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Guest Speaker - Prof Peter Ward

The Environment Institute presented Professor Peter Ward, Paleontologist and Professor in the Departments of Geology and Biology at the University of Washington, Seattle, on Wednesday 21 August 2013.

'A taxonomy of mass extinctions based on new geobiological research in the Gondwana Continents'

Presentation Materials
Date Seminar Topic Downloads
21 August
A taxonomy of mass extinctions based on new geobiological research in the Gondwana Continents

Podcast
(m4a, 44MB)

About the Speaker

Peter D. Ward, Ph.D., is a paleontologist and professor in the Departments of Geology and Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an adjunct professor of zoology and astronomy. His research specialties include the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event and mass extinctions generally. His books include the best-selling “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe” (co-author Donald Brownlee, 2000), “Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future” (2007), and “The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?” (2009).

Abstract

A taxonomy of mass extinctions based on new geobiological research in the Gondwana Continents

Mass extinctions have been the subject of intense curiosity and study from the dawn of the discipline of Geology as a modern science.  The topic has informed (or clashed) with fundamental principles of Geology through its history, including Catastrophism, Uniformitarianism, and most recently a nascent “Neocatastrophism”. In this talk Professor Peter Ward will communicate new information from geobiological research by his group that pertains to this debate.

Specific new data coming from research into the K/Pg mass extinction at field sites in Antarctica, the late Devonian mass extinction based on work just finished in the Canning Basin of Australia, and the Permian mass extinction from new work in both South Africa and Western Canada.  The talk will conclude with a rough attempt at proposing a “taxonomy” of mass extinction causes.

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