Fire Roundtable

In this third roundtable for semester 2 2021, Dr Agathe Lise-Pronovost, Dr Matt Cupper, A/Prof Michael-Shawn Fletcher and A/Prof Robyn Schofield showcase current research in the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences focused on the dating, use, management and impacts of fire. The session is moderated by Masters student Caitlin Minney

Agathe explores how fired materials acquire a snapshot of Earth’s magnetic field at the time of cooling through Thermal Remanent Magnetisation, and its use in Australian Archaeology.

Matt covers the use of optically stimulated luminescence to date past human hearths (fireplaces), in particular the heated quartzose silt in ash and hearthstones – a method recently employed to date a 45,000-year-old hearth, the oldest known human occupation site on the Darling River.

Michael presents information that attempts to recast our relationship with fire from one based on fear and suppression to one of utility and necessity. He lays the blame for the recent spate of catastrophic bushfires in Australia at the feet of poor management.

Robyn then addresses the questions: What are the implications of fire for health, air and water, and what will happen when we stop using fire (combustion) for energy production?

The presentations are followed by a question and answer session.