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Sustaining Geology in a Complex Earth System

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Presentation on theme: "Sustaining Geology in a Complex Earth System"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sustaining Geology in a Complex Earth System

2 Resources Plenary lectures at IMA 2002 NSERC reallocation report
Breaking New Ground MMC Dynamics of Complex Systems

3 Terms and Concepts Geology: Study of the Earth, processes, history, materials, life. Complexity: quantitative term, amount of information needed to describe a system, measured in the level of detail needed to describe the system Emergence: parts interact in the context of the whole; system properties cannot be studied by physically taking components apart.

4 Earth Lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere,
Different length and time scales. Feedback between component parts as energy and mass are exchanged, transferred and redistributed Geological context the feedback might occur on a global scale: sedimentation in basins affects ocean chemistry. On a smaller scale we see micron-scale zones in minerals record changes in lake chemistry.

5 Geological context includes time
Time, minutes Time, thousands of years…… Time, years

6 Humans

7 Human Perspective I Population 1999: six billion
The last billion took 12 years Rate of growth declining 2.2% in 1963 to ~1% today 9 billion by 2050 1.1billion entering the age range of reproduction

8 Human Perspective II Fire on demand 1.5 m to 500,000 years
Mineral striker 40-50,000 years Au and Cu use 15,000 years Cu + Sn to make bronze By the 16th century Agricola: “when ores are washed, the water which has been used poison’s the brooks and streams and either destroys the fish or drives them away”

9 Humans Humans have become a major force in the Earth system: intervention in many of the exchanges. Global warming Another measure ~ 42.5 G tonnes of material moved by humans, ~ 42.5 G tonnes of material moved by streams, rivers mass wasting etc. Science now referring to our times as the Anthropozoic era or Anthropocene. G is an extensive variable

10 Complex Systems

11 Solid and Environmental Earth Sciences
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Science Complex Earth System Earth System Processes Complex Dynamical System

12 A Complex or Emergent system has interdependent parts
Dictionary definition of complex uses “interconnected” or “interwoven” which have quite different meanings “Interdependent” variables help define dynamic systems : coupled differential equations Strong interactions do not imply interdependence.

13 Complex system: calcite
Normalized H+ concentration at the face of a growing crystal

14 Complex Earth System: Entropy and Information
Entropy of a physical system is largest when it is in equilibrium Most complex system is one at equilibrium Equilibrium systems have no spatial structure and do not change with time Complex systems have substantial internal structure and such structures change with time. Sensitivity to initial conditions “butterfly effect”

15 Complex Earth System: Entropy and Information
Manitoba: Lithology Geochemistry Hydrology Soil Geophysics Population Agriculture Weather…………… Limnology and varves

16 Complex Earth System: Entropy and Information
Local feedback at mineral surface that captures differential diffusion rates and thermal diffusion Composition changes with distance and time

17 Mineral Resources

18 Extraction and processing of minerals
Example of how we interact with the Earth over time Feedback between the lithosphere and our environment Feedback to our economies and social structures Interconnected or Interdependent? We seek equilibrium or sustainable conditions where the use of minerals is in balance with human needs. Complex System

19 All complex systems record Feedback : Social Structure
Public policy Government NGOs Environment Resources Economics Energy

20 Mines Ministers Conference I
Links between exploration and production cycles (6 – 30 years) and resources and reserves In Canada some resources depleted by the the end of this decade Demographics ~80% of geologists within 15 – 20 years of retirement 300 of 2.5 Million US high school grads interested in mining

21 Mines Ministers Conference II
More maps Integrated databases HQP Disconnect between University curricula and what is needed by Industry How can disconnected elements be involved in feedback?

