Fifty years of plate tectonics: past, current and future questions – presented by Marco Maffione.
Plate tectonics is the most unifying theory in Earth Sciences and one of the top five most relevant theories in the Sciences. Plate tectonics is the simple and elegant explanation of how our planet has been, is, and will be shaped by the continuous movements and interactions of tectonic plates. I will guide you through the long journey of scientific discoveries that brought several scientists with different backgrounds to contribute to the birth of the plate tectonics theory, ultimately formulated just over 50 years ago. Since then we have understood much of how our planet works, which helped in the ‘90s to reach a new important discovery on how our oceans expand. Today we still have several questions about key processes, such as the formation of new subduction zones, which represent new challenges for the current and future generations of Earth scientists.

From Coprolites to Cholera – the extraordinary life of William Buckland,Presented by Peter Lincoln.
Abstract – William Buckland (1784-1856), Oxford’s first ‘Professor’ of geology, was a central figure of the ‘heroic’ foundational age of geological investigation. Buckland was a meticulous scientist and a devout, if sometimes rather too down-to-earth, clergyman. A charismatic lecturer, his flamboyant delivery stimulated his admirers and scandalised his detractors and, as a result, he was both venerated and vilified in life and, since his death, his eccentricities have often been more remembered than his achievements. However, Buckland’s foundational work in stratigraphy and palaeontology – his explanation of hyena den at Kirkdale won him the Royal Society’s Copley Medal – and his early acceptance of glacial theory put him firmly at the forefront of early nineteenth century geological endeavour. Equally at home with queens and quarrymen, William Buckland’s humanity shone through in everything he did. Appointed Dean of Westminster in 1845, he did not hesitate to use his new position to advocate scientific solutions to the problems of famine and disease. In this talk I shall aim to restore the memory of this geological hero by describing his long and eventful life and outlining some of his many achievements, both in geology and in the wider world.