Hi there I am Ray Zammit, a part-time Phd student at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University. Welcome to my blog: From Adelie to Malta.
I live in Malta and my full time occupation is that of a 6th from physics teacher at De La Salle College sixth form Cottonera. I also do some part-time lecturing at the University of Malta. I am also married and the proud father of a 23 month old boy and a five year old girl. As you can imagine I already have a lot on my plate with my family and working commitments, but somehow I am managing to find time to devote to my Phd project.
A Phd in Earth Science why?
My interests in science have always been very varied, anything scientific seems to grab my attention! Over the past twenty years or so I have been interested in many scientific areas including electronics, astronomy , environment, geology…… all this uncertainty into what I really like led me to Earth science. Earth Science, with its multidisciplinary approach seems to satisfy many of my interests. Mass spectrometers, high tech analytical equipment, astronomical cycles, geology, lab. techniques, field work .. so many things to keep my brain buzzing!
The Blog title
From Adelie to Malta. Well the two places couldn’t be any more different these days! One is a frozen wasteland home of the Adelie penguins while the other is a small Mediterranean island state home to a number of endemic lizards which seem to enjoy staying out in the scorching sun. So what is the link between the two locations? Adelie and the whole island continent of Antarctica haven’t always been covered by an ice sheet, back in the Cretaceous (over 65 million years ago) Antarctica was ice free and environments similar to what we find in Malta today were possibly present. The Earth’s climate changed significantly after the warm Cretaceous period, such that the following period, the Cenozoic is typified by gradual long term cooling. This cooling eventually led to the formation of a permanent ice-sheet, first on Antarctica and eventually also at the North Pole. The formation of the Antarctic ice-sheet would have had profound effects on the dynamics of the Earth’s climate and would have definitely influenced the chemistry of the oceans. These chemical signals have been stored in the sediments which accumulate on the ocean floor and over the past 60 years or so have provided much of the evidence needed to understand past climate change. Sometimes, through the process of plate tectonics, the sea-floor gets uplifted and forms dry land, this is exactly how the Maltese archipelago came into being. This means that the rocks which are exposed in the cliffs, beaches and valleys of the Maltese islands carry a chemical signal which is between 25 and 7 million years old and which can be used to understand fundamental questions about past climates. Therefore the geology of the Maltese Islands can be used to ask questions related to the formation of ice sheets of Antarctica and to why Adelie is so different from Malta nowadays.
The main aim of my PhD project is to study the geochemistry of Maltese rock outcrops and link it to major, global climatic upheavals at around 23 million years ago which have shaped both Adelie and Malta in very different ways.
Post-Graduate research student
School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University.