Thursday and Friday at AGU

A post by Chris RowanChris: So, we both managed to survive another AGU. Is your brain full now?


A post by Anne JeffersonAnne: Yes, it hurts.


Chris: But you seem to have had a pretty good week. Two well-received invited talks, and every time I saw you, you seemed to be talking science with other water-folk.

Anne: Your week ended on a high note, too. I saw you give an invited talk on New Zealand tectonics in a session on remagnetisation of sediments.

Chris: It was actually my first ever talk at AGU, and was a slightly more intimidating experience than a poster session. I think it went fine, although 5pm on the last day of the conference didn’t leave much time for feedback. At least I was better off than the person speaking just after me, who was not only giving one of the last talks at the conference, but had given one of the first at 8am on Monday.

What other interesting things did you see in the last couple of days?

Anne: On Thursday, I quite enjoyed the session I was in on post-eruptive processes on volcanic landscapes. I thought that the session conveners did a brilliant job of arranging the talks in a logical sequence, from explosive to effusive eruptions. They also did the smartest thing that I have ever seen during a time slot where a talk had been withdrawn: they used the time to allow people with posters in the session to give pop-ups advertising their poster.

Chris: That was a good idea. The poster hall is so massive that it’s quite easy to miss good stuff without some prompting. And I should know, I spent quite a lot of time in there the past couple of days. I saw a cool study on sedimentation in lakes close to the Alpine Fault in New Zealand – apparently fully 40% of the total sediment deposited is material mobilised during and just after earthquakes. And this morning I had a fascinating chat with Vincent Cortillot about using paleomagnetism to constrain the eruptive history of flood basalts – it seems that you can show that most of the material is erupted in short 100 to 1000 year pulses, and that how closely spaced in time these pulses are may explain whilst some large igneous provinces caused large mass extinction events whereas others did not. And amongst all the computer models of continental deformation, it was nice to see people still gaining useful new insights from physical models, with plasticine plates being pushed around on top of a gelatin mantle (or close rheological equivalents).

After five days, my brain is definitely full. But I’m also really motivated to head back home, get what I presented this year written up and published, and get to work on new science to present next year. Lets hope my good intentions survive Christmas!

Anne: While the focus of AGU is surely the talks and posters, the biggest value is really the conversations that happen here. Whether they are in front of a poster, after a talk, over lunch or in the hallway, when you put more than 20,000 enthusiastic geoscientists together, lots of great ideas are sparked.

Chris: That’s a great summary, and a good place for Highly Allochthonous to bid adeiu to AGU 2011. We hope that our posts this week have given our readers some sense of why we came to San Francisco, and why we’ll probably keep coming back. It’s goodnight from her..

Anne:…and it’s goodnight from him.

Chris and Anne: Goodbye!

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