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Year of Carbon Logo

2019 at the Geological Society is the themed Year of Carbon!

Following on from our 2018 themed Year of Resources, in 2019 we are looking at carbon, one of the most important elements on our planet.

Carbon is of critical importance in:

  • The oceans and atmosphere where it has important consequences for the global climate system.
  • Complex organic molecules that led to life on Earth.
  • Carbon-based energy resources which remain of critical importance as both a source of energy but also in planning for a future carbon-neutral society.
  • Understanding the carbon budget of our planet over long timescales, which requires quantification of the cycling of carbon between surface reservoirs and Earth’s deep interior.

Carbon is also at the heart of a number of important societal challenges. The rapid increase in atmospheric CO2, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time, and will occupy generations to come. Carbon-based fuels, however, remain essential for our economy, transport, communications and everyday life and petroleum geoscience develops innovation in exploration, in extraction and in mitigating emissions. 

In the future, however, a move to carbon-neutral fuels and energy sources is unavoidable, and is the focus of much research, including studies in the field of carbon sequestration.

Throughout 2019 the Society will explore the geoscience of carbon through research conferences, lectures, our education programme and other activities.

Conferences and Meeting Programme

We are running a number of carbon-themed conferences through 2019 on a wide variety of research focussed topics as well as more applied and societal challenge-led areas.

The Lyell Meeting: Carbon Geochemical and palaeobiological perspectives

28 June 2019

The fundamental building block of life as we know it, carbon, is critical to the Earth system. Traditionally biological and chemical approaches to understanding carbon dynamics in the geological past have been considered in relative isolation. 

For the 2019 Lyell Meeting we will bring together a broad spectrum of scientists that address the big picture of carbon in the Earth system, drawing on expertise in palaeontology, geochemistry, palaeobotany, atmospheric processes, deep-Earth processes, and anthropogenic impacts.

Register now to attend

Bryan Lovell Meeting: Role of geological science in the decarbonisation of power production, heat, transport and industry

21-23 January 2019

BL Meeting

The aim of the Bryan Lovell meetings is to focus on an area of geoscience relevant to major societal challenges as outlined in the Society’s Geology for Society report. To chime with the Year of Carbon, the 2019 Bryan Lovell meeting focused on decarbonising the energy sector and the areas that will involve the subsurface and require geoscience expertise. 

The programme covered geoscience as it relates to the following areas:

  • battery technologies for electric vehicles
  • geothermal power
  • the civil nuclear program and geological disposal of radioactive waste
  • carbon capture and storage
  • siting of wind turbines
  • hydrogen storage in the subsurface
  • the geoscience skills needed to deliver these programmes

Videos of the talks and the meeting report are available on the Bryan Lovell event page.

Janet Watson Meeting: From core to atmosphere: Deep Carbon

26-28 February 2019

Steaming earth, trees, red

Janet Watson Meetings focus specifically on early career geoscientists who are invited to present their research to both peers and industry representatives. 

The 2019 meeting focused on deep carbon and the programme covered the following themes:

  • Deep Carbon origins, storage and transport
  • Carbon in the deep biosphere
  • Deep Carbon through time
  • The future of Deep Carbon research
  • Deep Carbon synthesis

For more information on the meeting go to the Janet Watson past event.

Other Conferences & Events

Our calendar lists events taking place in the Year of Carbon.


We welcome suggestions for events and activities.

To find out more please email:

Related Links

2019 Year of Carbon 

View peer-reviewed carbon related content in the Lyell Collection.

The Society's Public Lectures

Public Lectures banner 2019

The annual Public Lecture programme will feature a number of themed year related talks.

Speakers include:

Kate Kiseeva, University of Oxford – Diamonds as windows into the deep Earth

Carrie Lear, Cardiff University - Palaeoceanography

Tamsin Mather, University of Oxford – Volcanoes and past climate

Ros Rickaby, University of Oxford – Biogeochemistry, joint with the Royal Society of Chemistry

GSL Publications

Geological Society publications will be launching a number of Year of Carbon themed initiatives. 

These will including carbon-themed content collections and other themed publication products:


PG Journal – thematic set on Geological storage of CO2, gas and energy 

Society logo OvalA collection on carbon in the Journal of the Geological Society

Outreach activities

As in previous themed years, the External Relations team will be working on a number of outreach, education and policy materials and activities relating to the Year of Carbon.

These include:

Year of Carbon rock sets. One on display at Burlington House year round, with another available for schools/groups to borrow. 

GSL linkSee our growing collection of Rock sets

Thematic factsheets on a number of carbon-related themes aimed at school students in key stage 3. 

GSL linkEnergy factsheets available now