Erin Scott, Durham University, AGU, New Orleans

Being awarded the TSG Early Career Researcher travel bursary allowed me to attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans, USA. It was a spectacular conference with many highly relevant sessions, inspiring keynote talks and as much live music as you could wish for!
On the Tuesday, I presented my poster entitled “Andean surface uplift constrained by radiogenic isotopes of arc lavas” (co-authored by Mark B. Allen, Colin G. Macpherson, Ken J.W. McCaffrey, Jon P. Davidson, Christopher Saville and Mihai N. Ducea). Early on in the presentation, I was delighted to be told that my first paper had just been accepted to be published in Nature Communications. As my presentation at AGU was based on the accepted manuscript, receiving this great news gave me an excellent opportunity to promote the paper to a large interdisciplinary audience. The poster received a lot of interest and I was kept in various discussions throughout the whole afternoon, which was highly encouraging and a big confidence boost. The ice-breaker reception at Mardi Gras World in the evening was also a fantastic place to celebrate!

In both the poster and manuscript we quantify regional Central Andean surface uplift using a newly observed calibration between the elevation of Quaternary Andean arc volcanoes and both 87Sr/86Sr and 143Nd/144Nd compositions of their arc lavas. We propose that the Western Cordillera of the Andean Plateau was close to modern elevations by 23 Ma. Quantifying surface uplift remains a contentious topic with major implications for both tectonic and climate studies. During my presentation and throughout the conference I relished in discussing these topics with many outstanding scientists in tectonics, geochemistry and geodynamics; their feedback on my work and ideas was invaluable and much appreciated. As I have now started my final year of PhD studies these discussions were also aptly timed, as I was able to meet both new and existing collaborators to discuss possible future project ideas.
Through the AGU student volunteer scheme, I was given the chance to go behind the scenes and work in the AGU Press Room for a day. This was great fun and fantastic to see the biggest Earth Science conference from another perspective. I met many different reporters, including the Editor of Eos Magazine, the Science Correspondents of BBC News and several freelance science journalists, all of whom were very happy to chat to me about their career paths and possible career options in science journalism.

As a final year PhD student with limited research funds TSG’s financial support was invaluable, as without it my attendance at AGU Fall Meeting would not have been possible. A million thanks to TSG!
For more photos and posts about AGU and New Orleans (amongst other things!), please check out my Twitter: @ErinScott_geo

Nevado Tres Cruces over Laguna Santa Rosa, during fieldwork in North Chile (March, 2017)
Nevado Tres Cruces over Laguna Santa Rosa, during fieldwork in North Chile (March, 2017)

Thomas Phillips, Imperial College London, IMAG(in)ING Rifting Workshop, Switzerland

I was awarded a TSG conference bursary to support my attendance of the IMAG(in)ING RIFTING workshop in September 2017. Coming towards the end of my PhD, the TSG bursary proved a great help in allowing me to attend this workshop.

Organised by Professor Gianreto Mantaschal (Université de Strasbourg) and Dr Gwenn Peron-Pinvidic (Geological Survey of Norway (NGU)), and held in the picturesque town of Pontresina, high in the Swiss Alps, this week long workshop combined in-depth discussions regarding continental rifting and break-up, with fieldtrips and excursions. This workshop consisted of a number of invited presentations that examined the current state of knowledge in various aspects relating to continental rifting, in-depth discussion sessions and excursions to examine spectacular exposures of proximal to distal rifted margin rocks in the area.

During the workshop I gave an invited presentation on my PhD research, entitled: “The role of pre-existing structural heterogeneities in controlling rift evolution: the North Sea Case example,” which was co-authored by Professor Christopher Jackson (Imperial College London), Dr Rebecca Bell (Imperial College London), Dr Oliver Duffy (AGL, University of Texas at Austin) and Professor Haakon Fossen (University of Bergen). This presentation drew upon my recent work, published in the Journal of Structural Geology (Phillips et al., 2016), using seismic reflection data to constrain the geometry of Devonian Shear Zones offshore southern Norway and examining their influence on rift geometry and evolution within the North Sea. The workshop also gave me the opportunity to propose and gain feedback on some new ideas relating to the wider topic of structural inheritance, as well as numerous fruitful discussion on a wide range of rifting-related topics with members of the community.

