We had an extremely embracing and enjoyable talk given by Dr Natalie Starkey, with her lecture entitled: Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System.

  • Natalie gave us an extremely well delivered and dynamic talk, in which we were treated to understanding her passion for the study of volcanoes here on Earth as well as for volcanic activity which has occurred in almost every corner of the Solar System, and surprisingly in some of the most unexpected locations!
  • After being introduced to her passion for volcanoes (inspired by legendary volcanologists Katia and Maurice Kraft who both unfortunately paid the ultimate price for their extremely high-risk research), Natalie introduced the history, geological properties and different types of volcanic eruptions here on Earth, recounting many from her exciting first hand ‘fly by’ research site visits.
  • Natalie then described her passion for geological space research and takes us on a learning galactic tour of how volcanoes are formed and found in our Solar System. This is full of amazing images with cutting edge geological space information in which we learn about how common ice volcanoes are in our ‘icy worlds’, as well as the processes and knowledge learnt from our extinct ‘fiery worlds’ all found throughout our solar system.
  • The current known research of the ‘ocean worlds’ of Europa and Enceladus, describing how plumes have helped form Saturn’s rings is then discussed, before finalising by talking about the recent and surprising geological processes found on our furthest neighbour, Pluto. The talk concluded by discussing the big question of whether life may be found on some of these active worlds.

The talk was delivered superbly and full of enthusiasm. The slides are beautifully illustrated and there are some amazing images, including a gif video image of an erupting plume from Io’s Tvashtar volcano, which is simply awesome!

This was another terrific talk and is again, one that should not be missed!

And on a final note, I now have Natalie’s two books on my astronomy wish list.

Natalie Starkey is a geologist and cosmochemist. Following a PhD at Edinburgh University studying the geochemistry of Arctic volcanoes, Natalie’s post-doctoral work at The Open University shifted her research focus to comet and asteroid samples. It was at this time she got the chance to analyse samples returned by the NASA Stardust and JAXA Hayabusa space missions.
Natalie received a British Science Association Media Fellowship in 2013, the same year she became a BBC Expert Woman, and regularly appears on television and radio internationally, as well as being a science host on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular StarTalk Radio. Her popular science writing includes Fire & Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System, Catching Stardust: Comets, Asteroids and the Birth of the Solar System, and numerous articles for The Guardian, New Scientist, All About Space and The Sky At Night.

Will Joy