May 26, 2021

Geology Bites – a podcast with researchers sharing earth and space science

Posted by Laura Guertin

Blog post co-authored by Oliver Strimpel and Laura Guertin


There has been a mini-explosion of podcasts that have appeared online recently, yet few dedicated to not only earth and space science but the scientists themselves. Please take a moment to read more about the podcast series Geology Bites from the founder and producer, Dr. Oliver Strimpel.


I (Oliver) have always wanted to grasp the widest spatial and temporal context in which we find ourselves. After completing a physics degree at Cambridge University, this led me to cosmology, and a PhD on the structure of clusters of galaxies at Oxford University. I then joined the Science Museum, London, where I discovered the challenges and rewards of conveying science to the public. In 1984 The Computer Museum in Boston recruited me, where, as Curator and Director, I developed exhibitions on the history, technology, and applications of computers.

Two things attracted me to geology. First, while the spatial dimensions are not cosmic in scale, we have fully one third of the age of the Universe right here under our feet. The earliest rocks on Earth were formed at a time when the Universe was a very different place. Second, I am in awe of our physical landscape, especially of mountain belts, and I wanted to understand the processes that have shaped the planet since it formed over four billion years ago. After I took several fine courses at the Open University and at MIT, Sam Bowring at MIT invited me to learn about geochronology in his isotope lab. Then, Mike Searle at Oxford invited me to take on a research project at Oxford. That developed into an effort to pin down movement along the Karakoram fault in Ladakh by U-Pb dating of the various intrusive phases adjacent to the fault near Lake Pangong. Geology Bites grew out of a desire to share nuggets and perspectives of this remarkable field of study and to reveal just how the ingenuity of its practitioners has enabled us to find out so much about the Earth.

Geology Bites logoGeology Bites aims to capture the key ideas of leading researchers in language that the non-specialist can understand. But while eliminating jargon, I have tried not to sacrifice the essence of the ideas, even when they are quite subtle or complex.

To date, episodes have focused on tectonics, geophysics and seismology, geodynamics, volcanism, paleontology and paleoclimate, geomorphology, and planetary science. AGU members may recognize some of the individuals interviewed, including the President of the AGU Planetary Sciences Section (2016-2018) Sarah Stewart, and several AGU Fellows (Robert Anderson, Bruce Buffett, Cathy Constable, James Jackson, Dan McKenzie, Peter Molnar, Barbara Romanowicz, David Sandwell, Steve Sparks, and John Valley).


To give you a flavor of the podcast series, here are a couple of episodes. Each episode page is supplemented with a web page that supports the podcast content.


Jan Smit on Resolving a Single Hour of the Cataclysm the Cretaceous 66 Million Years Ago


Gillian Foulger on Explaining Intra-Plate Volcanism Without Mantle Plumes


David Evans on Supercontinents


The podcast format is a 20- to 30-minute conversation between an eminent Earth scientist and me. Each episode is backed up by a dedicated web page on The series currently has 33 episodes, and I post new episodes every week or two – whenever they are ready.

I hope you enjoy the series and do please send me comments and suggestions or ask me to add you to the email list for notification of new episodes at [email protected]. You can also find me on Twitter (@OliverStrimpel, @geology_bites) and Instagram (@oliverstrimpel).


From a pedagogical perspective, I (Laura) see this collection of audio files as being an excellent complement to the geoscience career videos from Earth Science Resources and the text-only descriptions of geoscientists at Rock-Head Sciences, the NOAA Research Scientist Profiles collection, and more (see blog post Scientist Spotlights and Profiles Online). As we look to help students build a science identity and recognize the accomplishments of our colleagues, Geology Bites is a great addition to our toolkit for celebrating science and scientists.