Current PhD opportunities with BUFI

All our doctoral training opportunities listed below are now available through our Doctoral Training Partnerships.

Climate and landscape change
Investigating Heat Transport by Groundwater in Fractured Aquifers for Ground Energy Applications

Supervisors

Dr Fleur Loveridge (Southampton University)

Professor William Powrie (Southampton University)

Dr Nick Woodman (Southampton University)

Dr Corinna Abesser (British Geological Survey)

Description

The development of renewable energy, storage and exploitation of heat in the ground is becoming an important issue in the UK. The government’s aim to supply 15% of the energy from renewable sources by 2020 implies that ground source heat pump installations will increase by a factor of 30 over the next 5-7 years. This will result in large thermal loads being introduced to the geological formations (and the groundwater). It is therefore important to understand how groundwater interacts with these ground energy systems, to effectively manage the impact on the groundwater as well as on the efficiency of ground heat exchange (GHE) systems.

This research studentship will investigate the impact of groundwater flow on heat transfer in the subsurface, in porous media and in fractured ground. It will be part of a larger programme of research funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, which includes the development of large laboratory testing facilities for GHE.

As part of this programme the doctorial researcher (DR) will:

  • Carry out initial numerical and/or analytical studies to aid the design of large scale experiments
  • Conduct large scale experiments investigating the performance of GHE under different hydrogeological settings
  • Evaluate and adapt existing models for combined heat and groundwater flow simulations based on experimental data
  • Develop guidance for analysis of GHE installations in different aquifer types.

Training

Scientific training will be provided to support the DR in developing skills in:

  • Numerical and/or analytical modelling of groundwater flow and heat transport
  • Experimental design and data analysis
  • Methods of ground investigations and testing
  • Scientific research methods (including taught courses in Research Skills for postgraduate students).

The outcomes of this research are directly relevant to a variety of stakeholders, including groundwater modellers and engineers as well as the building and ground source heat pump industry. The project will offer the opportunity/ expects the DR to network and interact with these stakeholders by attending relevant meetings and by presenting results to the wider science community and to industry.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

SPITFIRE – Southampton

Effects of changing climate on a northern Sphagnum-derived peatland

Supervisors

Dr Geoff Abbott (Newcastle)

Chris Vane (British Geological Survey)

Dr Erin McClymont (Durham)

Description

One of the general findings from the latest Assessment Report of the United Nations IPCC is that warming of the atmosphere and ocean system is unequivocal. There is also no doubt that this will impact on northern peatlands which store about 550 Gt of carbon equivalent to approximately one third of global C stocks and 75% of the total pre-industrial amount of C stored in the atmosphere. The question addressed in this study is which of the following two types of feedback to climate warming is occurring in such ecosystems: positive feedback (acceleration of peat decay) or a negative feedback (an increase in carbon sequestration rate).

Peatland plants such as Sphagnum moss fix CO2 through photosynthesis and then store it as dead plant matter - peat! When this peat decays above the water-table, aerobic degradation causes release of CO2. But when the peat decays in places where oxygen is absent, below the water-table, methane (CH4) is emitted. It is well known that the problem with CH4 in the atmosphere is that it has a stronger warming effect than CO2. As evidence emerges of an intensifying global hydrological cycle, a pattern of dry regions becoming drier and wet regions becoming wetter is anticipated. These changes will impact upon the extent of seasonal depth fluctuations in peatland water tables and, in turn, on the emissions of greenhouse gases from northern peatlands. Our working hypothesis is that "bound" Sphagnum-derived phenolics, which inhibit microbial decomposition of the cell wall polysaccharides, will be stabilised in peatlands shifting to a wetter climate. In contrast, they will be gradually stripped away in surficial peats exposed to a drier climate, such that any rewetting of the peat could lead to anaerobic fermentation of the carbohydrates thereby increasing the vulnerability of the peat to further decomposition (Abbott et al., 2013; Swain & Abbott, 2013).

Core aim

To understand the relationship between the accumulation, as well as the degradation, processes of Sphagnum peat and seasonal water-table fluctuations. This is important because it will determine the factors that control carbon release (both as carbon dioxide and methane) in the context of a changing climate. We will do this by monitoring the Corg stocks and their molecular compositions as a function of distance from the water table at selected coring stations in the Butterburn Flow (a remote area of blanket bog on the Cumbria-Northumberland border, McClymont et al., 2008, 2011). We will achieve the core aim by combining instrumental observations with detailed characterisation of the peats. Our long term vision is progress towards carbon capture and storage using natural ecosystems.

Project plan

To understand the two-way relationship between water-table position and the phenolic biochemistry of the living plants, as well as the litter and the peat, we must monitor the water-table fluctuations in real time continuously. We will do this at hourly intervals at each coring station using self-logging pressure transducers (data loggers) which we will install and monitor in collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS). We will also measure both the densities and Corg contents in the unsaturated, seasonally-saturated and the permanently saturated layers of the peat. The molecular compositions of these peats will be characterised using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and/or liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC-MS) Laboratory experiments will also be run to experimentally test for oxidative mechanisms for the decomposition of Sphagnum and vascular plant-derived phenols. We aim to test whether a changing water table will significantly affect the carbon storage as well as the antioxidant capacity of the peat.

Recommended reading

Abbott G.D. et al. (2013) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 106, 177-191.

McClymont E.L. et al. (2008) The Holocene 8, 991-1002.

McClymont E.L. et al. (2011) Organic Geochemistry 42,1420-1435.

Swain E.Y. and Abbott G.D. (2013) Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 103, 2-7.

Timeline

Year 1: Fieldwork for collection of peat cores, installation and monitoring of data loggers, literature review.

Year 2: Molecular analyses using GCMS & LCMS, . construct age/depth model for peat bog, paper 1.

Year 3: Experiments to test for oxidative mechanisms for the decomposition of Sphagnum and vascular plant-derived phenols, paper 2.

Year 4: Thesis, paper 3.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – Newcastle

Contact

Dr Geoff Abbott (Newcastle)

Processes of and controls on erosion in bedrock rivers

Supervisors

Dr Rebecca Hodge (University of Durham)

Professor Trevor Hoey (University of Glasgow)

Dr Nick Rosser (University of Durham)

Dr Katie Whitbread (British Geological Survey)

Description

Bedrock rivers erode through the action of multiple processes (abrasion, plucking, solution, cavitation), shaping the channel morphology and ultimately affecting long-term landscape evolution. However, current understanding of the controls on and relative importance of the different processes is limited. Recent research has demonstrated that erosion is often controlled by sediment transport and in some cases is contingent upon transport, suggesting that understanding incision also requires consideration of sediment dynamics. The role of sediment is complicated by the contrasting roles that it can play in protecting and eroding bedrock. Furthermore, although incision rates broadly scale with rock strength, it is unclear as to which components of rock strength are the dominant controls.

This project aims to quantify the controls on and relative importance of bedrock incision processes in semi-alluvial rivers. This will be achieved through a focus on both the driving forces of the flow and sediment transport, and the strength and integrity of the bedrock. The main component of the research will be a field investigation into channel properties and erosive processes, which will be complemented by numerical modelling and laboratory experiments.

A number of field sites will be selected to cover a range of geology, channel morphology, flow conditions and sediment fluxes. These sites will include Trout Beck in the North Pennines, where monitoring is already on going. At each field location, rock properties (strength, structure, degree of weathering) will be quantified using a suite of field and laboratory tests, uniquely available at Durham. Channel and bedrock morphology and the extent of sediment cover will be recorded using Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS). A selection of the field sites will be monitored for flow, sediment flux, micro-seismics and bedrock incision over the course of the project. Analysis of the data will include:

  1. identifying topographic signatures of different erosion processes, their spatial distribution and bedrock structure;
  2. correlations between bedrock properties and extent of erosion;
  3. analysis of seismic data to quantify the magnitude and temporal signal of sediment transport and erosion processes.

Further analytical approaches could include:

  1. the use of flow modelling to predict spatial distributions flow properties and sediment transport,
  2. lab experiments designed to aid interpretation of the seismic data.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS Durham

Connecting soil-erosion risk from source to sink: an upscaling approach

Supervisors

Professor John Wainwright (Durham)

Dr Benjamin Marchant (British Geological Survey) (no staff profile)

Professor Michael Ellis(British Geological Survey)

Description

Soil-erosion risk is increasingly considered to be a significant problem in the UK. It has direct impacts in the areas where the initial loss of soil occurs on agricultural land both in terms of loss of productivity and in the increased work required to rectify problems. However, major impacts also occur as the mobilized sediment subsequently moves through the landscape. For example, drainage ditches can become blocked by fine sediment increasing the possibility of flooding; water courses and reservoirs can become turbid preventing their use as water supplies; and siltation of gravel beds prevents their use by species such as salmon for spawning and pearl mussels for habitat. In landscapes that are extensively and/or intensively cultivated such as throughout the UK, the use of pesticides and fertilizers that are transported either in solution or adsorbed onto the transported particles means that the effects are accentuated, both as direct pollution of water supplies and indirect effects such as eutrophication of watercourses. Thus, erosion has clear economic effects, with significant implications for food security, as well as a range of ecosystem service and health implications.

Up to present, the main methods for estimating erosion risk concentrate on identifying the sources of potential erosion, using models that have rarely if ever been developed or fully tested in a UK context. They have also been poorly developed in terms of addressing the pathways of sediment moving across the landscape, relying on discredited models of sediment-delivery ratios. The MAHLERAN model of was explicitly designed to work across a range of scales and to build in an explicit appreciation of the pathways that sediment moves. The subsequent development of a Marker-in-Cell version provides an explicit means of estimating the source, transport path and deposition of sediment on a particle-by-particle basis, and is thus ideally suited for the estimation of the full set of erosion risks. However, it does require a significant amount of local information that contrasts with the need to evaluate risk at the landscape, regional and national scales. This project aims to develop and test an upscaling methodology that will overcome these limitations and thus for the first time provide a fully integrated assessment of erosion risk.

The project will have three objectives in order to achieve this aim:

  1. To develop ways of upscaling soils information based on UK databases of soil, bedrock and land-use characteristics so that it can be used to parameterize key elements of the model including infiltration, surface roughness and particle size. A second strand of this work will relate to the upscaling of information relating to agricultural practice
  2. Application of MAHLERAN and MAHLERAN-MiC to example study areas in the UK with contrasting land uses. A limited amount of field experimentation will be carried out to test the parameterizations developed in 1, but for the most part the datasets used for testing will be derived from existing sources.
  3. The tested methods and model applications in 1 and 2 will be generalized and upscaled to be applied across larger areas. In the first instance, these applications will focus on multiple catchment scales for practical purposes, and will be evaluated on the ground using information from existing schemes, such as catchment-sensitive farming and the related network of officers.

Recommended reading

Cooper, JR, J Wainwright, AJ Parsons, Y Onda, T Fukuwara, E Obana, B Kitchener, EJ Long and GH Hargrave 2012 'A new approach for simulating the redistribution of soil particles by water erosion: a marker-in-cell model', Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface 117, F04027, doi:10.1029/2012JF002499

Kerry, R., Goovaerts, P., Rawlins, B. G. & Marchant, B. P. 2011. Disaggregation of legacy soil data using area to point kriging for mapping soil organic carbon at the regional scale. Geoderma, 170, 347-358.

Lark RM, Lapworth DJ 2013 ‘A novel quality measure for planning geochemical surveys of the soil by kriging’, Geoderma 197–198, 27–35.

Müller, EN, J Wainwright and AJ Parsons 2007 'The impact of connectivity on the modelling of water fluxes in semi-arid shrubland environments', Water Resources Research 43, W09412, doi:10.1029/2006WR005006.

Wainwright, J, AJ Parsons, EN Müller, RE Brazier, DM Powell and B Fenti 2008a 'A transport-distance approach to scaling erosion rates: 1. background and model development', Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 33, 813–826. DOI: 10.1002/esp.1624

Wainwright, J, AJ Parsons, EN Müller, RE Brazier, DM Powell and B Fenti 2008b 'A transport-distance approach to scaling erosion rates: 2. Sensitivity and evaluation of MAHLERAN', Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 33, 962–984. DOI: 10.1002/esp.1623

Wainwright, J, AJ Parsons, EN Müller, RE Brazier, DM Powell and B Fenti 2008c 'A transport-distance approach to scaling erosion rates: 3. Evaluating scaling characteristics of MAHLERAN', Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 33, 1113–1128, DOI: 10.1002/esp.1622

Zhang, X, NA Drake and J Wainwright 2002 'Scaling land-surface parameters for global scale soil-erosion estimation', Water Resources Research 38(10), 1180. Doi: 10.1029/2001WR000356.

Training

Durham’s Catchments and Rivers and Geohazards research clusters will provide a setting in which the student can be embedded within numerous researchers and students with cognate interests.

