Deep Earth Detective
Niam's Notable career moments
Gained work experience in a medical research lab
Began studying medical research
Swapped into maths and physics
Discovered the world of science outreach and communication
Spent a year using maths to study the brain
Changed fields again, now I use earthquakes to study Antarctica
About Niam Askey-Doran
The ground beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet rises and falls as though the Earth is breathing. The red hot rocks that lie hundreds of kilometres beneath the Earth’s surface behave a bit like a memory foam mattress. The giant ice sheet in Antarctica weighs the crust underneath it down, causing it to sink deeper into the Earth. When the ice melts and the weight is removed, the crust slowly rises back up, just like a memory foam mattress would if you got off of it. This is just one of the ways in which the Earth is constantly changing, and as its residents it is important that we try to understand these changes.
That’s where scientists like you and me come in! My job is to try to work out what the earth looks like hundreds of kilometres beneath the surface in Antarctica. We can’t easily see beneath the Earth’s surface, but by measuring Earthquakes happening around the world we can work out interesting things about the rocks inside the Earth, like how squishy or stiff they are – a bit like doing an x-ray of the Earth. Knowing these things helps other scientists to predict how changes in the Earth’s crust influence the melting of ice in Antarctica.
I’ve always been interested in science, but never knew exactly what I wanted to study. One of the cool things about being a scientist though is that you’re never locked in to learning about one topic. If you’re curious enough you can learn about anything you like, and you get to see how connected the different fields of science are.
I hope that my work can help us to better deal with the effects of climate change. I also hope to one day go to Antarctica!