Professor Dan Parsons presents his lecture entitled 'How sticky is Earth – and does it matter?'

About the lecture

Our coasts, estuaries and river environments are among the systems most sensitive to sea-level rise and environmental change. To manage them, we need to be able to predict how they will change under various scenarios.

However, our models are not yet robust enough to predict too far into the future. In addition, we need to improve how we use our understanding of modern environments to reconstruct paleo-environments – significant assumptions have been made in the way in which we interpret ancient rocks and the conditions on Earth when they were deposited.

One reason our models and interpretations are lacking is that they assume that these riverine, estuarine and coastal systems are composed of non-cohesive sands – that nothing sticky exists. However, sticky mud is the most common sediment on Earth and many of these systems are dominated by biologically active muds and complex sediment mixtures that are inherently sticky.

Professor Parson’s lecture will illustrate just how important such abiotic-biotic interactions are, and present a concept of “peak stickiness” – before exploring what happens during biodiversity crises and mass extinction events in earth's geological history.

About the lecturer

Professor Dan Parsons joined Loughborough in 2022 as PVC Research and Innovation. He studied at the University of Sheffield, completing his PhD in 2004, before moving to the University of Leeds as a Postdoctoral Research Associate.

He secured a prestigious UKRI-NERC Fellowship in 2005, and worked as a Lecturer at the University until 2011 – while holding a two-year Research Fellowship at the University of Illinois. He then moved to the University of Hull to take up the role of Professor of Process Sedimentology, serving as Associate Dean for Research and Enterprise in Science and Engineering for three years.

He was the Founding Director of Hull’s Energy and Environment Institute which grew under his leadership – bringing together a multidisciplinary team of more than 180 researchers to conduct impactful research on the global challenges presented by environmental change.

Dan has been a member of UKRI-NERC’s Science Committee since 2020, and was Division President at the European Geosciences Union, 2018-22.

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