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Cruising the Southwest Pacific: a year in the life of a pumice


Monday 13 Octber, 12:00pm

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room, JCU (DB44). Video-link to Centre for Marine Studies, UQ
Dr Scott Bryan, Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research (CEESR) Kingston University United Kingdom. Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland

Scott Bryan is currently on dual appointments as a Principal Research Fellow at the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland in Australia and as Senior Lecturer at Kingston University in the United Kingdom. He graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Science degree with First Class Honours in Geology in 1991 and then from Monash University with a PhD in Earth Sciences in 1999. Scott was an ARC Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Queensland from 1999-2003 before being appointed as the Damon Wells Research Fellow at Yale University. Part of his research at Yale investigated a pumice rafting event following an explosive eruption in Tonga in 2001. In 2006, Scott took up the post of Senior Lecturer at Kingston University in London where he received Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funding to investigate the latest pumice rafting event in the southwest Pacific, and which forms the basis for the seminar presentation.


Rafting, the transport of organisms by floating items, is considered to be an important dispersal mechanism in the marine environment, particularly for those species that possess short-lived or no pelagic larval stages. A variety of floating items exists in the oceans that vary from biological to anthropogenic in origin, but volcanic pumice is the most significant in terms of its longevity, distances travelled, the sheer abundance and volume of material introduced into the oceans following explosive eruptions, the potential biomass that it can transport long-distances, the hazards posed after eruptions, and the range of environmental impacts (both positive and negative) that it can have.

This seminar will focus on a range of impacts from pumice rafting events, particularly those following three eruptions over the last  125 years – the 1883 eruption of Krakatau, and two recent eruptions in Tonga (2001, 2006), as well as the struggle for seamount volcanoes to become emergent and permanent fixtures above sea level. Even following the recent small to moderate-sized eruptions in Tonga, the pumice rafts can last for months to years in the ocean realm. Pumice rafting is likely to be the primary process responsible for the development of globalism of some marine species both in the present-day, and in the geologic past. This is also a vector with the potential to restock damaged portions of the Great Barrier Reef or supply invasive species and circumvent quarantine measures.


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