Planetary health and geology: how do rocks and people connect?

Publication date:
1 May 2018, 4:30pm - 1 May 2018, 5:30pm
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AUT. WA Conference Centre, level 2, WA Building 55 Wellesley Street East, Auckland
Professor Michael Petterson

We have one earth, aged 4.5 billion years. Geology illuminates space-time processes, explaining Earth-evolution. ‘Reading rocks’ requires the acquisition of many skills and ‘languages’. For most ‘earthlings’ this activity appears eccentric and remote. And yet, a deep understanding of earth processes is critical to planetary health, life-quality, & development. Humans are so numerous and consuming that a new Geological Epoch has been proposed: ‘The Anthropocene’. The application of geoscience to real-world human challenges (e.g. resources, pollution, living space, disasters) requires innovative thinking. Professor Petterson presents ‘experiments’ in diverse places such as Afghanistan, the Himalayas, & the Pacific Islands, linking rocks and people in intriguingly unexpected ways. How can volcanic rocks assist with nuclear waste storage and community attitudes? How can rocks bring peace to Afghanistan? How does sand inform the survival of low lying atoll islands? If rich, well regulated countries, say ‘no’ what is the wider impact for the poorer world? This lecture explores how under-valued multidisciplinary research that combines science and social science is fundamental to the future health of earth, it’s people and wildlife and it’s existence as we know it.

Professor Michael Petterson became AUT’s first Professor of Geology, joining the School of Science in April 2017.

Last updated: 2018-04-11