BGS has specialized training facilities for a wide range of relevant topics including modelling, geostatistics and advanced mapping approaches.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – Newcastle
Global change during the Jurassic, exploiting the UK borehole archive

Supervisors

Stephen Hesselbo (Exeter, Camborne School of Mines)

Kate Littler (Exeter, Camborne School of Mines)

Dan Condon (NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratories – British Geological Survey])

Jim Riding (British Geological Survey)

Conall MacNiocaill (Oxford)

Description

Over the last 50 years, a number of continuously cored boreholes have been drilled through thick Early Jurassic successions of the Wessex, Cleveland, Cardigan Bay and other UK basins. The cores from these boreholes have commonly yielded a detailed macrofossil and microfossil biostratigraphy, and the lithological succession and geophysical log characteristics are well known, but they have been subject only to limited additional analysis and study. Recent advances in stratigraphic techniques, notably hand-held X-ray flouresence (HH-XRF), cyclostratigraphy and palaeomagnetic analysis, offer the potential for these cores to be used as the basis for a highly-resolved integrated chronology of environmental change through the Early and Middle Jurassic. In this doctoral studentship project it is proposed to generate a high-resolution HH-XRF and Total Organic Carbon/carbon-isotope time series as the basis for cyclostratigraphic analysis for key intervals within the Early and Middle Jurassic. Additionally, pilot studies using the most sensitive instrumentation, have shown that cores previously thought to be devoid of a primary remnant magnetisation do still carry a weak signal that can be used for magnetostratigraphy.

A number of major environmental change events associated with perturbations to the carbon cycle have already been recognized from this interval, notably expressed as black shales in the Sinemurian and at the Sinemurian-Pliensbachian boundary, but their characteristics and durations are very poorly known. In both these two examples, the stratigraphic records of the events show some close similarities to the well-known palaeoenvironmental changes that took place at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary and during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event. Data generated for this project will be interpreted in the context of these larger perturbations to the Earth system and also used to test hypotheses that link palaeoenvironmental change to either long-periodicity orbital variations or large igneous province development.

Measurements on the cores will be carried out at the British Geological Survey in Keyworth where the cores are currently stored. In addition to a programme of non-destructive XRF and magnetic susceptibility measurement the student will take oriented core samples for analysis in the Oxford Palaeomagnetism Laboratory, and a series of smaller bulk rock and macrofossil samples for generation of a high-resolution chemostratigraphy using analytical facilities at Exeter.

Caption: Cores through classic Jurassic successions such as that seen at outcrop in Robin Hood’s Bay represent a hugely under-used treasury of geological data that can be applied to understand the history and processes of global environmental change through Mesozoic greenhouse times.

Recommended reading

Riding, J.B., Leng, M.J., Kender, S., Hesselbo, S.P., Feist-Burkhardt S., 2013, Isotopic and palynological evidence for a new Early Jurassic environmental perturbation. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 374, p. 16–27; Korte, C. & Hesselbo, S.P. 2011. Shallow-marine carbon- and oxygen-isotope and elemental records indicate icehouse-greenhouse cycles during the Early Jurassic. Paleoceanography v. 26, PA4219

Training

The student will join a new palaeoclimatology and palaeoceanography research group at CSM (Hesselbo, Littler, Bailey; Penryn Campus), and will interface with graduate students supervised by Belcher (co-supervised by Hesselbo) based at the Exeter (Stratham) campus palaeo-fire Laboratory.

The students will receive training in core logging, marine sedimentology, micropalaeontology, stable-isotope geochemistry and chemostratigraphy, and time series analysis. Training will also be provided in field techniques in sedimentology and stratigraphy. The training will take place the University of Exeter and at the British Geological Survey (BGS), Keyworth, Nottinghamshire.

Students are embedded within an environment of internationally outstanding research in the multidisciplinary College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences. All PhD students are encouraged to make connections across disciplines. Exeter has an interdisciplinary culture, nurtured by our Bridging the Gaps project which provides interdisciplinary events that PGR students as well as staff are encouraged to attend. Our strategic themes, such as Climate Change and Sustainable Futures, are also highly interdisciplinary in nature and of direct relevance to this project.

Exeter students benefit from best practice developed for the DTP/DTCs and the comprehensive generic and employability skills programme provided through the University’s Researcher Development Programme [http://tinyurl.com/of2pgff], which runs more than 360 events per year covering areas including networking, team building, interdisciplinary working, the impact agenda and open access and aspects of professional and career development.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Bristol: Solid earth and planetary geology

Antarctic Peninsula glacial discharge over the last 2000 years from the oxygen isotope composition of diatom silica

Supervisors

Dr Jenny Pike (Cardiff University)

Prof Melanie Leng (NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory-British Geological Survey/University Leicester)

Dr George Swann (University Nottingham)

Dr Claire Allen (British Antarctic Survey)

Dr Steve Barker (Cardiff University)

Description

Over the past few decades, there has been much deliberation over the role of the Antarctic ice sheet in global environmental changes such as eustatic sea level rise, and the spatial pattern of modern glacial discharge from Antarctica is currently not well understood, particularly in the climatically-sensitive region of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP). The AP accounts for 25% of the ice mass lost from regions of Antarctica that are currently losing ice mass, and 28% of the global contribution of mountain glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise – a pattern that reflects the recent rapid regional (RRR) warming of the AP that began around the mid-20th Century. There is a societal need to place the modern observations of RRR warming along the AP and the AP melt water contribution to global sea level into a longer temporal framework (e.g. the past 2000 years to compare late Holocene change regionally and globally). Recently we have shown, with the first seasonal- and decadal-scale records from the Antarctic margin, that diatom silica oxygen isotopes (δ18Odiatom) can be used as a palaeo-indicator of glacial discharge from the APIS marine-terminating glaciers and ice shelves during the Holocene. Further, we also showed that the combination of δ18Odiatom and diatom assemblages can be used to infer the balance between atmospheric (i.e. El Niño-Southern Oscillation) and oceanic forcing (i.e. upper circumpolar deepwater) of glacial discharge (Pike et al. 2013. Nature Geoscience 6, 199-202; Swann et al. 2013. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 364, 12-23). The research proposed here will utilise a suite of existing BAS sediment cores from the AP, and δ18Odiatom plus diatom assemblages, to develop records of glacial discharge and forcing (atmospheric vs. oceanic) over the past 2000 years in order to provide a context for modern observed changes. Is the RRR and dramatic retreat of tidewater glaciers along the AP over the past few decades an exceptional event, or are current patterns of change part of a longer-timescale, centennial-scale natural cycle in the climate of the Antarctic Peninsula region?

Training

The student will be trained in the preparation and analysis of diatom silica for oxygen isotopes. This training will be sourced from three institutions: Cardiff, NIGL-BGS and Nottingham University. The student will also be trained in Southern Ocean diatom taxonomy and quantitative abundance analysis, which will take place in Cardiff and BAS. The student will access the NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory facilities for diatom silica oxygen isotope analyses and will collaborate in the preparation of an application for analytical funding to the NIGFSC.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Cardiff

Contact details

Dr Jennifer Pike

This project is eligible for funding through the

NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership

Alternatively, this project is eligible for support from Cardiff University through the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences.

To apply, please visit the Cardiff University Postgraduate Research portal

Understanding global teleconnections between ocean and the atmosphere over the transition from the last glacial maximum (˜25 ka) to the present in the Southern Ocean

Supervisors

Professor Melanie Leng (British Geological Survey)

Dr Sev Kender (University of Leicester)

Dr Vicky Peck, Dr Claire Allen (British Antarctic Survey)

Dr Ali Graham (University of Exeter)

Dr Gerhard Kuhn (Alfred Wegener Institute)

Description

Developing a better understanding of how the Southern Ocean evolved during the transition from the last glacial maximum (˜25 ka) to the present is critical for assessing climatic sensitivity (Anderson et al., 2009), and placing recent environmental changes within a historical context (Pritchard et al., 2012). For instance South Georgia is one the most rapidly warming regions in the world (Whitehouse et al. 2008). This project has two broad goals: to understand variations in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) since the last glacial; and to decipher the nature and timing of the South Georgia ice sheet retreat within the same time interval. The ACC is a major uninterrupted water mass that encircles Antarctica, and brings CO2 and nutrient‐rich warm deep water to the surface. Recent studies indicate that the ACC may have been a major source of atmospheric CO2 during the de‐glacial, and studies from the Falkland Plateau and the Antarctic Peninsula show that major changes to the climate of the Southern Ocean occurred during the Holocene. However, there is still no consensus on how the Southern Ocean evolved since the last glacial, largely due to a lack of well‐preserved sedimentary records. One important region is South Georgia, which sits in the path of the ACC and within proximity to the modern southern ACC front (SACCF). Tracking changes to this frontal position through time will be important for understanding changes in wind strength (the Southern Westerly Winds) and ACC extent. South Georgia had an extensive ice sheet probably to the outer shelf during the last glacial (Graham et al. 2008), and understanding the nature and timing of its retreat should aid in our understanding of the potential coupling between ice sheets and surrounding water mass properties.

Aims and Objectives

This project aims to reconstruct the palaeoceanography of the South Georgia region since the last glacial maximum, by generating geochemical and micropalaeontological climate proxy records from unique sediment cores recently collected on the shelf and in Cumberland Bay.

The shelf site should contain a unique record of oceanic conditions since the last glacial (sea ice, productivity, bottom water temperature/oxygen), and the inner bay sites should contain a unique record of glacial retreat related to onset of marine sedimentation (including marine microfossils) and changing salinity from ice melt.

The goals of this project will be to:

  1. Assess changes in the upwelling and nature of the ACC, via monitoring local movements in the proximal SACCF, and related changes in local productivity and sea ice.
  2. Assess how these changes related to the timing and rate of South Georgia ice sheet decay.

The results of this study will be important for understanding

  1. The role and sensitivity of Southern Ocean circulation in global climate change (via CO2) since the last glacial maximum
  2. Southern Ocean ice sheet and sea ice dynamics,
  3. Sensitivity of South Georgia nutrient upwelling and the marine ecosystem, a region that currently supports large Antarctic krill and fish stocks and is a biodiversity 'hot‐spot' (Hogg et al. 2011).

Recommended reading

Anderson, R.F. et al. (2009) Wind‐driven upwelling in the Southern Ocean and the deglacial rise in atmospheric CO2. Science, 323, 1443‐1448.

Graham, A.G.C. et al. (2008) A new bathymetric compilation highlighting extensive paleo–ice sheet drainage on the continental shelf, South Georgia, sub‐Antarctica. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 9, 7, Q07011.

Hogg, O.T., Barnes, D.K.A. and Griffiths, H.J. (2011) Highly Diverse, Poorly Studied and Uniquely Threatened by Climate Change: An Assessment of Marine Biodiversity on South Georgia's Continental Shelf. PLoS ONE 6(5), e19795.

Pritchard, H.D. et al. (2012) Antarctic ice‐sheet loss driven by basal melting of ice shelves: Nature, 484, 502‐505.

Whitehouse, M.J. et al. (2008) Rapid warming of the ocean around South Georgia, Southern Ocean, during the 20th Century: Forcings, characteristics and implications for lower tropic levels. Deep‐Sea Research I, 55, 1218–1228.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Birmingham

Coupled human–coastal systems: comparative analysis of developed islands

Supervisors

Dr Eli Lazarus (Cardiff)

Dr Michael Ellis (British Geological Survey)

Dr Rhoda Ballinger (Cardiff)

Description

Along developed coastlines around the world, future hazards are expected to intensify with consequences of climate change. The presence of valuable infrastructure further exacerbates the risk of expensive damage from hazard events. By design, coastal hazard mitigation (e.g., seawalls, beach nourishment, artificial dunes) buffers human activities against the variability of natural phenomena such as storms. But hazard mitigation also sets up feedbacks between human and natural dynamics. This project will examine four principal island groups across the globe as coupled human–coastal systems: the British Isles, the Channel Islands, the Canary Islands, and the Maldives. Drawing on socioeconomic data, archival records, historical maps and aerial imagery, sea-level rise projections, numerical modelling results, and groundtruthing site visits, this project will produce novel quantitative maps showing the estimated strength of coupling between human and natural coastal dynamics in each of these island locales. Small islands are especially interesting and accessible geographic units for case study because their governance (and its challenges) can reflect microcosmic versions of larger management systems. Even on a small island, hazard, risk exposure, and management responses are not necessarily uniform around its coastline. This project will build a vital body of empirical evidence to complement recent advances in coupled human–environmental systems theory.

Background reading

Werner, B. T., and McNamara, D. E. (2007), Dynamics of coupled human–landscape systems, Geomorphology, 91, 393–407.

Training

This project integrates with ongoing work by the NERC Coastal Sediment Systems research programme, which involves an international consortium of academic, public, and private-sector partners. Opportunities for the PhD student will include regular collaborative meetings with members of the BGS Climate and Landscape Change Programme, and participation in skills-based training workshops that will connect students, researchers, and expert practitioners from around the UK.

Contact details

Dr Eli Lazarus

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Cardiff

This project is eligible for funding through the NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership

Alternatively, this project is eligible for support from Cardiff University through the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences.