22 Research and Training

23 Research Out of ~320 academics surveyed for the last reallocation exercise ~6% indicated they would be doing research on mineral deposits. Large portion of NSERC funds now targeted Discovery grants NSERC-CRD Strategic grants

24 Research Atom coordination on mineral surfaces
As3+ v. As5+ mediated by seasonally controlled bacteria Pd coordination by EXAFS Asbestos and ferrihydrite from lung tissue

25 Research Atomic Force Microscopy LAM-ICP-MS Synchrotron Radiation

26 NSERC reallocation “Recognition of the strong interactions that are now occurring between humankind and the Earth System currently constitutes both an urgent research challenge as well as an important research opportunity for Earth Sciences” “Recognition of the strong interdependence between humankind and the Earth System currently constitutes both an urgent research challenge as well as an important research opportunity for Earth Sciences”

27 NSERC strategy for Future Development of the Discipline
Three areas deemed to be intellectually, socially, economically and culturally significant: Proposals 1, 2 & 3 Global Environmental Change and the Challenge of Greenhouse Warming Earth Resources: Environmental Stewardship and Sustainable Development (Petroleum, Freshwater, Energy and Mineral Resources) Earth System Evolution and Dynamics (seismic arrays and analytical instrumentation)

28 Results: Steering Committee* Budget 2002-03 Reallocations Contribution
Proposals Funded Through Reallocations Total Reallocated  1 2 3 4 5 6 7             Chemistry 30,419,700 (3,041,970) 1,505,000 1,000,000 2,005,000 4,510,000 Condensed Matter Physics 8,412,794 (841,279) 825,000 365,000 275,000 1,465,000 General Physics 4,580,501 (458,050) 125,000 280,000 405,000 Solid and Environmental Earth Sciences 20,711,732 (2,071,173) 700,000 600,000 1,300,000 Space, Astronomy and Relativity 6,289,088 (628,909) 515,000 Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics 826,286 (82,629) 190,000 Subatomic Physics 13,845,550 (1,384,555) 175,000 130,000 920,000 255,000 1,845,000

29 Interconnected or Interdependent?

30 Geology curricula Requirements for Grass Roots Exploration:
Acceptable business political and related risks: permitting, environmental, taxes, ownership, social issues, business strategy, price and marketing Relevance of curricula Courses added to curricula such as environmental geology, geomorphic process, Earth system science Mineral deposits represents only one of the areas we are called on to support

31 The “disconnect” University curricula: geology, math, physics, chemistry, structural geology, paleontology, petrology (Ig/Met/Sed), stratigraphy, sedimentology, basin analysis, instrumental methods, mineralogy, global tectonics, petroleum geology, crystallography, mineral deposits, field mapping, thesis, communications, geochemistry, geomorphology ……………Professional Registration Electives, 5 courses Environmental, law, ethics, economics Soil microbiology……………

32 Sustaining Geology: Interdependence
Research: number of themes, practical, theoretical and socially relevant Teaching programs: Professional Registration requirements Flexibility to include social relevance environmental stewardship mineral and energy resources sustainable development

33 Sustaining Earth “Sustaining Earth means keeping the planet’s life support systems functional without going in to a long term decline so that human habitation can be indefinite” Life support system includes soils, water atmosphere and biosphere. If any part fails…………. Doesn’t speak to purpose or quality of life

34 Sustaining Geology : Survival
geology is the “service” science to the Earth and the Environment quantitative data on the physical and chemical behaviour and characteristics of Earth materials many environmental and industrial process used to be considered relatively benign, advances in technology and theory mean we have gained a much better understanding of what is really going on. model the behaviour of minerals in natural and industrial systems. the theoretical and instrumental expertise needed to tackle many mineral extraction, mineral processing and environmental problems is resident in geology departments and geology surveys. a truly unique aspect to geological work is that it is the geologist (the one who maps the rocks) who samples the minerals in the appropriate spatial and temporal context.

35 Geology : Emergence Interdependence
“Geology” as we currently know it is rapidly becoming the professionally registerable practice of Earth Science Earth Science suggests an increasing awareness of the whole system, more degree options, more courses. Larger integrated faculty with more facilities. Geology and our resource requirements need to be framed in a social context Interdependence

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