It’s been 4 years since the last SIMSUG – a long time coming but worth the wait! Melanie Leng and her team at BGS did a great job of organising, promoting and hosting the event, which had an excellent turnout, a broad scientific programme, interesting tours around BGS and fun social events in Keyworth and Nottingham.
The conference started off on Wednesday with a stroll down the geological walkway at BGS where we learnt where in the UK the various rock exhibits had originated, their geological significance, and amusing anecdotes about the despondent looking Hercules. The tour continued into the core archives where thousands of sediment cores, which provide a geological record going back millions of years, are preserved in huge rolling shelves; an impressive display of the historical efforts of BGS and their collaborators. Onwards through the core preparation areas to the lab facilities, including the stable isotope lab where BGS produce a wealth of stable isotope data, particularly specialising in climate, environmental and archaeological studies.
The scientific talks and posters over the following two days covered paleoclimate, diet and animal management, isotopes in the marine environment, biogeochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, phosphate cycling, cautionary notes about sample preparation, clean up and data manipulation, and advances in methodology and instrumentation – including a talk on Sercon’s new high sensitivity source.
Prizes were awarded for excellent student presentations and gifts for the keynote speakers Peter Wynn and Tamsin O’Connell who gave incredibly interesting talks on the role of glaciers in methane emissions and the real “paleodiet”, respectively.
The scientific discussions carried on over dinner, and additional conference social events included a hilarious and interactive tour of the National Justice Museum, a guided walk round Nottingham, and drinks alongside narrowboats in the Canalhouse.
The SIMSUG baton has now been passed to Bristol for 2019, we look forward to seeing the UK stable isotope community and those joining us from further afield in two years!