To apply, please visit the Cardiff University Postgraduate Research portal

Atoll geomorphology and morphodynamics of the Sugud Islands, Malaysia

Supervisors

Dr Eli Lazarus (Cardiff)

Dr Jose Constantine (Cardiff)

Dr Michael Ellis (British Geological Survey)

Description

This project will develop an exciting new research partnership between Cardiff University, the Sabah Wildlife Department (Malaysia), and Reef Guardian, a private non-profit marine-conservation organisation. In 2001, the state government of Sabah declared three offshore islands (Lankayan, Billean, and Tegaipil) and over 46,000 ha of surrounding shallow reef as the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA), protected under IUCN Category II. The geomorphologic history of these islands is as yet unstudied. Records of soil development, sedimentary accretion rates, and major storm events will be produced from sediment cores and detailed stratigraphic analysis. Numerical modelling of fringing-reef development will help constrain time scales of island evolution and lend insight into how this archipelago may change under future sea-level rise conditions. This project, which will represent the first comprehensive geomorphic survey and investigation of the Sugud Islands, will contribute fundamental data to the growing body of research on atoll processes, evolution, and sustainability. Moreover, the project will generate essential baseline information of immediate value to those responsible for SIMCA's management and conservation. Logistical aspects of the project will be conducted in partnership with Reef Guardian; sedimentary records will have permanent storage at the BGS National Data Centre.

Background reading

Webb, A. P., and Kench, P. S. (2010), The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the Central Pacific, Global and Planetary Change, 72, 234–246.

Training

Opportunities for the PhD student will include regular collaborative meetings with members of the BGS Climate and Landscape Change Programme; participation in skills-based training workshops that will connect students, researchers, and expert practitioners from around the UK; and field-based, technical training using Cardiff University's terrestrial laser scanner.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Cardiff Supervisors

Contact details

Dr Eli Lazarus

This project is eligible for funding through the NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership

Alternatively, this project is eligible for support from Cardiff University through the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences.

To apply, please visit the Cardiff University Postgraduate Research portal

Constraining the marine environment of the Cambrian metazoan adaptive radiation

Description

The Cambrian record preserves the first traces of complex ecosystems populated by arthropods, brachiopods and a range of scleritome-bearing animals, the latter often known only from the 'small shelly fossil' fragments of their post-mortem dissociated skeletons. Although the record of Cambrian life has been described in detail from numerous exceptionally preserved fossil assemblages, the marine environment in which these organisms lived remains poorly constrained. Recent advances using the oxygen isotope composition of ancient calcium phosphate skeletons now present a real chance to examine the environment of Cambrian seas, and to discriminate the environments occupied by a range of different organism groups. This project focuses on the Cambrian of England, a classical area in the study of early Cambrian faunas1. The Cambrian succession of England yields diverse and biostratigraphically important assemblages of ‘small shelly fossils’ and brachiopods from sedimentary deposits that are between ca 528 and 510 million years old2, the ages calibrated by radiometric dates from several bentonite horizons, and correlated with Cambrian successions worldwide by means of trilobites and other fauna3. Both the small shelly fossils and brachiopods have phosphate skeletons and pilot analyses (brachiopods and Rhombocorniculum) from the Comley Limestone of Shropshire have yielded oxygen isotope values within the range determined from Early Ordovician conodont skeletons. The project will use the small shelly fossils and brachiopods to reconstruct a sea temperature record for the earlier Cambrian.

Recommended reading

Siveter DJ, Williams M, Waloszek D. 2001. A phosphatocopid crustacean from the lower Cambrian of England. Science, 293, 479-481.

Rushton AWA, Bruck P, Molyneux SG, Williams M, Woodcock NH. 2011. A revised correlation of the Cambrian rocks in the British Isles. Geological Society of London Special Report, No. 25.

Harvey T, Williams M, Condon D, Wilby P, Siveter D, Rushton A, Leng M, Gabbott S. 2011. A refined chronology for the Cambrian succession of southern Britain. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 168, 705-716.

Training

At the advanced guard of scientists developing the stable isotopic analysis of Cambrian biogenic phosphates for environmental data, and will work closely with scientists at the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (where Prof. Leng is the head of the stable isotope laboratories) to develop the method. You will become proficient in scanning electron microscope analysis of fossil materials to determine preservation of primary phosphate. You will become proficient in the identification and characterisation of a range of different Cambrian animals, and will become an accomplished Cambrian palaeobiologist.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Leicester

Supervisors

Phil Wilby (British Geological Survey)

Mark Williams (Leicester)

Melanie Leng (NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratories -British Geological Survey)

Understanding the contribution of particulate organic carbon to greenhouse gas fluxes from rivers

Supervisors

Prof Fred Worrall (University of Durham)

Barry Rawlins (British Geological Survey)

Description

The fluvial losses of carbon from a freshwater channel - dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) - can represent more than 50% of the carbon exchange from its drainage catchment. These fluvial fluxes of carbon have not been included in greenhouse gas budget assessments made by such organisations as the Inter-governmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) because the fate of fluvial carbon is not known, i.e. how much of the DOC or POC is lost as gaseous CO2 or CH4 from rivers? A range of recent studies (references) from the UK have shown that up to 75% of channel DOC flux is converted into greenhouse gases which are lost from the stream surface, but we do not know the relative contribution of particulate organic matter to this flux.

Many studies have considered suspended sediments and some of these have measured its budget and fate throughout UK catchments, but none of these has considered the turnover of particular organic matter and its loss to the atmosphere as greenhouse gases. The flux of suspended sediments from the UK peaked at 27000 ktonnes/yr. If we assume 15% of this is organic carbon (30% organic matter) and 20% of this carbon is released as CO2 then the flux of suspended sediment from the UK represents a substantial unaccounted for flux of greenhouse gas equivalent to 2% of total UK emissions. In addition to CO2 and CH4, particulate organic matter will also be a source of N2O a more powerful greenhouse gas. Furthermore, the present consensus that the processes of soil erosion and sedimentation result in net carbon storage (reference) assumes there is no turnover of carbon in the river network.; if this assumption is flawed this potential net sink of greenhouses gases may actually represent a net source.

Aims and objectives: The project will seek to quantify and understand the fate of particulate organic matter, more specifially its transformation to greenhouse gases. The project will:

  • Measure the turnover rate of particulate organic matter in river waters;
  • Understand the transformation of POC into CO2, CH4 and N2O;
  • Fingerprint the composition of particulate organic matter through catchments and into sediment stores;
  • Develop methods for the inclusion of POC transformation and loss to the atmosphere into present carbon and greenhouse gas models.

The project will combine laboratory and field approaches. In the field the project will utilise a range of field sites already instrumented and being studied by the supervisors as part of an extensive research programme into the carbon and greenhouse gas budget of soil, in particular the study would consider both peat and mineral soil dominated catchments. The laboratory studies will consider incubations of both POC under a range of conditions and examine the compositional change so as to calibrate observations of compositional change through a catchment.

Recommended reading

Worrall, F., M.Reed, J.Warburton and T.P.Burt. 2003. Carbon budget for a British upland peat catchment. Science of the Total Environment 312, 133-146.

Worrall, F., Burt, T.P., and J.Adamson. 2006. The rate of and controls upon DOC loss in a peat catchment. Jour. Hydrol. 321, 311-325.

Worrall, F., T.Guilbert and T.P. Burt. 2007. The Flux of Carbon from rivers: the missing flux in terrestrial carbon budgets. Biogeochemistry, 86, 1.

Worrall, F., Davies, H., Burt, TP., Howden, NJK., Whelan, MJ., Bhogal, A., and A.Lilly. (2012). The flux of dissolved nitrogen from the UK – predicting the role of soils and land use. Science of the Total Environment 434, 90-100.

Moody, C.S., Worrall, F., Evans, C.D., T.Jones. The rate of loss of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) through a catchment. Jour. Hydrol. 492,139-150.

Worrall, F., Burt, TP., and NJK Howden. The flux of suspended sediment from the UK 1974 to 2010. Jour. Hydrol. (in press).

Rawlins, B. G., Palumbo-Roe, B., Gooddy, D. C., Worrall, F. & Smith, H. 2013. A model of potential carbon dioxide efflux from surface water across England and Wales using headwater stream survey data and landscape predictors. Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 16453-16490.

Vane, C. H., Rawlins, B. G., Kim, A. W., Moss-Hayes, V., Kendrick, C. P. & Leng, M. J. 2013. Sedimentary transport and fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from managed burning of moorland vegetation on a blanket peat, South Yorkshire, UK. Science of the Total Environment, 449, 81-94.

Training

This project will involve a set of laboratory based microcosm experiments utilising a combination of bed sediment and suspended sediment collected from river channels spanning upland to lowland settings in temperate climate of the UK. Training will be provided in a range of organic geochemistry analytical techniques including pyrolysis (RockEval), NMR spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analyses and FTIR spectrometry. Training will also be provided in modelling approaches for organic matter turnover – model building, parameterisation and propagation of uncertainty.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – Durham

Contact

Prof Worrall

Atoll geomorphology and morphodynamics of the Sugud Islands, Malaysia

Supervisors

Dr Eli Lazarus (primary, Cardiff University)

Dr Jose Constantine (secondary, Cardiff University)

Dr TC Hales (secondary, Cardiff University)

Dr Michael Ellis (secondary, British Geological Survey)

Description

This project will develop an exciting new research partnership between Cardiff University, the Sabah Wildlife Department (Malaysia), and Reef Guardian, a private non-profit marine-conservation organisation. In 2001, the state government of Sabah declared three offshore islands (Lankayan, Billean, and Tegaipil) and over 46,000 ha of surrounding shallow reef as the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA), protected under IUCN Category II. The geomorphologic history of these islands is as yet unstudied. Records of soil development, sedimentary accretion rates, and major storm events will be produced from sediment cores and detailed stratigraphic analysis. Numerical modelling of fringing-reef development will help constrain time scales of island evolution and lend insight into how this archipelago may change under future sea-level rise conditions. This project, which will represent the first comprehensive geomorphic survey and investigation of the Sugud Islands, will contribute fundamental data to the growing body of research on atoll processes, evolution, and sustainability. Moreover, the project will generate essential baseline information of immediate value to those responsible for SIMCA's management and conservation. Logistical aspects of the project will be conducted in partnership with Reef Guardian; sedimentary records will have permanent storage at the BGS National Data Centre.

Recommended reading

Webb, A. P., and Kench, P. S. (2010), The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the Central Pacific, Global and Planetary Change, 72, 234–246.

Training

Opportunities for the PhD student will include regular collaborative meetings with members of the BGS Climate & Landscape Change Programme; participation in skills-based training workshops that will connect students, researchers, and expert practitioners from around the UK; and field-based, technical training using Cardiff University's terrestrial laser scanner.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Cardiff

Reconstruction of an Eemian landscape in Southern Spain: a palaeo-environmental and geomorphological perspective

Supervisors

Liam Reinhardt (University of Exeter)

Michael Ellis (British Geological Survey)

Description

The aim of this CASE studentship proposal is to develop a study that enables comparison between Holocene climate and environmental response (landscape dynamics) to those that operated during the last interstadial (Eemian: 116-130 Ka) when global temperatures were 1.5 ° warmer than present. We focus on the Padul peat bog (near Granada, S. Spain) because it preserves a high-resolution record of palaeo-environmental conditions during the past 1 Myr (based on a 107m peat core) and lies within a landscape that has been well characterised by previous geomorphic studies. Our reconstructed terrestrial record will be linked to other European sites and the Iberian marginal marine record enabling us to link regional to global climate and environmental conditions. All results will be contextualised through comparison with historical GCM runs developed in cooperation between the BGS and the MET Office. Our intent is that BGS will use these comparisons to inform further GCM development.

The methodology focuses on the reconstruction of climate and landscape dynamics during periods of rapid change at the beginning, during and the end of the Eemian. By focusing on periods of rapid change we specifically identify periods of time most useful in testing GCM sensitivity to perturbations in a warmer world. There is a strong need for such tests as it is now apparent that the current generation of GCMs are remarkably insensitive to perturbations: basing GCM parameters on 20th Century conditions has unintentionally created models that are too stable. Pollen analysis will form the primary method for climate reconstruction. Our Spanish project partner José Eugenio Ortiz (Laboratory of Biomolecular Stratigraphy, E.T.S.I. Minas de Madrid) has recently developed a pollen record of the entire 107 m core. We will use these data combined with new higher resolution pollen samples at points of interest that the student will collect, to reconstruct the Eemian climate. Furthermore, The pattern and timing of Eemian erosion will be reconstructed using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of alluvia fans and 10Be erosion rate estimation from sand layers buried in the Padul bog (requiring a fieldtrip to collect new material from a location where such layers are known to be present). These results will then be related to historical GCM model runs developed in cooperation between the BGS and the MET Office.

Training

One of the strengths of this proposal is the training the student would receive in a wide range of techniques, ranging from pollen analysis (from both Dr. Richard Jones a senior lecturer at Exeter who would collaborate this project and José Eugenio Ortiz a Spanish based collaborator), to the preparation and interpretation of OSL and cosmogenic 10Be samples with the PI. Crucially the student would also receive additional Training when he/she spends 6-months based at the BGS facility under the direction of Michael Ellis, the Head of Climate Change Science. There the student will learn how to relate palaeo-environmental data to GCM model outputengage with GCM development. This is a key strength of our CASE proposal and Mikes group is uniquely qualified for this task.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Exeter

Coupled human-coastal systems: comparative analysis of developed islands

Supervisors

Dr Eli Lazarus (Cardiff University)

Dr Michael Ellis (British Geological Survey)

Dr Rhoda Ballinger (Cardiff University)

Description

Along developed coastlines around the world, future hazards are expected to intensify with consequences of climate change. The presence of valuable infrastructure further exacerbates the risk of expensive damage from hazard events. By design, coastal hazard mitigation (e.g., seawalls, beach nourishment, artificial dunes) buffers human activities against the variability of natural phenomena such as storms. But hazard mitigation also sets up feedbacks between human and natural dynamics. This project will examine four principal island groups across the globe as coupled human–coastal systems: the British Isles, the Channel Islands, the Canary Islands, and the Maldives. Drawing on socioeconomic data, archival records, historical maps and aerial imagery, sea-level rise projections, numerical modelling results, and groundtruthing site visits, this project will produce novel quantitative maps showing the estimated strength of coupling between human and natural coastal dynamics in each of these island locales. Small islands are especially interesting and accessible geographic units for case study because their governance (and its challenges) can reflect microcosmic versions of larger management systems. Even on a small island, hazard, risk exposure, and management responses are not necessarily uniform around its coastline. This project will build a vital body of empirical evidence to complement recent advances in coupled human–environmental systems theory.