One of the highlights of the workshop was to get stuck in to some Alpine geology. A series of excursions took us on a tour through a passive margin from the proximal to the distal domain, all exposed in a relatively small area of the Alps. During these excursions we had the opportunity to visit exhumed mantle overlain by basalt and sandstone (and to touch the Moho!). We also visited exposures of hyperextended crust and detachment fault systems, including the Err detachment. On the final day, we were able to examine local-scale turbidites and breccias associated with hyperextended crust, as well as examine the regional structure of the area through large-scale panoramas atop of the 3000m mountain, Piz Nair.

This conference proved a great experience and was hugely geologically rewarding. The opportunity to speak and discuss ideas with various people at the forefront of the rifted margin community was incredibly useful for my PhD studies and gave me a number of ideas and potential avenues to explore in my future geological career. The excursions offered a new perspective on my research, allowing me to directly examine and compare the structures that I see on seismic reflection data to both small- and large-scale passive margin structures exposed in the Alps.

Penelope Wilson, Kingston University London, AAPG Technology Workshop, New Zealand

I was awarded the TSG Early Career Researcher travel bursary to support my attendance at the AAPG Geosciences Technology Workshop (GTW) on the “Influence of Volcanism and Associated Magmatic Processes on Petroleum Systems”. The two day conference and workshop was held in Oamaru, the largest town in northern Otago on the South Island, New Zealand. I gave an oral presentation on some of the research that I started late in my PhD and am continuing now as an Early Career Scientist. My talk was entitled “Fracture analysis of deformation structures associated with the Trachyte Mesa intrusion, Henry Mountains, Utah: implications for reservoir connectivity and fluid flow around sill intrusions” and was co-authored with Prof Ken McCaffrey (Durham University), Prof Dave Sanderson (University of Southampton), Dr Woody Wilson (BP Exploration UK) and Prof Ian Jarvis (Kingston University London).

The workshop provided an excellent platform for both academics and exploration geologists in the hydrocarbon industry to get together to share research and ideas on the impact of magmatic intrusions and volcanism on petroleum systems. Basins with significant magmatic intrusions and extrusive deposits have often been considered less attractive to exploration geologists due to the complex nature of how these may impact, both positively and negatively, on the hydrocarbon potential. It was interesting to see the different approaches to tackling the subject area, especially the different attitudes from region to region. Discussions were very lively and exchanges fruitful, and I believe most left the conference more hopeful that these plays are potentially more viable and worth exploring.

I also attended a one day fieldtrip to visit and discuss local outcrops of interest including: the Tokarahi sill; tuffs with surge deposits, pillow basalts, and carbonate sediments with local diagenetic alteration located along the shoreline to the south of Oamaru; and highly porous bryozoan shoal deposits (volcanic platform setting) full of deformation bands. The field trip was an excellent addition, allowing us all to discuss topics raised over the two day workshop in the context of a natural setting.

Alodie Bubeck, University of Leicester, DRT Conference, Scotland

As an early career researcher, with limited financial support, the conference bursary from TSG allowed me to attend my first DRT conference in Inverness. I took two separate pieces of work with me, which gave me the unique opportunity to discuss prominent findings from the full scale of my recently completed PhD: pore- to continental margin-scale deformation.

My first presentation, a poster titled “Pore geometry as a control on rock strength”, was on display for the first two days of the conference during which time I enjoyed lively discussions with researchers with a broad range of backgrounds. Although I have presented a version of this work at previous meetings, the work has progressed considerably in the last year with the addition of new datasets, which are now published in EPSL (Bubeck et al., 2017: the paper for which I was runner-up for the 2017 Ramsay Medal). In addition, my poster included new 2D and 3D numerical models for the distribution of stress surrounding spherical and non-spherical pores, which have been developed by MSc student Tim Davis at the University of Aberdeen. DRT was an excellent opportunity to showcase these new models and promote my own paper (Bubeck et al., 2017), as well as Tim’s recently submitted JSG paper based on his numerical results. Through discussions of my work I found myself in an exciting position where I could provide advice to others regarding volume imaging techniques and discuss the importance of detailed volume analyses in rock deformation studies. Furthermore, this poster presentation contained rock mechanics work that underpins a grant application being prepared – for which I am contributing as the Researcher Co-investigator. Attending DRT gave me an invaluable, and crucially timed opportunity to discuss the scope and science of the application prior to the deadline this summer.

