Volcanoes are the most dramatic of natural phenomenon, showing that we live on a dynamic evolving planet. I am interested in understanding how they work and using this knowledge to prevent disasters when volcanoes erupt. Video credit: Yoho Media
Mike Benton is a palaeontologist, and he is particularly interested in the origin and evolution of dinosaurs, and especially the remarkable changes in adaptations as some small flesh-eating dinosaurs evolved into birds.
He also works on large patterns in evolution, such as the devastating end-Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago, which wiped out nine out of every ten species, but was then followed by a remarkable diversification of life. Video credit: Yoho Media
Molten rock, or magma, links geological phenomena as diverse as volcanism, ore formation and growth of Earth's crust. Although we cannot observe directly underground magmatic processes, we can infer them from the chemistry and textures of rocks, once molten, now exposed on Earth's surface.
My research explores novel methods of interrogating magmatic rocks as to their formation. This is a kind of forensic science, in which rocks are the mute witnesses to unimaginable subterranean ordeals on timescales from the minutes preceding a volcanic blast to the 4 billion years of Earth history.
At my disposal are a wealth of sophisticated analytical techniques, high temperature experimental apparata and field observations. The challenge (and the excitement) is in asking the right kinds of questions... Video credit: Yoho Media
Discover how world- leading experts in volcanology and climate modelling are shaping our knowledge of global change and human development.
Professor Mike Benton discusses his research into the origin of birds and feathers, and the potential for reconstructing the colours of extinct organisms.