Recommended reading

Werner, B. T., and McNamara, D. E. (2007), Dynamics of coupled human–landscape systems, Geomorphology, 91, 393–407.

Training

This project integrates with ongoing work by the NERC Coastal Sediment Systems research programme, which involves an international consortium of academic, public, and private-sector partners. Opportunities for the PhD student will include regular collaborative meetings with members of the BGS Climate & Landscape Change Programme, and participation in skills-based training workshops that will connect students, researchers, and expert practitioners from around the UK.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ -Cardiff

Understanding Bering Sea millennial-scale oceanographic controls on the Milankovitch orbital cycle climatic shift during the middle Pleistocene*

Supervisors

Dr Sev Kender (University of Leicester)

Prof Melanie Leng (British Geological Survey)

Prof Sarah Davies (University of Leicester)

Prof Ian Hall (Cardiff University)

Dr Sindia Sosdian (Cardiff University)

Dr James Riding (British Geological Survey)

*CASE Award with BGS

Background

The transition of Earth’s glacial-interglacial cycles from 40 kyr to 100 kyr periodicity during the middle Pleistocene (the Mid-Pleistocene Transition, MPT, ~1.2–0.6 Ma) marks one of the largest climate events of the Cenozoic, but the causes of this cooling transition remain unclear (Clark et al. 2006). This is because the emergence of the 100 kyr Milankovitch orbital ‘eccentricity’ in climate records within the MPT occurred without a long term change in external orbital forcing. Hypotheses for this transition have so far remained largely untested due to a lack of detailed, high resolution climate proxy information from critical regions on the planet (Raymo & Huybers 2008). Two of the major hypotheses infer changes to North American Ice Sheet (NAIS) dynamics and northern hemisphere sea ice, for which the subarctic N. Pacific (and in particular the Bering Sea) is a critical and largely un-sampled region.

A leading explanation for the MPT proposes that it coincided with the complete erosion of soft sedimentary regolith covering N. America, allowing ice sheets to become grounded on crystalline basement (Clark et al. 2006). Ice sheets were subsequently able to grow thicker and survive obliquity and precession related summer insolation maxima, but eventually deglaciated due to basal pressure-melting in the latter stages of glacials. Recent proxy records have identified a critical juncture in the MPT, of enhanced ice sheet growth and glacial lengthening at Marine Isotope Stage 22, as the so-called ‘900-kyr event’ (Elderfield et al. 2012). But there still remain a lack of proxy records of NAIS instabilities in the form of prominent marine ice-rafted debris (IRD) horizons. Several other mechanisms have been proposed to explain the MPT. These include (a) an early expansion of subpolar sea ice possibly driven by deep ocean cooling, and (b) decreasing CO2. However, high resolution MPT CO2 and sea ice proxies remain unavailable.

Aims and objectives

The student will develop the first MPT climate proxy records of ice sheet instability (IRD) and sea surface conditions (sea ice and other parameters) from pristine Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Bering Sea cores (see Takahashi et al. 2011) in order to test these various hypotheses with the following objectives:

  1. Uncover the history of NAIS growth and instability over the MPT, by generating a millennial-scale IRD record and benthic foraminiferal δ18O stratigraphy, to test the changing relationship between glaciations and NAIS instability.
  2. Uncover the history of Bering Sea sea-ice, sea surface temperature, productivity and salinity over the MPT, by generating an orbital-scale microfossil assemblage record, and millennial-scale organic matter δ13C record (including TOC and C/N ratio) to constrain surface water nutrients, productivity and surface water CO2 changes.

Methods and project specific training

The student will have access to state-of-the-art laboratory facilities at Leicester, the BGS and NIGL, and will obtain training in isotope geochemistry, marine micropalaeontology, sediment geochemistry, IRD petrography, and time-series analysis.

References

Clark PU et al. 2006. Quaternary Science Reviews 25, 3150-3184; Elderfield H et al. 2012. Science 337, 704-709; Raymo ME, Huybers P 2008. Nature 451, 284-285 ; Takahashi K. and the Expedition 323 Scientists 2011. Proc. IODP 323, doi:10.2204/iodp.proc.323.101.2011

About the supervisors

The student will join a dynamic and successful research group. Dr Kender is an active early-career researcher with specific interest in palaeoceanography and micropalaeontology. He sailed on the IODP Bering Sea expedition in 2009, and has extensive knowledge of this area. Prof Leng is an experienced palaeoclimatologist and is head of the stable isotope laboratory at NIGL. Prof Davies is an experienced clastic sedimentologist, Dr Riding is an experienced palynologist, and Prof Hall and Dr Sosdian are experienced palaeoceanographers.

Applicants

Applicants must have a BSc (first or upper second class) or M-level degree in geoscience.

Contact

Dr Sev Kender (University of Leicester)

Prof Melanie Leng (British Geological Survey)

Earth Hazards & Observatories
Magnetic imaging of the Earth’s core: Re-evaluating "Earth-like" geodynamo models

Supervisors

Jonathan Mound (Leeds)

Ciaran Beggan (British Geological Survey)

Description

Progress in understanding the dynamics of the Earth’s core has progressed on two fronts: direct numerical simulations of approximations to the governing equations, and inferences draw from observations of the structure and evolution of the magnetic field. Numerical simulations have successfully reproduced some aspects of the observed field, but challenges remain in producing an “Earth-like” model of the field, and indeed in defining precisely what “Earth-like” means. Continued compilation of magnetic data, from satellite missions measuring the present field and from archaeomagnetic and palaeomagnetic investigations that improve our understanding of the ancient field suggest new standards of "Earth-like" behaviour against which to test the success of the simulations. This project will sit within the Deep Earth research group and run in collaboration with the BGS. The student will begin by using the existing suite of numerical simulations produced by the Deep Earth group in Leeds to new constraints on "Earth-like" behaviour developed in collaboration with BGS. These comparisons will be used to investigate whether existing ideas on the appropriate boundary conditions (e.g. thermal control by mantle heterogeneity) and parameter regimes of numerical models can reproduce the complex spatial and temporal behaviour of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Aims and objectives: In this project the student will first work to develop new statistical measures that characterise the Earth’s magnetic field and its secular variation. The student will then apply these measures to an existing suite of numerical geodynamo outputs previously produced at the University of Leeds in order to re-evaluate whether current models produce Earth-like fields. Insight from these investigations will direct the production of new model runs in order to more fully explore the required ingredients for a numerical model of the geodynamo process to exhibit Earth-like behaviour.

Recommended reading

A three-dimensional self-consistent computer simulation of a geomagnetic field reversal, Glatzmaier, G. & Roberts, P., Nature, 377, 203-209, 1995.

Spectral and spatial decomposition of lithospheric magnetic field models using spherical Slepian functions, C.D. Beggan, J. Saarimäki, K.A. Whaler, F.J. Simons, Geophys. J. Int, 193, 136-148, 2013.

Training

Methods and project specific training: The student will learn both the theory and computational techniques required to model the Earth’s core. Training in programming and running code on massively parallel supercomputers will be given. The student will be a part of the deep Earth research group, a vibrant part of the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, currently comprising 4 staff members, 3 postdocs and 5 PhD students. The group has strong links to the School of Mathematics, and many current national and international collaborators. Although the project will be based at Leeds, the student will work with Ciaran Beggan of the BGS on the development of Earth-like statistical measures derived from observational constraints using Slepian functions.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

SPHERES - Leeds

The hidden hazard of melting ground-ice in Northern Iceland

Supervisors

Dr. Matthew Balme (Open University)

Dr. Susan Conway (Loughborough)

Dr John Hillier (Loughborough)

Colm Jordan (British Geological Survey)

Description

The melting of glaciers as a result of recent climate change can be easily recognised, and associated hazards (e.g., landslides; Allen et al. 2009) identified, even if only qualitatively from visual inspection. However, the melting of shallow ground-ice in mountainous areas with discontinuous permafrost is a 'hidden hazard': without detailed inspection these regions appear to be unthreatening moraine material or talus slopes. This hidden hazard was revealed in September 2012 in northern Iceland when ˜500 000m3 of debris was mobilised by a catastrophic failure of perched ice-rich sediments on Móafellshyrna Mountain. Fortunately the slide’s runout zone was uninhabited, but other sites in Iceland where such a failure could occur include inhabited areas. To understand the hazard, the Móafellshyrna slide must be better understood and other vulnerable areas studied. Two towns with a similar configuration have been identified and will form the starting point for the field investigations and the project benefits from collaborators including Þorsteinn Sæmundsson (NNV Iceland), Jón Kristinn Helgason (Veðurstofa Íslands) and Halldór G. Pétursson (Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands).

The main objectives of this project are:

  1. To study the geomorphology, setting and ice-distribution of Móafellshyrna, using digital elevation models and geophysical techniques (Ground Penetrating Radar or Electrical Tomography; Vonder M¨hll et al. 2002).
  2. Compare andörður, Seydisfjörður and Ísafjörður regions to the Móafellshyrna slide to estimate the likelihood of this style of failure at these locations.
  3. Predict ground ice content in other at-risk zones using a topo-climatic model (Janke, 2005; Boeckli et al. 2011), pending an application to NERC ARSF.
  4. Use empirical models (cf. Conway et al. 2010) to determine the risk to local populations.

The outcomes of this project will feed directly into hazard planning in Iceland, giving the student a unique opportunity to make a real impact on policy and decision making at governmental level. This project would be suited to a student already familiar with geophysical field techniques and/or remote sensing, but any numerate student with a geoscience degree and an enthusiasm for fieldwork is encouraged to apply. The Department has a thriving postgraduate community and the postgraduate training programme provides a full range of courses covering: research techniques, scientific methods, information technology, communication and interpersonal skills. The student will receive specific training in GIS, remote sensing and field geophysical techniques.

Recommended reading

[1] Allen, S.K., et al. 2009. First approaches towards modelling glacial hazards in the Mount Cook region of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 9, 481–499.

[2] Boeckli, L., et al., 2012. A statistical approach to modelling permafrost distribution in the European Alps or similar mountain ranges. The Cryosphere 6, 125–140.

[3] Conway, S.J., et al., 2010. A new Approach to Estimating Hazard posed by Debris

Flows in the Westfjords of Iceland. Geomorphology 114, 556–572. [4] Janke, J.R., 2013. Using airborne LiDAR and USGS DEM data for assessing rock glaciers and glaciers. Geomorphology 195, 118–130. [5] Vonder Mühll, D., et al., 2002. Mapping of mountain permafrost using geophysical methods. Prog. Phys. Geog. 26, 643–660.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA - Open University

Contact

Dr. Matthew Balme (Open University)

Tidal deformation and solid Earth rheological parameters from GPS/GLONASS geodesy

Supervisors

Nigel Penna (Newcastle)

Graham Appleby (British Geological Survey)

Description

The inner Earth's physical behaviour is expected to be frequency-dependent, and is well studied at seismic frequencies (periods of seconds to minutes) using the travel times of vibrations transmitted by earthquakes, and by studying changes in the Earth’s rotation known as the Chandler wobble (which has a period of ~14 months). However, it is less well observed at intermediate periods such as those of the tides (~12 hours to 1 year, although small longer-period tides also occur). Recent developments in the measurement of the Earth’s shape using GPS satellites allow us to measure tidal movements of the solid Earth with high precision. The International GNSS Service maintains a freely-available archive of data from a steadily growing number of global observatories, in some cases going back to the early 1990s. This archive has now reached sufficient duration and spatial coverage to allow a reliable global study using GNSS, in a way not possible with previous satellite or astronomical techniques. By selecting sites where the ocean tide loading (OTL) is small and so the solid Earth tide can be isolated, or where the ocean tide is well modelled and so any discrepancy between modelled and observed OTL can be attributed to the Earth model, this project will use GNSS observations to infer the degree of anelastic behaviour of the solid Earth at tidal timescales.

More recently, in the last decade, many of these sites, including Herstmonceux where the OTL is small, have begun to collect GLONASS data in addition to GPS, and the new European 'Galileo' constellation will provide usable data within the next few years. GLONASS and Galileo have several advantages over GPS, the most significant of which is that, unlike GPS, the satellites’ orbital periods are not aligned to the rotation rate of the Earth. Thus, it should be possible to use GLONASS and Galileo data to observe tidal displacements at the K1 and K2 tidal periods, which for GPS are masked by uncertainties in the satellite orbit and clock modelling. However, this approach has not yet been demonstrated, largely because of the lack of true multi-GNSS software and satellite orbits/clocks to allow individual sites to be analysed via precise point positioning in kinematic mode. A major aim of this project will be to use the readily-modifiable Newcastle in-house 'pppncl' kinematic software, which already uses GPS and GLONASS in tandem, to achieve this. The K1 period is particularly interesting because it is close to the period of free nutation of the Earth’s inner core, and so a significant departure from elastic behaviour is expected (and has indeed been demonstrated using other space geodetic techniques although at a very limited number of sites).

