Silent witnesses

How geochemistry tells about climate and environments


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The Lava Robin

The Goldschmidt conference is the biggest meeting of geochemists anywhere (and if there isn’t a collective noun, there should be). This year, me and more than 4000 other [collective noun]s gathered in the renaissance capital of Florence. To see even a fraction of what was on offer would have required a lot of running, and probably a telescope: 22 sessions, some with 10 or more sub-sessions, and each of them with oral and poster presentations. I felt like I spent most of the week next door to myself.


The opening day set the bar somewhere in the stratosphere, with a first hand view of the birth of the solar system. In an overflowing Palazzo di Congressi, Rick Carlson, of Washington’s Carnegie Institute, gave a plenary address worthy of the location: He took isotopes and made them Galilean. Nanograins of spinel teased out of meteorites, he suggested, could be the…

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