Going Green: How Land Plants Changed Everything

Image of dry cracked earth during a drought.
Seán Thór Herron
Date 03/02/2023 at 17.45 - 03/02/2023 at 19.15 Where Roger Needham Room (Chancellor's Centre) & Zoom

Land plants have only existed for 10% of Earth History – what was it like before, and what changed?

Image of dry cracked earth during a drought.


For 90% of Earth history, our planet’s surface was unvegetated. 150 million years after the first macroscopic animals began to move across our shallow seas, plants began to populate the terrestrial surface. They changed everything: geochemical cycles; atmospheric chemistry; ocean chemistry; the carbon cycle; the course of the evolution of life itself. What are the key ways the Earth changed, and how do we know, as evidenced by the geological record? What are the similarities and differences between the Early Earth and other unvegetated planets, like Mars? This talk will discuss what geological and sedimentological research reveals about the dramatic influence of plants on the Earth’s surface; how its life and landscape evolved, and how we come to understand this.



Seán Thór Herron is a PhD student at University of Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences. He is the former President of BlueSci, the Cambridge University Science Magazine.



This is a hybrid event, which will take place in-person in the Gatsby Room (Chancellor's Centre) and also on Zoom.

If you would like to attend online, please register for the Zoom link.

For the in-person audience, drinks and snacks will be available after the talk.


The Science Society organises regular talks spanning a wide range of topics every Friday during term time.

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