Another geodetic technique capable of observing tidal deformation is the use of absolute gravity measurements at the Earth’s surface. This highly sensitive technique is only carried out regularly at a few sites worldwide, including at Herstmonceux – which is one of the ‘few amongst the few’ at which both GPS and GLONASS data have also been collected since an early stage. Absolute gravimetry can be used to validate GNSS measurements of tidal displacements, providing the direct gravitational attraction of the ocean tide can be eliminated from the analysis. Under the direction of Appleby, this project will use absolute gravity data collected and analysed at Herstmonceux and other global sites to test the processing strategies applied to the GNSS data.

Aims and objectives

The student will spend the first 6 months of the project learning the necessary geodesy and geophysics concepts, as well as the use of pppncl on the University’s powerful Linux cluster. The student will then be able to use a robust and well-tested geodetic technique to investigate the assumptions of anelasticity. This work will continue for 12-18 months, including the analysis of absolute gravity data where these are available to validate the GNSS observations (by means of collaborative visits to Herstmonceux, funded via Ordinary CASE sponsorship). 6-12 months will then be spent on geophysical inverse modelling of the geodetic observations, leading to a substantive journal publication. The final 6 months of the student’s time during the project will be occupied with thesis writing.

Training

Methods and project specific training: The student will gain valuable skills in geodesy, high-throughput computing, geophysical modelling, and the management of large datasets. On completion, they will be well suited to a range of careers in academia or industry.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – Newcastle

Physicochemical factors controlling the toxicity of volcanic PM10 in relation to proximal and distal exposures

Supervisors

Dr Claire Horwell (Durham University)

Dr Susan Loughlin (British Geological Survey)

Dr Christine Braban, (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)

Prof Vicki Stone (Heriot Watt)

Description

Can inhalation of volcanic ash cause respiratory disease? This critical question is at the very heart of public health decision making during every volcanic crisis. We know that ash inhalation can trigger asthma and bronchitis in susceptible people but we do not yet understand what factors control this response. Furthermore, we still do not know whether chronic exposure can cause incapacitating or fatal lung diseases. Following the 2010/11 Icelandic eruptions, European governments are planning for future population exposures to volcanic ash and need to address whether and how volcanic ash causes disease, and how to rapidly assess this during a crisis.

Ash toxicity is likely controlled by formation mechanisms (fragmentation, fractionation, composition), atmospheric interactions and exposure pathways. This project addresses a critical aspect of exposure: where does the danger lie? Until recently, natural mineral particles (NMP), including volcanic ash, were regarded as having low toxicity unless they contained substantial fractions of crystalline silica or fibres. The 2013 World Health Organisation (WHO) meta-analysis of air pollution studies concluded, however, that all particulate matter (PM) sub-10 µm diameter (PM10) may affect respiratory and cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, and PM has also just been classed as a lung carcinogen1-2. It is recognised, however, that different fractions within PM10 (PM0.1, PM0.1-2.5 and PM2.5-10) may play different roles in disease development.

Volcanic ash includes grains from the ‘nano’ fraction (PM0.1, Figure 1) through to coarse particles, and can contain considerable amounts of fine (PM2.5) particulate, especially if it is produced by collapse of lava domes or by phreatomagmatic explosions3-4. Volcanic PM0.1 has been observed, but is not well-characterised and the toxicity has not been established but PM0.1 is known to have unusual physical properties which may pose significant health risks5. The relationship between the physical properties of PM and toxicity is inadequately understood.

In light of the WHO report, this project will determine the controls on the toxicity of different volcanic ash fractions of relevance to human health and aims to develop a responsive mode assessment technique for use in proximal and distal exposures.

Research Questions:

  • What are the health-pertinent physicochemical characteristics of the ultrafine, fine and coarse fractions of volcanic ash PM10?
  • Is there variable toxicity amongst the volcanic ash fractions?
  • How can a rapid assessment of volcanic PM10 toxicity be conducted during an eruption?
  • How does the toxicity of the PM fractions compare to background UK mineral dust?

Methodology

We will analyse dome-collapse and phreatomagmatic ash, choosing samples which maximise the likelihood of observing variations in effects. Individual size fractions, will be separated using an elutriator at SAFENANO (Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), Edinburgh). If suitable eruptions allow, airborne ash will also be collected by high-volume impactors in the field.

The physicochemical characteristics of size-fractionated PM will be determined using high-resolution techniques. At Durham, composition and morphology will be analysed by Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy (with EDS) and crystalline silica polymorphs quantified by XRD. Grain-size distributions will be measured during the separation process at SAFENANO. In the lung, the toxicity of particles is crucially affected by their solubility which is a function of particle size and composition. Solubility experiments will be carried out at Durham and in vitro silica-related toxicity experiments will be performed on the fractions at Heriot Watt and compared with existing data for volcanic ash6-7.

Recommended reading

  1. 14, 1262-1263 (2013).
  2. World Health Organisation. Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution – REVIHAAP Project - first results. (2013).
  3. Horwell, C.J. Grain size analysis of volcanic ash for the rapid assessment of respiratory health hazard. J. Environ. Monitor. 9, 1107-1115 (2007).
  4. Horwell, C.J., et al. A physico-chemical assessment of the health hazard of Mt. Vesuvius volcanic ash. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 191, 222-232 (2010).
  5. Borm, P., et al. The potential risks of nanomaterials: a review carried out for ECETOC. Particle and Fibre Toxicology 3, 11 (2006).
  6. Horwell, C.J., et al. Physicochemical and toxicological profiling of ash from the 2010 and 2011 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn volcanoes, Iceland using a rapid respiratory hazard assessment protocol. Environmental Research 127, 63-73 (2013).
  7. Damby, D.E., et al. The respiratory health hazard of tephra from the 2010 Centennial eruption of Merapi with implications for occupational mining of deposits. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 261, 376-387 (2013).

Training

The student will receive a trans-disciplinary training in nano-science, volcanology and medical geology; mineralogical training (XRD, SEM/TEM etc.) will be provided at Durham, toxicology training at Heriot Watt and separation of ash samples will take place under supervision of the SAFENANO group. Air quality monitoring and airborne collection of rural and urban dust samples will be supervised by CEH.

Timeline

We will appoint a PhD student with a biochemistry/geochemistry background. In year 1 they will collect and separate bulk ash samples, develop methodologies and begin the mineralogical analyses defining the physicochemical parameters. Ten months of years 2-3 will be spent as a CASE student based at BGS Edinburgh, with visits to CEH and Heriot Watt/IOM, where the air quality and toxicology work, respectively, will be conducted. In the final year, the optimum methodology will be tested on UK urban and background mineral dust samples and Icelandic background and near-source dusts.

The project outcomes will directly inform Public Health England, Scotland & Wales’s understanding of distal UK exposure effects during future eruptions, as well as informing research for the UK Cabinet Office (National Risk Register, for civil emergencies).

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – Newcastle

Contact

Claire Horwell

Soil moisture estimation: a new approach using multi-temporal satellite and airborne RADAR data

Supervisors

Prof D Donoghue (Durham)

Colm Jordan (British Geological Survey)

Dr Deodato Tapete (Durham)

Description

In 2010 the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) included soil moisture (SM) among the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) to develop, due to its role in the environment and climate system. SM controls the allocation of precipitation into runoff, subsurface flow and infiltration (GCOS-138 2010), with consequent impacts on ecosystem resources and land use practices and techniques (e.g. farming and forestry production).

It is currently under discussion if changes of topsoil capacity to retain moisture can be local responses to regional climate-change pressure, while it is widely demonstrated that increased rates of degradation can lead to loss of soil functions (EC Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection COM(2006)231, 22.9.2006), and affect ground stability inducing higher susceptibility to landsliding and flooding.

In this context, SM estimation is a key component of any environmental assessment of hazard, risk and resilience. The research frontier is now at the stage of using methodologies that combine in situ (field-based) measurements and satellite-derived estimates of SM with climate models. To this end, remote sensing data are being increasingly exploited (Chabrillat et al. 2002; Nioku et al. 2003; Ben-Dor et al. 2004; Wagner et al. 1999, 2007), to retrieve distributed spatial estimates not otherwise achievable with classical often poorly distributed ground measurements (Khalaf & Donoghue 2012). A plethora of historical (e.g. C-band ERS-1/2 scatterometer) and newly acquired satellite data are currently available, the most recent of which is the L-band Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity – SMOS mission (Kerr et al. 2001; Wigneron et al. 2008). Experiments to calibrate and validate satellite data often involve using airborne sensors (Albergel et al. 2011, 2012). A novel aspect of this project will be the evaluation of a newly available S-band airborne RADAR designed by Astrium to simulate the UK Space Agency’s NovaSAR-S satellite mission planned for 2015. The airborne demonstrator will allow SM estimates to be compared using X, S and L-bands for the first time.

However, more work has to be done to couple field measurements and estimates from multi-platform Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery with different temporal coverage, and synthesize sufficiently long time series allowing SM trends to be detected. Such achievement will provide unprecedented input parameters into models to draw reliable projections of future SM variations and predict impacts on natural resources and land.

Aim

The student will develop an innovative approach to estimate SM and quantify variability in space and time over both vegetated and bare soil. For the first time, SM estimates will be developed based on SAR data (ERS-1/2, ENVISAT, SMOS) from multi-platform/band space missions covering a period from 1992 to the present day. High resolution S-/X-band imagery acquired from Astrium’s airborne demonstrator will be also used to validate SM estimates from contemporary satellite acquisitions. In addition, the student will conduct targeted fieldwork campaigns to combine in situ measurements with SAR-based SM estimates, and use long-term monitoring on-site measurements of SM provided by BGS over selected sample areas. The combination of these multi-source data will underpin a reliable multi-temporal assessment of SM variation trends and the empirical testing using existing models.

Objectives

Specific objectives include:

  1. Refine methods for estimating SM from SAR data backscatter using ERS-1/2, ENVISAT ASAR and SMOS MIRAS data;
  2. Retrieve a long-term consistent SM time series using monthly sampling provided by historical data (ERS-1/2 SAR and ENVISAT ASAR) and high temporal (daily) frequency with SMOS MIRAS;
  3. Analyse SM variation trends over the period 1992 up to date, and identify those that have potentially detrimental effects on slope stability, moisture retention capacity and land use activities;
  4. Validate the observed SM trends over key sample areas by combining on-site SM measurements, long-term records from BGS datasets and SM estimates from Astrium’s airborne demonstrator imagery, and consequently assess the reliability of the SAR-based SM time series;
  5. Develop a GIS-based model which uses the retrieved SM time series as input parameters to draw the possible risk scenarios and assess the potential impacts on land, dynamics of environmental change and management of natural resources and ecosystems.

Materials and methods

The student will use the following data and facilities:

  • SAR imagery from ERS-1/2, ENVISAT (1992-2012) and SMOS MIRAS (2010-up to date) space missions released by the European Space Agency (ESA) will be used to synthesize long-term SM time series. C-band data are already available at BGS and are currently exploited for SAR investigation of unstable terrains and displacement measurement over the whole territory of Great Britain. The student will also benefit of the recent experience at BGS in the use of SMOS-derived SM data for shrink-swell hazard assessment.
  • Field SM measurements collected through targeted and distributed campaigns at different seasons corresponding to those of satellite imagery acquisitions will be used, along with the long-term monitoring on-site measurements of SM available at BGS for sample areas for calibration prior to SM retrieval from SAR imagery and, then, to validate the detected SM variation trends.
  • Validation and cross-calibration steps will also benefit of High Resolution S-/X-band data collected by Astrium during historical flight trials in 2010-2012 and new flight campaigns planned for 2014-15 (during the studentship). Astrium is a CASE Partner with a financial contribution of £4000
  • BGS has been asked to fund £2500 over the life of the project for T&S to work at BGS, hence the 'collaborative' description of the PhD.

Training

This project will enable the student to develop a suite of the skills identified as key priorities in the 2012 NERC Most Wanted training needs review, specifically training the student in Modelling: Spatial analysis and Geographic Information Systems; Data management and Numeracy: most key skills within these priorities; and Fieldwork: Survey and sampling skills, fieldwork and modelling.

These skills will be gained through targeted training within the IAPETUS consortium, specifically addressing numeracy through Programming and Analysis of Environmental Data in R, data management and remote sensing through Introduction to GIS (Durham University, Newcastle University). The prospective student will improve their knowledge in Global Climate Change, Catchments, Environmental Processes and Change, and Hazard Assessment, through attendance at seminars, workshops and other education/research dissemination initiatives organized by Durham Geography Department and Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience.

