25 AUGUST | 10:15–11:45

Studying the Void

Timo Lähivaara, Christof Pearce, Anna Törnroos-Remes

The void is the philosophical concept of nothingness manifested, often discussed within metaphysics. The void is also relevant to several scientific disciplines such as physics, particularly astrophysics and cosmology, particle physics and material science. The Void, however, is seldom reflected upon when it comes to “empty spaces” underneath our feet, that is, in our soils or marine sediments. But they are there, in various forms and shapes, filled with something, nothing or perhaps many things. 

In this performative session, we study voids in the soils, underground and in marine sediments from the perspectives of marine biology and ecology, geology and paleoclimatology, as well as computational physics. We will discuss what voids are (or are not) in the different disciplines, from what or whom they exist, how we can study and “see” them, why we need to understand them and what we can learn about them from each other.

Figure. A sneak-peak into the voids of the ground (soil and sediment) that we will study in the performative session. What are they, who/what forms them and why should we care? Top-left corner (picture by Törnroos): animal-caused void structures in seafloor sediment. Top-right corner (picture by Lähivaara et al., 2015): a shapshot of seismic waves propagating through a porous aquifer. Below (picture by Pearce et al.): CT scan of marine sediment core sample with voids. 

Timo Lähivaara is currently employed as a senior researcher in the Computational Physics and Inverse Problems research group at the Department of Technical Physics at the University of Eastern Finland. Lähivaara’s research primarily focuses on computational techniques applicable to solving wave-dominated inverse problems using high-performance computing. He is particularly interested in the potential of wave-carried information to contribute to scientific breakthroughs in various areas, such as monitoring of groundwater resources using seismic data and microwave-based drying applications. 

Photo of Christof Pearce

Christof Pearce is an Assistant Professor in Arctic Paleoclimatology and studies marine sediments as archives to reconstruct climate variability of the past. A key motivation is to investigate how the ongoing modern changes in climate and environment relate to natural variability in the past and how this knowledge can be used to understand and predict future scenarios. Pearce specializes in the reconstruction of past ice conditions, both sea ice and land-based ice sheets, on decadal to millennial time scales. He employs a wide array of methods, including micropaleontology, organic biomarkers and analyses of physical properties of sediments, and he is especially interested in chronology and improving the age determination of sedimentary layers. After studying and working in Sweden and the Netherlands, Pearce is now based at the Department of Geoscience of Aarhus University in Denmark.

Photo of Anna Törnroos-Remes
Photo: Linda Svarfvar

Anna Törnroos-Remes is an Associate Professor (tenure track) at Environmental and Marine Biology and the interdisciplinary research profile The Sea at Åbo Akademi University. Her research focuses on the functioning of coastal areas, marine environments and particularly the seafloor. She is especially interested in what organisms do in the system, that is, what roles or functions they perform and how that translates to services for us humans, such as food resources, stabilisation of coastal landscapes and carbon sequestration. With a passion for life in the sea, her recent work also brings her across disciplines such as social science, business and technology and humanities to investigate our human relationship with the sea and marine socio-ecological challenges, or wicked problems. In this performative session she will act as a moderator as well as discussion participant.