Name: Anna Bidgood
Year of study: 2nd
Department: Earth Sciences
Research group: The Hard Rock group

What are you researching:  Continental subduction – specifically the India-Asia collision. How is a continent subducted? How does it return to the surface? And what processes occur during its history?

Why should we care about it: Plate tectonics is a fundamental process happening on the Earth’s surface, influencing many different aspects of the Earth systems above and below ground. Continental subduction and subsequent continental collision is a major mountain building process and has implications for natural resources, earthquakes and the evolution of the continents through time. By understanding these processes and how they have changed through time, we are able to determine how the Earth has evolved and use this as a tool for predicting how the Earth’s surface might change in the long term.

Metamorphic processes influence the geodynamics of subduction zones, so in order to predict and understand the large scale processes the microscale processes must also be understood. The influence and availability of water in the crust is a fundamental component of metamorphic reactions and subsequently the behaviour of a continental margin.

Academic background: I studied Earth Sciences as an undergraduate at Oxford University. For my master’s project I looked at the evidence of mountain building in garnets in Massachusetts and tried to figure out what this petrological record is recording.

Motivation: The rocks on the Earth’s surface provide us with a snippet of what is happening or has happened throughout geological time. The fact that this is preserved on the earth’s surface in some amazing places really motivates me to visit these places and study these rocks. The huge amount of information you can gain about the evolution of a mountain belt, from looking at a thin section of rock and the information on the microscale is truly incredible.

Funniest fieldwork story: Whilst mapping in the coastal range in British Columbia with the Geological Survey of BC, I was dropped off by helicopter on a mountain ridge above the treeline. After scrambling through dense bush on the side of one of these ridges, I sat down exhausted on a rock and unknowingly sat on my bear spray, which had lost its cap during the scramble through the bush. I not only managed to bear spray myself but also my boss, who was immediately blind on the side of a mountain and not particularly pleased with me. All this on my first day! He never let me live it down.

Best of PhD so far: Fieldwork in the Indian Himalayas! Amazing rocks and incredible scenery. You can find out more about this trip in another blog.

Worst of PhD so far: Reading and writing a literature review.