Individual tailored training to cover specific aspect of the project or different applications of commonly used methods. It is anticipated that the student will spend between one and two months per year working at BGS, while specific training in SAR imagery processing will take place at ESA Centres by attending advanced training on Land and Ocean Remote Sensing. At Durham University, the student will additionally be supported by specialist research training modules, generic training designed to support career progression for early career researchers led by Durham’s Centre for Academic Research Development (CARD), as well as advanced training available though IAPETUS to support skills development and employability.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS - Durham

Separating magnetic field sources using the Swarm satellite constellation

Supervisors

Kathy Whaler (Edinburgh, School of Geosciences)

Susan Macmillian (British Geological Survey)

Ciaran Beggan (British Geological Survey)

Description

In November 2013 the European Space Agency successfully launched the Swarm mission: three satellites flying in low earth orbit and measuring the magnetic field to unprecedented accuracy for at least the next 5 years. Prior to this the Ørsted and CHAMP satellites launched in 1999/2000 provided the first decadal-length satellite magnetic surveys with globally high spatial resolution. At the same time ground-based magnetic data were collected continuously at geomagnetic observatories across the world. These complementary sources of data prompted development of more detailed models of the Earth’s magnetic field to be made. These models are essential for understanding the Earth’s deep interior but are also of practical use in global navigation and for magnetic directional referencing in the oil industry. They also provide the basis for coordinate systems in ionospheric and magnetospheric field studies.

However, despite our best modelling efforts, there are still problems separating the various sources of the magnetic field which have signals that overlap in both the spatial and temporal domains. The main source is in the Earth’s fluid outer core and this changes slowly in time, elucidating deep Earth processes and composition. However, magnetised rocks in the Earth’s crust and the highly dynamic ionosphere-magnetosphere system (modulated by the solar wind) both present challenges to separating out the pure core field signal. Although a substantial amount of preparation work for the Swarm mission has already taken place in 'end-to-end' simulator models and recovery of the major field sources we expect that the actual data will be more complicated (Earth Planets and Space, Vol. 65 (11), 2013).

Key research questions

The over-arching objective of this project is to utilise the improved spatial and temporal resolution of the external fields that the new satellite programme will provide to refine magnetic source field parameterisations and models to the point where the individual sources can be much better defined and hence understood. Examples include (i) investigating secular changes in the auroral electrojets and to investigate to what extent the secular changes in the core field signal are involved in this (Hamilton and Macmillan, 2013; Vennerstrom and Moretto, 2013); (ii) applying Ampère’s integral method to Swarm data to quantify in-situ electrical currents in the regions between the satellites, whose existence can invalidate the widely applied source-free assumption in spherical harmonic analysis (Shore et al, 2013). Shore et al (2013) analysed the strength of the currents as a function of latitude, time of the day, and solar activity, and found evidence for intensification at mid-latitudes between midnight and dawn, a time that was thought to be relatively free of currents, but there were very few overflights of the Ørsted and CHAMP satellites that allowed these calculations to take place.

Recommended reading

Beggan, C.D., Whaler, K. A., and Macmillan S., 2009. Biased residuals of core flow models from satellite-derived 'virtual observatories', Geophys. J. Int., 177, 463-475. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04111.x.

Hamilton, B. and Macmillan, S, 2013. Investigation of decadal scale changes in the auroral oval positions using Magsat and CHAMP data. Poster at IAGA 12th Scientific Assembly, http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/503037/.

Shore, R. M.; K. A. Whaler; S. Macmillan; C. Beggan; N. Olsen; T. Spain and A. Aruliah, 2013. Ionospheric mid-latitude electric current density inferred from multiple magnetic satellites, J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys., 118, 5813–5829, DOI: 10.1002/jgra.50491.

Vol. 65 (11) Swarm Special Issue of Earth, Planets and Space, 2013, http://www.terrapub.co.jp/journals/EPS/frame/65.html.

Vennerstrom, S. and Moretto, T., 2013. Monitoring auroral electrojets with satellite data. Space Weather, 11, 509–519, doi:10.1002/swe.20090.

Timeline

Year 1

  • Subject familiarisation and development of detailed project plan
  • Data familiarisation and preparation
  • Develop code to identify locations & intensities of auroral electrojets in satellite data
  • Familiarisation with software for producing field models with a variety of sources solved for simultaneously
  • First year report on progress for the University of Edinburgh and presentation to BGS geomagnetism team

Year 2

  • Visit British Antarctic Survey (Rob Shore) for collaborative work on applying the Ampère’s integral code to Swarm data
  • Development of software for producing field models and core flows with improved methods for dealing with the ionospheric and magnetospheric signals
  • Presentation to international science meetings e.g. EGU/AGU/Swarm International Science meeting
  • If appropriate, paper to peer-reviewed journal
  • Second year report on progress

Year 3-4

  • Continued development of software for producing magnetic field models/core flows
  • Interpretation of results
  • Presentation to international science meetings e.g. IAGA/EGU/AGU
  • One or more papers to peer-reviewed journals
  • Thesis

Training

A comprehensive training programme will be provided comprising both specialist scientific training and generic transferable and professional skills. The student will learn how to process large volumes of satellite data, programming in Matlab and some solar-terrestrial physics and magnetohydrodynamics.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

E3 – Edinburgh

Contact

Kathy Whaler

Are geodynamo models “Earth-like”?

Supervisors

Dr Jon Mound

Dr Phil Livermore

Dr Ciaran Beggan (British Geological Survey)

Description

A full understanding of how the geomagnetic field is generated in Earth’s liquid core remains one of the great outstanding problems in Earth Science. The principal difficulty is that the core is far too remote to be probed directly; scientific knowledge has advanced through exploiting a limited set of observations and computer simulations of the Earth’s core. The computational models have improved significantly in the past decade, largely due to ongoing technological improvements in computing. Over the same time period our understanding of the present and past structure and dynamics of the Earth’s magnetic field has improved due to the continued accumulation of observations from satellite missions and from archaeo- and palaeo-magnetic investigations.

Despite these advances, numerical models still cannot be run in parameter regimes that match physical properties within Earth’s core. Furthermore, questions remain regarding how strongly the boundary conditions at the top and bottom of the fluid core influence the flow within. Do the thermal anomalies associated with subducting slabs and large low shear velocity provinces at the core-mantle boundary control flow at the surface of the core? Does a persistent translation of the inner core result in uneven heating at the base of the outer core that preferentially promotes convection in one hemisphere, whilst suppressing it in the other? What is the correct balance of forces and boundary conditions to reproduce an “Earth-like” magnetic field?

What is an “Earth-like” magnetic field? Although we cannot expect our numerical models to exactly reproduce the Earth’s magnetic field, they may be able to reproduce the general structure and dynamics of the field in a statistical sense. With proper measures of what constitutes an Earth-like field, we can determine what classes of models best reproduce that field, and thus which models are the most useful analogues of the Earth. Previously used definitions of Earth-like field properties do not include all known constraints on the structure and dynamics of the Earth’s magnetic field: improvements in observations suggest new constraints related to the location, structure and persistence of patches of anomalous geomagnetic field strength; geomagnetic jerks (sudden variations in the rate of change of the magnetic field) are known to occur, and the spatial and temporal pattern of these events is now much better understood. The accumulation of work in both numerical modelling and measurement makes this an opportune time to re-evaluate what an “Earth-like” magnetic field is, which numerical models can usefully reproduce it, and which models are simply wrong.

Project tasks

In this project the student will first work to develop new statistical measures that characterise the Earth’s magnetic field and its secular variation. The student will then apply these measures to an existing suite of numerical geodynamo outputs previously produced at the University of Leeds in order to re-evaluate whether current models produce Earth-like fields. Insight from these investigations will direct the production of new model runs in order to more fully explore the required ingredients for a numerical model of the geodynamo process to exhibit Earth-like behaviour.

Requirements

We seek a highly motivated candidate with a strong background in mathematics, physics, computation, geophysics or another highly numerate discipline. Knowledge of geomagnetism is not required, and training will be given in all aspects of the PhD.

Suggested background reading

A Millennium of Geomagnetism, online material

A three-dimensional self-consistent computer simulation of a geomagnetic field reversal, Glatzmaier & Roberts, Nature 377, 203-209, 1995.

Conditions for Earth-like geodynamo models, Christensen, U. R., Aubert, J., & Hulot, G., Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 296(3-4), 487–496, 2010.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

SPHERES - Leeds

Contact details

For further information please contact Jon Mound or Phil Livermore.

Fissures and fountains: magma dynamics in basaltic conduits

Supervisors

Dr Ed Llewellin, Dept. Earth Sciences, Durham University

Dr Richy Brown, Dept. Earth Sciences, Durham University

Dr Charlotte Vye-Brown, Volcanology Team, BGS

Prof Bruce Houghton, SOEST, University of Hawai`i

Description

Basaltic volcanoes are found all around the world and are responsible for the bulk of the planet’s magma output. Their eruptions are often spectacular, but are rarely violently explosive; consequently the hazard that they pose to life is modest. Nonetheless, basaltic eruptions can have serious impacts, and gas and ash emissions during Icelandic eruptions represent a significant hazard to the UK.

Basaltic eruptions are highly diverse. Some produce spectacular pyroclastic explosions, some produce fountains of scoria, some effuse gently, and all erupt abundant gas. The dramatic variability in their vigour, duration and eruptive style is at odds with the relative uniformity of the physical and chemical properties of basaltic magma. Analogue experiments indicate that complex, multiphase fluid dynamic processes occurring in the shallow subsurface provide the explanation.

Core aims

In this study, we will address fundamental questions about how basaltic eruptions work by investigating how magma moves to the surface and quantifying the relationship between surface eruptive phenomena and physical processes at shallow depth. This is a crucial step to forecasting the onset, evolution and termination of basaltic fissure eruptions.

Research questions

We will combine field observations with analogue experiments and analytical modelling to address the following:

  1. What flow patterns develop as bubbly magma ascends a fissure?
  2. What are the effects of the focusing of magma flow from a fissure into discrete vents?
  3. How is melt–gas coupling/decoupling influenced by these flow processes and by the evolving geometry of the conduit system?
  4. What controls the evolution and termination of fountaining episodes?

Research methodology

Most eruptions at basaltic volcanoes are fed at depth by dykes, but localize in the shallow sub-surface to form discrete, fountaining vents due to positive feedbacks amongst magma flow rate, temperature and rheology. However, the role of (non-thermal) convection within the dyke, driven by ascent of fingers of low-density, vesicular magma, is un-investigated. This study will build the first quantitative conceptual model of the processes that operate in the very shallow magmatic plumbing system (<1km) beneath basaltic volcanoes.

Fieldwork will compare and contrast the geometries of vents and the shallow plumbing systems of fissures in Hawaii and Iceland to discern the processes controlling eruption style. Laboratory analogue experiments will be performed to characterize the processes that operate when a magma analogue undergoes buoyancy-driven exchange flow in a dyke. Understanding the fluid dynamics of bubbly magma flow in dykes is key to understanding the evolution of basaltic eruptions. Analytical / numerical modelling will combine experimental results, and published literature, to build the first analytical and numerical models to describe the buoyancy driven flow of magma in fissures.

Training

Specialist training in laboratory techniques will be provided by Llewellin. Field training will be provided by Brown, Vye-Brown and Houghton. The student will also benefit from participation in an Experimental Volcanology workshop, hosted by Llewellin, as part of the ERC-funded VERTIGO Initial Training Network.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS - Durham

Contact details

For further information please contact Dr Ed Llewellin.

Energy & Marine Geoscience
Basin-scale mineral and fluid processes at a palaeo-platform margin, Lower Carboniferous, UK

Supervisors

Dr Cathy Hollis (Manchester)

Professor Jim Marshall (Liverpool)

Professor Michael Stephenson (British Geological Survey)

Dr Jim Riding (British Geological Survey)

Description

The studentship will be based at the University of Manchester with BGS as a CASE partner. The aim of the project is to determine whether a reconstruction of (Carboniferous - Permian) palaeofluid flow paths in an intensely dolomitised carbonate platform margin can provide insight into the extent of hydrocarbon migration out of adjacent clay-rich successions in adjacent hanging wall basins. This would be achieved by an investigation of the interdependency between faulting, fracturing, dissolution and fluid flow (resulting in dolomitisation, silicification, hydrocarbon emplacement and lead-zinc mineralisation) at the platform edge. It will require field and core based sedimentological and structural analysis, detailed petrological studies, isotope analyses, fluid inclusion studies and some fluid flow modelling. The study will be facilitated by the provision of dolomitized limestone core from a site investigation for four wind turbine sites in the Derbyshire Peak District. The wind turbines bear into dolomitized limestone and are situated immediately to the north of Carsington Reservoir, which is underlain by middle Carboniferous shales. The starting hypothesis is that the source of the fluids was initially deep seawater and basinal brines carrying hydrocarbons and Mississippi Valley Type (MVT) mineralizing fluids derived from the subsiding Widmerpool Gulf (Hollis and Walkden, 2013; Frazer et al., 2012). The anticipated outcome of this project is a contribution to future refinement of shale gas reserve calculations as well as a deeper understanding of the relationship between organic maturation, clastic diagenesis, basinal fluid flux and porosity modification on adjacent carbonate platforms.