My second presentation was a talk titled “Vertical axis rotations during normal fault propagation and linkage: application to the evolution of the NE Atlantic”. This work involved a comparative analysis of fault, fracture, and intrusion kinematics and geometry from study sites in Hawaii and Iceland with larger-scale published, and new data for the segmented rift system in the proto-NE Atlantic. Based on the results of this comparison I presented a model of rift segment interaction, which predicts the formation of second-order structures at a range of geometries relative to the rift system. This work has not been widely presented previously and the feedback I received after my talk was extremely helpful and encouraging. The manuscript is now in review, so fingers crossed!

In addition to my two PhD-related presentations, attending DRT gave me an opportunity to enjoy valuable discussions of a broad range of study areas that I am involved in. These included: transform fault development, sill emplacement mechanisms, controls on the propagation of basalt-hosted faults, and fluid-rock interactions and transient permeability in basaltic sequences. Attending DRT gave me a great deal of confidence discussing multi-scale, wide ranging results with researchers with a variety of specialities.

Without this bursary I could not have attended the conference and I would encourage anyone, especially financially strapped ECRs, to put an application in! Thank you TSG!


Stephan Gehne, University of Plymouth, EGU, Austria

EGU is one of the major conferences for geoscience and geophysics and the TSG travel bursary gave me the excellent opportunity to present my research to experts from many different fields and backgrounds. I am in the third year of my doctoral study, investigating the fracture mechanics of hydraulic fracturing and my abstract was accepted for an oral presentation in the session “Fracture, mechanics and flow in tight reservoirs”.

In my presentation with the title “Fluid driven fracture mechanics in highly anisotropic shale: a laboratory study with application to hydraulic fracturing”, I presented our results from hydraulic fracturing experiments in a controlled laboratory environment. With these experiments we want to assess how environmental factors and rock properties influence the fracture process and the developing fracture network.

After the presentation, I could discuss my results with many other researchers, who are working with similar materials and methods and received valuable feedback and many guiding comments. Furthermore, exchanging and discussing experimental experiences and challenges helped me to find potential solutions to experimental issues we encountered during our experiments, which will save myself a lot of time and resources in the future.

During these discussions with other researchers from my but also other fields and the attendance of many relevant presentations (oral and posters) I learned a lot about hydraulic fracturing, shale behaviour, low permeability rock types and inherent anisotropy in rocks and developed many new ideas to further advance my research. Furthermore, I was able to discuss potential collaboration ideas, which I think will rise my project to a higher standard.

Due to the extent of the conference, it was also great for building new relationships and strengthen existing ones.

To attend EGU 2017 was a great experience, it provided an invaluable guidance for my research and it was a large source for new ideas and solutions. I want to Thank TSG greatly to give me the opportunity to attend EGU 2017. Thank you very much!

Jordan Phethean, Durham University, EGU, Austria

As a final year PhD student the TSG student travel bursary allowed me the chance to present the concluding results of my research to an international audience at the EGU General Assembly 2017 in Vienna. Not only was I able to convey my new and exciting findings to experts in my field, but I also got ample feedback on my work – which is particularly helpful at this stage as I am preparing to publish it. On top of that I also learnt more than I could have imagined during the oral and poster sessions, and discovered many new workers active in my field with whom I hope to collaborate in the future!

My poster ‘The Rovuma Transform Margin: the enigmatic continent-ocean boundary of East Africa’ presented work which has aimed to resolving the uncertainty in the location of the East African transform margin. Until now, the margin had been thought to be situated several hundred km farther east of where we propose. This has significant implications for plate tectonic reconstructions of the Gondwana supercontinent with impacts for both academia and industry.

We presented the poster on the Wednesday right in the middle of the conference when vast amounts of people were in attendance. This gave my work lots of exposure! After several hours of intense discussion with eminent researchers from IFREMER, BGR, and MAGRiT (just to name a few) I found myself feeling confident about how I would like my current research to proceed, and also more confidence about my future academic career path, too!

In short, this was an invaluable and guiding experience for me that would not have been possible without this amazing bursary from the TSG. Thank you so much!