterns in chemical element concentrations and isotope compositions to decipher the way the spheres interact. He has published 175 peer-reviewed scientific papers, is a Chief Editor of the leading journal Chemical Geology and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

QUT Institute for Future Environments

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