Geological Context

On the SE Derbyshire Platform, Lower Carboniferous (Visean) limestones (with the exception of significant areas of fringing Waulsortian mud mounds) have been dolomitized and mineralized (a MVT scenario). Carbonate sedimentation was established in a back-arc extensional regime, and dolomitization is thought to have taken place during post-rift thermal subsidence and basin inversion (Frazer et al., 2012). The onset of compressional tectonics associated with the Variscan Orogeny resulted in multiple phases of fault/fracture controlled calcite cementation and Pb-Zn-F-Ba mineralization (Hollis and Walkden, 2002). The core that is available comes from a strategic location (platform edge) and is therefore ideal for hypothesis testing. The occurrence of pockets of saddle dolomite indicates that at least some of the dolomite is hydrothermal. There is significant evidence of subsequent phases of fluid movement, e.g. the area is characterised by extensive karst; there are joint-bounded areas of dolomite that occur as dolomite sand; areas of vuginess that are associated with specific stratigraphical horizons, and the area is extensively mineralized with lead-zinc deposits some of which is associated with hypogene palaeokarst.

Research Objectives

  1. A literature review to develop a working conceptual ground model for fluid emplacement and a review to provide a baseline for subsequent comparison with organic materials and hydrocarbons identified in the platform facies.
  2. Fieldwork to map the distribution and style of fracturing and dolomite distribution, including dolomite-limestone transition and the application of structural mapping to provide structural evidence of the extent of fault/ discontinuity control as the influence on fluid migration at the platform edge of the Variscan orogeny migrated northwards.
  3. Trials to explore the potential for the use of passive seismic (Tromino; Panzera et al., 2013) in the determination of the depth to basement to inform the conceptual ground model.
  4. Combined petrographical analysis (thin sections, scanning electron microscope, cathodoluminescence) and low temperature geochemistry (X ray diffraction, X ray fluorescence, stable isotopes, strontium isotope analysis, fluid inclusion analysis to establish: (i) the paragenetic history of dolomitised and undolomitised beds (ii) the relative timing and temperatures of fluid flow, including, dolomitizing fluids, silica-rich (chert-precipitating) fluids, hydrocarbons (and associated gases), and MVT mineralization (lead-zinc).
  5. Geochemical analysis of basinal carbonate and siliciclastic sediments (XRD, XRF, Total Organic Carbon, GC-MS) of the adjacent shales in order to provide quantify organic content and composition and clay composition in order to assess the potential for the sediments to source hydrocarbon and cations for dolomitisation and mineralisation on the adjacent carbonate platform.
  6. Geochemical, and possibly reactive transport modelling to test the conceptual model and assess the compositional and temporal constraints on the base hypothesis. This in turn offers the potential to further understanding with respect to any depletion of the age-equivalent successions, such as the Bowland Shale Formation.
  7. There is a potential for an interested student to present the findings as a 3D geological model to enhance knowledge transfer and impact.

Recommended reading

Bridges, P.H. and Chapman, A. 1988. The anatomy of a deep water mud-mound complex to the southwest of the Dinantian platform in Derbyshire, UK. Sedimentology, 35, 139-162. Ford, T.D 2002. Dolomitization of the Carboniferous Limestone of the Peak District: a Review. Mercian Geologist, 15, 3, 163-170.

Frazer, M., Whitaker, F and Hollis, C., 2012 Pb-Zn mineralisation of Derbyshire, Northern England: assessing the role of compaction-driven flow. Proceedings of Geofluids VII International Conference, June 6-8, 2012, 4 pp.

Hollis, C. and Walkden, G. 2002. Reconstructing fluid expulsion and migration north of the Variscan orogeny, Northern England. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 72, 5, 700-710.

Panzera, F., Lombardo, G., D’Amico, S. and Galea, P. 2013. Speedy techniques to evaluate seismic site effects in particular geomorphologic conditions: faults, cavities, landslides and topographic irregularities. In: D’Amico, S. 2013. Engineering seismology, geotechnical and structural earthquake engineering. Intech Publishing. 300pp. DOI: 10.5772/55439.

Training

Training supervisory support from: Dr Cathy Hollis (University of Manchester), Prof Jim Marshall (University of Liverpool), Dr Jim Riding, Dr Jon Naden, Dr Chris Vane, Mr Mike Raines and Dr Vanessa Banks (British Geological Survey). The training programme will be designed to ensure that the student develops the transferable skill sets required to undertake this research. This will include: literature review, conceptual ground model development (understanding of depositional environment, tectonic setting and baseline chemistry of the Bowland Shale Formation), field based passive seismic surveying, core logging and sample preparation (for thin sections, isotope analysis and fluid inclusion studies), carbonate petrology, laboratory skills (isotope analyses [oxygen, strontium] and geochemical analyses [organic and inorganic] and the applied geochemistry skills required for interpreting/ modelling geochemical processes.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

Training the Next Generation of Environmental Scientists –Manchester

Engineering Geology
Rock masses on the move – modelling mass-movement geohazards for changing climate scenarios

Supervisors

Dr William Murphy

Dr Andrew Farrant (British Geological Survey)

Dr Phil Murphy

Dr Steven Dobbie

Description

Landslides and their associated phenomena are a significant global geohazard. In the United Kingdom, the engineering performance of hill-slopes is influenced not only by the geotechnical properties of the rock, but also by other factors such as periglacial weathering, valley incision and climatic change. Slope failure modes include rock-falls, avalanches, landslides, solifluction and cambering; although most of these are reasonably well understood, the mechanisms and causes of cambering are less well known. Cambering and the associated processes of valley bulging and gull formation occur on hill-slopes where stronger and permeable rocks overlie weaker and impermeable beds such as mudstone. They are caused by the gravitational lowering of outcropping of near-surface strata towards an adjacent valley due to the extrusion of the underlying weak material. The stronger, fractured overburden develops a local dip or ‘camber’ towards the valleys, gradually breaking up down slope into more disjointed blocks, draping over the underlying strata. On the valley flanks, linear fractures known as ‘gulls’ develop in the competent cap-rocks which can prove problematic for the construction industry (Hawkins and Privett, 1981). In some cases these gulls are large enough to be explored, forming gull-cave networks several hundred metres long (figure 1). Gull fissures are often infilled (figure 2) with materials which may be problematic in their own right. These features are common throughout the UK, especially in Permian and Jurassic successions, but are especially prevalent in the interbedded Jurassic limestone and mudstone sequences of the Cotswold Hills and North York Moors. Similar processes can be seen contributing to large Alpine landslides (Wilson et al 2000) and affecting the stability of stone mines in northern France.

The physical effects of cambering are clear, however, the mechanics of how this process takes place remain uncertain. Therefore the potential for such features to be reactivated under changing climatic conditions are unclear. In this project the mechanics of how cambering and gull formation happen will be investigated and the conditions through which reactivation could occur. Such conditions will be considered in view of climate change scenarios for the United Kingdom.This research will involve a combination of field observation and monitoring in shallow mines and cave systems, geotechnical laboratory testing of rocks and soils and numerical modelling of the ground behaviour to replicate current conditions and as a predictive tool for future climate scenarios.

Location of field sites

The principal study area will be the Bath region, where extensive landslides, cambering and gulls have been mapped (Hobbs and Jenkins 2002), and slope instability has an on-going impact on infrastructure and development (Cooke and McCombie, 1999). This area has been chosen because the quarrying of the local ‘Bath Stone’ has left a legacy of abandoned mines. These extensive, but easily accessible pillar and stall mines, developed in the Middle Jurassic oolitic limestones, intersect numerous cambers and gull fissures. Naturally accessible gull caves are also present in the Bath area, including Sally’s Rift, the UK’s longest gull cave (Self, 1995). Both the mines and the gull caves enable physical access to an extensively cambered and gulled rock mass. This allows the spatial extent, dimensions and interconnectivity of gulls and cambers to be studied, and critically permits their relationship to joint patterns and topography to be examined in detail.

Research objectives

The main objective of this research is to examine how and where cambering and gull formation occurs and to provide an evaluation of future activity for the design of resilient infrastructure. This can be broken down into several parts:

  1. To determine the three-dimensional spatial extent, distribution and connectivity of gull fractures within cap-rock successions and to assess whether these features are still subject to mass-movement.
  2. To determine a suitable geotechnical characterisation of the capping rock mass and the underlying mudstones to establish a numerical model of the ground conditions to test such conditions against the distribution of strain determined in (1).
  3. To use the numerical model (finite difference) to evaluate what conditions will lead to reactivation and under what climate change scenario models such conditions may occur based on the geotechnical model of field sites developed in (2).

Skills and expertise

A successful applicant will develop a range of key skills in field, laboratory and computer modelling environments. You will learn field surveying and monitoring techniques, be trained in the construction of ground models, and understand how to use geotechnical methods to assign appropriate parameters to geological units for numerical modelling. Learning how to manipulate complex spatial datasets and undertake Finite Difference modelling provides an excellent skillset for either an academic or industry-focussed geotechnical career. Although fieldwork will involve working underground in stone mines, caving experience is not a pre-requisite, but some experience may be advantageous. The applicant will work closely with a team of Engineering Geologists at the British Geological Survey near Nottingham.

Impact

In addition to understanding the site specific issues associated with gull formation and cambering, the general mechanisms of cambering and gull formation will be rigorously tested, using state of the art geotechnical models. For the first time, quantification of the amount of current and past movement, including estimates of total rock-mass extension over short (1-2 year) and longer (103-105 year) term timescales will enable models of mass-movement to be tested. The extension of rock masses with unloading has considerable implications for the understanding of progressive landslide development in rock slopes, as well as rock mass behaviour in underground construction and development of preferential flow pathways in deep aquifers.

Key references

Cook, D. and McCombie, P. 1999 Superficial Landslipping in the Area of the City of Bath, England, an Approach to Maintenance and Repair. 2nd International Conference on Landslides, Slope Stability & The Safety of Infrastructures, July 1999, pp.147-154.

Hawkins, A. B., & Privett, K. D. 1981. A building site on cambered ground at Radstock, Avon. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 14(3), 151-167.

Hobbs, P.R.N. and Jenkins, G. 2002. Reconnaissance survey of slope instability in the Bath area. British Geological Survey, Internal Report IR/02/146

Self, C.A. 1995 The relationship between the gull cave Sally’s Rift and the development of the River Avon east of Bath. Proceedings of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society, 1995, 20(2), pp 91-108.

Wilson. A., Murphy, W., and Petley, D.N. 2000. Some observations on the geotechnics and movement of large volume earth flows in Alpine Regions. In Bromhead, E., Dixon, N. and Ibsen, M-L. Landslides In Research, Theory and Practice. Thomas Telford, London, 1581-1586.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

SPHERES - Leeds

Contact

Please contact William Murphy

Identifying slow deformation processes preceding dynamic failure by combining microseismic monitoring of an active rockfall at Madonna del Sasso, Verbania, Italy and rock deformation laboratory experiments

Supervisors

Dr. Sergio Vinciguerra (Environmental Science Center, British Geological Survey)

Dr. Stefan Nielsen (Durham Earth Sciences)

Dr. Nicola de Paola (Durham Earth Sciences)

Description

The project is aimed at developing innovative strategies for forecasting dynamic ruptures by monitoring an unstable patch of the Madonna del Sasso, Verbania, Italy rock mass, prone to the development of rock falls and repeated failure episodes, preceded by clear and long lasting episodes of slow deformation. The identification of characteristic signs of impending failure is possible because of the installation of a “site specific” microseismic monitoring (1-200kHz) system for acoustic emission/microseismic (AE/MS), integrated with a conventional monitoring for seismic detection (1-10Hz) and ground deformation monitoring strainmeters, geophones and accelerometers as a result of a collaborative project supported from University of Turin, ARPA, Piemonte and SEIS-UK (Fig. 1).

The installation of the monitoring network has been accompanied by a detailed geophysical characterization of the test site in order to establish the best nodes position and internal characteristics of the monitored rock mass. In this respect both in-hole and surface seismic geophysical tests have been undertaken, allowing to provide fundamental parameters for a correct definition of the velocity field of the rock mass. Following this preliminary analysis the first 4 stations of the network have been installed and data from the monitoring network can be analyzed in order to correctly locate micro seismic sources. In this respect the project is aimed at testing and evaluating different source location algorithms and develop new stable methodologies in order to come up with the best solution comparably to the available field data. Studies related to the frequency content of the micro-tremors detected by the network will also be undertaken and their possible correlation with the stiffness and stability constraints and rock bridges that keep the rock mass in its stable configuration will be investigated. It will be finally evaluated the correlation of these characteristics of the signals with the climatic conditions and freezing cycles.

Core aims

The main objective aims to identify slow deformation/pre-failure mechanisms (slow cracks nucleation, growth and propagation) and related physical parameters (AE, strain and seismic structure) during real-time stress controlled rock deformation laboratory experiments. Rock physical and mechanical characterization along with rock deformation laboratory experiments during which the evolution of related physical parameters under simulated conditions of stress and fluid content will be studied in order to identify the processes responsible for the mechanical instability. Indeed changes in micro-fracturing activity, and physical properties prior to the ultimate fracture of rock samples control the preparation process of the rupture. Rock failure will produce localized slip surfaces along which competing weakening and strengthening mechanisms will determine the evolution from low slip rates of few mm/s to large slip rates of m/s, leading to a large scale rockfall. This project will produce better constraints on the processes, which control the different stage of rockfall events, from their nucleation (relevant to understanding of precursory phenomena) to their propagation.

Research Questions:

During the PhD the student will investigate the following questions: (1) What are the characteristic slow deformation signals and accelerating patterns before impending failure? (2) What are the relationships between the mechanical processes and the geophysical signatures of interest for monitoring the slow deformation ? (3) How can we transfer knowledge between multiscale signs of slow deformation from the laboratory to the field ?

