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The good, the bad and the ugly: the last 13 years of U-series dating carbonates from South Africa

Bern, Switzerland
Contact person
Franziska Lechleitner
E-Mail address
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"The good, the bad and the ugly: the last 13 years of U-series dating carbonates from South Africa"

Student meet-and-greet seminar with Dr. Robyn Pickering, Department of Geological Sciences and Human Evolution Research Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa.


Date: Tuesday, 31 May
Time: 10:00-12:00 (MESZ)
Location: Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCBP), University of Bern, Switzerland, Freiestrasse 3, Room S379


South Africa has an extraordinary record of human evolution spanning the last ~3 million years, from the fossil remains of our early pre-human relatives in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, through to more recent evidence for the emergence of modern humans.

Common to almost all these important human evolution sites are the presence of carbonate deposits, be they caves or open-air sites. Knowing how old the sites are, understanding the depositional environment and the ability to date the carbonates as records of past hydroclimate variability has motivated many years of research into them.

While U-Th dating is a precise, robust, and very useful chronometer in human evolution, the biggest breakthroughs in the last decade have come from U-Pb dating. However, aspects of this chronometer remain a challenging analytical exercise, more-so as the technique becomes routinely applied to carbonates with less-than-ideal U/Pb ratios.

In this seminar, I will present (almost) all the research I have done since leaving the University of Bern in 2009! The good, the bad and the very ugly, as well as the new, much more exciting work being done by my postgraduate students.

"She is an exceptional geochemist specialised in U-Th and U-Pb dating of carbonate deposits. Her research has been very influential for determining the timing of early human history, for example at the “Cradle of Humankind” site. "


Send an email to: by 19 May to sign up.

Talk: Robyn Pickering

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