Welcome to Earth Sciences at Western

Earth Sciences is the science of the planet Earth. We seek to understand the Earth's internal structure and composition; its dynamic character (earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics); the processes that occur within it; the processes that shape its surface and the materials that constitute its surface layers; the connections between Earth’s surface processes, climate and our environmental sustainability; the origin, occurrence, extraction and conservation of the Earth's natural resources (minerals, fossil fuels, soils, and water); the place of the Earth within the Solar System, and the history of life on Earth.

Western's Department of Earth Sciences is a close-knit and dynamic department combining cutting edge academic and applied research with strong mentorship and teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Our graduates can be found in industry, academia and government across Canada and around the world. Come see us in the Biological and Geological Sciences Building to see what Earth Sciences has to offer.

Colloquium Series Speakers

Please join us for Earth Sciences' first colloquium event. 

Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Time: 1:30 PM
Location: BGSB 1053

Dr. Yongsong Huang (Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, Brown University) New quantitative paleo-proxies for temperature, sea ice and salinity based on alkenones produced by phylogenetically distinct Isochrysidales species


Abstract
Long chain alkenones are arguably the most accurate paleotemperature thermometers ever developed. In contrast to isoprenoidal and branched GDGTs, alkenones have much better defined producing organisms (order Isochrysidales of Haptophye algae) and well demonstrated linear temperature correlations based on laboratory growth and global ocean coretop sediment transects. Alkenones are diagenetically highly stable biomarkers hence well suited for paleo-reconstructions. Unsaturation indices of alkenones have been widely and successfully applied for paleotemperature reconstructions for ~ 40 years. Recent studies, however, demonstrate that Isochrysidales are also well adapted to grow in different salinity, stretching all the way from freshwater to hypersaline waters. Salinity (as well as dynamics of salinity during the growth season) is the predominant control on the Isochrysidales speciation. Genomic analyses on seasonal water and sediment samples reveal well defined salinity niches when specific Isochrysidales species flourish. While Isochrysidales respond to temperature changes primarily by adjusting the number of double bonds in alkenones, salinity induced changes in alkenones (and alkenoates) are also reflected by systematic changes in double bond positions, chain length characteristics, resulting from transitions among different Isochrysidales species. Such salinity-induced response is markedly different from the physiological response of alkenone unsaturation ratios of individual Isochrysidales species to temperature. In this presentation, I will review our discovery of freshwater Isochrysidales and associated alkenones, phylogenetic classifications of different groups and sub-groups of Isochrysidales, improvement of alkenone analytical methods and efforts to calibrate alkenone and alkenoate chemotaxonomical changes to salinity, temperature changes. The refined chemotaxonomy has been carried out using laboratory culture experiments, natural surface sediment transects, and estuaries and lakes of wide range of salinity from fresh to hypersaline. I will also discuss a series of paleosalinity and paleohydrological reconstructions from lacustrine and ocean environments, including the Balck Sea salinity reconstruction during deglacial and sea ice reconstruction from LGM to present in Nordic Seas. 

 

Dean's Statement on Anti-Racism

Racism has no place in the University or London community. Everyone in Western Science is appalled by news of violence directed against Black and Indigenous people, particularly in Canada. This intensifies our resolve to remove obstacles and systemic barriers to creating a community in our Faculty of Science in which we can all study Science in an atmosphere of mutual respect. As a Faculty of Science and as members of the London community, we condemn all racist acts, whether intended or arising from ignorance, and the power imbalances they reflect and perpetuate. Power imbalances and racial biases also exist in our own Faculty community.

Our resolve to improve must be matched with thoughtful action. I affirm Western Science's active role and support in Western's response to the Anti-Racism Working Group Report. Over the coming weeks, I commit to working within and outside our Faculty to identify issues from staff, faculty, and students. This process will be followed by planning and action within our Faculty of Science, informed and led by our community. We will, together, speak up and stand up for the changes needed.

Matt Davison, Faculty of Science Dean