Juliane Dannberg

Postdoctoral Fellow

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KlarText – Prize for Science Communication


"What exactly did you do in your PhD?" The KlarText Prize for Science Communication (see their website) that I won in October 2017 is all about answering this question, and it is awarded by the German foundation Klaus Tschira Stiftung. The foundation is looking for young scientists who are passionate about their work and are interested in explaining their PhD research to an audience of non-scientists, in the form of an article that everyone can understand (and that is written in German).

My contribution "Up and Down in the Earth's Mantle", that won the award in the category "Physics", can be found here, and it was published in a special supplement to the weekly newsletter DIE ZEIT. In this text, I discuss the motion of rocks in the Earth's deep interior: Cold rocks sink downwards, whereas hot rocks rise – just as the flow in a lava lamp, only much slower. When hot, rising rocks approach the surface of the Earth, they begin to melt and generate magma, which leads to volcanic eruptions. In my PhD, I developed computer simulations that take into account the chemical composition of these rocks, and the motion of both solid rock and molten magma. My results let me conclude that the ascent of hot material from the Earth's deep interior may release enough magma and gases to trigger massive volcanic eruptions and even mass extinction events – such as at the end of the era of the dinosaurs.

Below, I explain my research in a 4-minute video (which was produced by the Klaus Tschira foundation as part of the award).
© Klaus Tschira Stiftung (English subtitles added by Juliane Dannberg)