In News

The Jurassic Coast Trust is lucky to have a great team of volunteers and ambassadors who readily give up their time to support us over a huge range of fundraising activities. From running guided walks to helping at Dinosaur Sleepovers they are always there, cheerful and friendly, engaging people with the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. 

So what kind of people are they? Our team comes from all walks of life and we thought it would be a fun idea to introduce you to some of them. For this blog post we’ve interviewed Gabriella Rossi, a volunteer who joined us last year and who’s at the beginning of her career in geological science. 

 Tell us a little about yourself, Gabriella.

I’m Gabriella and I grew up in Devon in a little village called Christow. I was a good student and my geography teacher in Year 8 really inspired me. Initially, I found her quite scary but then she ended up becoming one of my favourite teachers. She really caught my attention and I found her lessons quite mesmerising.

What’s your relationship with the Jurassic Coast? Is it a place that’s inspired you? 
I remember visiting the Jurassic Coast on camping holidays with my parents. I remember Seatown, Lyme Regis and Charmouth. Charmouth was where I first went fossil hunting and it really inspired me. I remember well, sitting on the beach with my mum, opening rocks and being mesmerised by the ammonite imprints. Obviously, my mum didn’t want them in the house so I was very sad when a couple of months later I found they’d disintegrated in the garden where I’d left them. The sheer beauty of the Jurassic Coast has inspired me as it’s such a wonderful place to have beach holidays as well as its geological significance.

How long have you been an ambassador for JCT, what’s your role and what do you most enjoy about it? 

I started in the summer of 2022, so around a year and a half ago. I’d been a lurker for quite a while because I’d volunteered at Sidmouth Geology Fair back in 2017. The Jurassic Coast Trust had a stall set up there and they signed me up for the newsletter. I read a copy that said you were looking for volunteers and jumped on the opportunity to volunteer. The first event I volunteered at was the Summer Sleepover at Golden Cap. It was three days long and an incredible experience. I got to teach kids about fossils, but honestly, a lot of them taught me a lot more! I’d forgotten how inquisitive and smart little kids can be when they have a special interest. I’d covered some palaeontology in my degree and the JCT team had trained me well with a quick presentation beforehand. They had some cool fossil specimens from local beaches, too.  

Dinosaur Sleepovers: You've a reputation for being cheerful in the mornings after only four hours sleep (!) so what makes you a morning person?
The first cup of tea in the morning is a big motivation for me. My first thought when I wake up is where am I getting my cup of tea from? Also, my mum is a very energetic person and I think I’ve naturally absorbed that.

Tell us more about what you've been studying and where

I studied Geography at GCSE and went on to study Geology at A Level because I didn’t like writing long essays - my English skills were quite poor at the time - and I preferred the idea of writing short answers. This is quite ironic as I’m now in the process of writing a 40,000 word thesis! I really enjoyed my A Level studies as we did lots of field trips thanks to my incredible teacher, Kitt. We visited lots of geologically significant places, including Lulworth Cove, and I feel like I really got lucky to get out and visit so many incredible places. I knew after this that geology was where I wanted to go, so after researching different universities I decided to apply for the University of South Wales. They had the highest amount of course work and I hated exams so it seemed to make sense. The course was very intense right the way through but I came out of it with a cracking degree and an average mark of 89%!

Can you tell us about the focus of your current research?

I’m doing a Masters Degree (Research) with Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL) in Cornwall and with the University of South Wales. GEL are the owners and operators of the United Downs deep geothermal project, which will be the UK’s first geothermal power plant. The pioneering project builds on data from research undertaken at the ‘Rosemanowes Dry Hot Rocks Project’ in the 1980s and ‘90s, which originally proved extremely high temperatures could be found at depth in Cornwall.
GEL have drilled 5 km into the Porthtowan Fault Zone, an area with a high concentration of naturally occurring fractures, providing permeability pathways within the granite. Uranium, Thorium and Potassium within the granite, produces heat from radioactive decay, which drives the geothermal system; more than 180 °C at 5 km depth. A second 2 km well will reinject the geothermal fluid after power generation, creating a circulating system of hot ground water.
My research will use GEL’s subsurface data and geothermal reservoir modelling software, Leapfrog Energy. For the reservoir modelling, I’ll be using the software and inputting subsurface data including the well data, faults, microseismic events and rock types, to produce a 3D representation of what’s going on underground and understanding how the geothermal fluid is circulating within the hot granite! It’s a great tool for visualising the rocks beneath our feet and understanding the geothermal systems in Cornwall.

So ultimately, where would you like your research to lead you?

It’s difficult, because every time I think about what I want to do in the future, it changes the more I learn about what’s out there. I learn about new industries, new jobs, and it all sounds so incredible that I’m very open at the moment to whatever opportunity comes my way. But, I’m interested in oil and gas, which is very similar to geothermal energy in terms of modelling where fluid would flow through the rocks. I’m also interested in the lithium exploration that’s taking place in Cornwall at the moment. I love being out in the field, so being a field geologist would be so cool. I think that once I’ve finished my research I’ll be a lot more clued up and decide where I want to go next. I loved geophysics and stereonets, too, so I will definitely go into geoscience in some form or another and won’t let my degree go to waste!

Well, we’re going to take a sideways step for the next question: Can you describe your ideal day on the Jurassic Coast?

It would definitely start with waking up in a tent on a summer’s day.. With a beautiful blue sky.. A trangia so I could make a cup of tea… A lovely morning walk down to the beach - getting down there early, around 7:00 am… Getting a spot on the beach… Having a morning nap… Waking up to the warm 10:00 am sun and then an early lunch and a coastal walk, with a dip in the sea to end the day!

And which beach would you choose?

There are so many beautiful beaches but I think Charmouth would have to be the one because of the magical memories I have of opening up fossils there.

If you’d like to find out more about volunteering for the Jurassic Coast Trust then take a look at our website page here or drop us a line at There are many different ways of helping us out and we offer great training, work experience and social opportunities - so what are you waiting for?




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