Methodology

Field studies 1) identify and describe (e.g. geometry, finite thickness, grain size, etc.) zones of localised slip; 2) measure the amount of slip associated with individual sliding events; 3) collect samples from the slip zones and surrounding rocks suitable for microstructural and mineralogical analyses and laboratory friction experiments. Seismological observations 1) identify and discriminate characteristic seismic signals recorded throughout frequency and spectra analysis; 2) Relate locations and seismic features to the deforming event of the rock mass. Deformation experiments will be carried out on samples with different stages of alteration/damage. Physical (density, porosity, microseismicity, permeability) and mechanical (elastic moduli, strength and friction) will be measured throughout state-of-the-art experimental apparata. Microstructural observations (optical microscopy, SEM) will be carried out on thin sections obtained from suitable experimental and natural samples.

Recommended reading

Apuani, T.; Corazzato, C.; Cancelli, A.; Tibaldi, A.; Physical and mechanical properties of rock masses at Stromboli: a dataset for volcano instability evaluation, Bull. Eng. Geol Env, 2005, 64, 419-431.

Benson P.M., Vinciguerra S., Meredith P. Young P., Laboratory Simulation of Volcano Seismicity, 2008, Science, 322, 249-252.

Di Toro, G.; Han, R.; Hirose, T.; Paola, N. D.; Nielsen, S.; Mizoguchi, K.; Ferri, F.; Cocco, M. & Shimamoto, T. Fault lubrication during earthquakes. Nature, 2011, 471, 494-499.

Timeline

The activity in the first year of the PhD will be devoted to bibliographic research, field excursions, sample collection, seismic data (microseismicity) reduction, laboratory training and perfecting of sample preparation procedures, and preliminary tests. The second year will be devoted to experimental activity both on triaxial and friction experiments, analysis of lab microseismicity and post-experimental microstructure and interpretation of experimental observations in terms of processes. Third year will be devoted in small part to further experimental activity, but mainly, to the interpretation, extrapolation of results to the field and writing of publications and PhD thesis.

Training

The PhD student will derive very significant benefits from this project; he/she will be involved in a cutting-edge, multidisciplinary project. The student will be trained in different disciplinary fields as geophysics, field monitoring techniques, rockfall mechanics and laboratory mechanical experiments. Importantly, he or she will learn to use high pressure rock deformation apparatuses and techniques which are widespread not only in the world of academic research but also that of technical expertise and industry. In addition, he or she will develop skills to undertake microscopic analysis of rock formations and the interpretation of the deformation microstructures.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS - Durham

Contact

Dr. Sergio Vinciguerra

Dr. Stefan Nielsen

Dr. Nicola de Paola

Laboratory earthquakes

Supervisors

Dr. Stefan Nielsen, Durham Earth Sciences

Dr. Nicola de Paola, Durham Earth Sciences

Dr. Sergio Vinciguerra, Environmental Science Center, British geological Centre

Description

Earthquakes are generated by fast rupture and slip on faults, whose largest portion is deeply embedded within the Earth crust and difficult to access directly. Though earthquakes of all sizes are routinely detected and often cause tolls in human lives and damage, several crucial aspects of seismic rupture are still a matter of debate. Evidence from seismology, field geology and laboratory studies point to dramatic frictional weakening of faults during earthquakes (Di Toro et al., 2011). The nature of weakening mechanisms and what controls them are still not clearly constrained, though there is evidence that weakening is promoted by high slip velocity, normal stress and, generally, the amount of dissipated frictional power (Nielsen et al., 2010). Faults are also known to be geometrically complex and rough on all scales, but the effect of roughness on seismic rupture is poorly explored so far.

In this study, we will address fundamental questions about how fracture propagates under conditions typical of faults at several km depth. Because faults are difficult to access in the Earth, it is useful to simulate them in the laboratory under controlled conditions and to recreate the equivalent of natural earthquakes on a reduced scale. Thus the properties and behavior of natural rocks under earthquake-like rupture can be directly measured.

Research Questions:

During the PhD the student will investigate the following questions: (1) How does the detail of the friction weakening curve depend on slip history and loading conditions and can we generalize this behaviour into a new set of rate and state equations? (2) What is the effect of geometrical complexities of the fault surface (kinks, bends, asperities) on the rupture propagation and on the radiated wavefield? (3) How do these results apply to natural microearthquakes (Nadeau and Johnson, 1998) with high stress-drop and how does it upscale to larger faults and larger magnitude quakes? (4) How do the microstructures compare to those found on exhumed natural faults?

Methodology

Under stress conditions typical of natural faults, weakening may be achieved within a few tens of microns of slip only (Passelegue et al., 2013). Fully developed, dynamically propagating micro-earthquakes can be produced by stick-slip on small, pre-cut samples at the laboratory scale, provided that sufficient confining pressure and stress are imposed.

Such loading conditions can be imposed on centimetric samples (collected from exhumed seismic faults hosted in carbonate rocks, Italian Apennines), by a triaxial press such as the one at the Durham rock mechanics and at B.G.S. laboratories. Producing earthquakes in the laboratory under controlled conditions allows to directly observe the dynamic rock behaviour and measure parameters relevant to friction, rupture velocity, high frequency wave radiation (peak and steady-state friction, weakening distance, fracture energy, strength recovery). The measurements can be achieved by the instrumentation of a sample with acoustic emission sensors and high frequency strain gauges.

Recommended reading

Di Toro, G.; Han, R.; Hirose, T.; Paola, N. D.; Nielsen, S.; Mizoguchi, K.; Ferri, F.; Cocco, M. & Shimamoto, T. Fault lubrication during earthquakes. Nature, 2011, 471, 494-499

Nielsen, S.; Mosca, P.; Giberti, G.; Di Toro, G.; Hirose, T. & Shimamoto, T. On the transient behavior of frictional melt during seismic slip

Journal of Geophysical Research, 2010, 115, B10301

Passelègue, F.; Schubnel, A.; Nielsen, S.; Bhat, H. & Madariaga, R. From sub-Rayleigh to supershear ruptures during stick-slip experiments on crustal rocks. Science, 2013, 340, 1208-1211

Training

The PhD student will derive very significant benefits from this project; he/she will be involved in a cutting-edge, multidisciplinary project. The student will be trained in different disciplinary fields as field structural geology, earthquake mechanics, laboratory mechanical experiments and fluid flow modelling. Importantly, he or she will learn to use high pressure rock deformation apparatuses and techniques which are widespread not only in the world of academic research but also that of technical expertise and industry. In addition, he or she will develop skills to undertake microscopic analysis of rock formations and the interpretation of the deformation microstructures.

Timeline

The activity in the first year of the PhD will be devoted to bibliographic research, laboratory training, adapting existing laboratory machines, design/realization of new mechanical parts, perfecting of sample preparation procedures, and preliminary tests. The second year will be devoted to experimental activity, field excursions to obtain natural fault samples, analysis of post-experimental microstructure and interpretation of experimental observations in terms of processes. Third year will be devoted in small part to further experimental activity, but mainly, to the interpretation, extrapolation of results to real earthquakes and writing of publications and PhD thesis.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS - Durham

Contact

Dr. Stefan Nielsen

Dr. Nicola de Paola

Dr. Sergio Vinciguerra

Glacial, hydrological and landscape change in a deglaciating catchment: Virkisjökull, Iceland

Supervisors

Dr NE Barrand (University of Birmingham)

Dr DM Hannah (University of Birmingham)

Dr CR Jackson (British Geological Survey)

BE O’Dochartaigh (British Geological Survey)

Dr J Everest (British Geological Survey)

Description

Climatic fluctuations during the last century have resulted in widespread recession of global glaciers. Glaciers in Iceland in particular have retreated since the early part of the 20th century, resulting in changes to hydrological and geomorphological systems, and exposure of large areas of formerly glaciated terrain.

This uniquely interdisciplinary PhD project aims to link glacial change, hydrological dynamics and landscape formation processes in an Icelandic river basin to understand the consequences of climate warming using a suite of state-of-the-art numerical models. The successful candidate will conduct fieldwork at a well instrumented study site (Virkisjökull) operated by the British Geological Survey (BGS), and supplement existing observational datasets. These data will be used to investigate drivers of glacier change, shifting contributions to stream flow and changes in proglacial river morphology. This research will have important practical implications for land, hazard and water management in deglaciating catchments.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website. A number of fully funded studentships are available to the best UK and EU candidates, who must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/application/studentships.

Application deadline31 January 2014

Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Birmingham

This studentship is available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium. The studentship is based at the School of Geography, University of Birmingham but is co-supervised by BGS. As such, the student will be expected to spend periods of time working at the BGS Keyworth office near Nottingham.

Environmental Modelling
Glacial, hydrological and landscape change in a deglaciating catchment: Virkisjökull, Iceland

Supervisors

Dr NE Barrand (University of Birmingham)

Dr DM Hannah (University of Birmingham)

Dr CR Jackson (British Geological Survey)

BE O’Dochartaigh (British Geological Survey)

Dr J Everest (British Geological Survey)

Description

Climatic fluctuations during the last century have resulted in widespread recession of global glaciers. Glaciers in Iceland in particular have retreated since the early part of the 20th century, resulting in changes to hydrological and geomorphological systems, and exposure of large areas of formerly glaciated terrain.

This uniquely interdisciplinary PhD project aims to link glacial change, hydrological dynamics and landscape formation processes in an Icelandic river basin to understand the consequences of climate warming using a suite of state-of-the-art numerical models. The successful candidate will conduct fieldwork at a well instrumented study site (Virkisjökull) operated by the British Geological Survey (BGS), and supplement existing observational datasets. These data will be used to investigate drivers of glacier change, shifting contributions to stream flow and changes in proglacial river morphology. This research will have important practical implications for land, hazard and water management in deglaciating catchments.

This studentship is available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium. The studentship is based at the School of Geography, University of Birmingham but is co-supervised by BGS. As such, the student will be expected to spend periods of time working at the BGS Keyworth office near Nottingham.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website www.centa.org.uk. A number of fully funded studentships are available to the best UK and EU candidates, who must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/application/studentships.

Application deadline: 31 January 2014

Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Birmingham

Investigating drainage beneath the British-Irish Ice Sheet: groundwater flow modelling and meltwater channel networks

Supervisors

Professor Chris Clark (University of Sheffield)

Dr Stephen Livingstone (University of Sheffield)

Professor Domenico Baú (University of Sheffield)

Dr Chris Jackson (British Geological Survey)

Description

The behaviour of ice sheets is largely governed by basal conditions at the ice-bed interface. In particular, observations made beneath the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets reveal significant basal meltwater generation, storage and evacuation; lubricating the bed and facilitating rapid ice-flow. Unfortunately, the basal and temporal form of the hydrological system beneath modern ice sheets is poorly conceived. This is compromising the ability to accurately model processes at the ice bed interface.

In particular, glaciologists have tended to think of the ice-sheet bed as an impermeable surface. However, the weight of an overlying ice mass has a major impact on groundwater flow patterns, recharge rates and distribution of freshwater. Detailing the complex aquifer-ice-sheet interactions is therefore a crucial component of the basal meltwater system, both as a mechanism for draining meltwater and in landform and sediment genesis.

An alternative approach to investigating the subglacial hydrology of existing ice sheets is to observe palaeo-ice sheet beds. This is advantageous because we have comprehensive information about the bed properties, and can easily access and examine the glacial sediments and landforms. We can therefore provide detailed information on the form and evolution of the hydrological network (e.g. the pattern of meltwater flow) and investigate their impact on meltwater drainage and ice-dynamics over long time-scales. Moreover, understanding palaeo-groundwater flows has profound implications for water resource managers, in reconciling modern groundwater stores; identifying offshore glacial meltwater plumes; and determining sustainable pumping rates from confined aquifers that hosted glacial meltwaters; in considering the long-term disposal of nuclear wastes; and for biologists investigating microbe evolution in groundwaters. In this project we will use the bed of the British-Irish Ice Sheet, which has fully retreated revealing a bewildering array of meltwater features (see figure below), in tandem with a numerical model, to reconstruct the form, evolution and drainage of groundwater and basal meltwater. This will be explored through:

  1. High-resolution (1 m, LIDAR) mapping of meltwater channels on the bed of the former British-Irish Ice Sheet.
  2. Using a numerical model to reconstruct the pattern of groundwater drainage during the last glacial.

Candidates with knowledge and interests in glacial hydrology, groundwater/ice-sheet modelling and/or glacial geomorphology are encouraged to apply.

References

Clark, C.D., Hughes, A.L.C., Greenwood, S.L., Jordan, C.J. and Sejrup, H.P. (2012). Pattern and timing of retreat of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet. Quaternary Science Reviews, 44, 112-146.

Livingstone, S.J., Clark, C.D. and Woodward, J. (2013). Predicting subglacial lakes and meltwater drainage pathways beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. The Cryosphere Discuss 7: 1177-1213.

Livingstone, S.J., Clark, C.D. and Tarasov, L. (2013). North American palaeo-subglacial lakes and their meltwater drainage pathways: predictions and geomorphological clues to their origin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 375, 13-33.

Alzraiee A., Baù D. and L.A. Garcia (2013). Multi-Objective Design of Aquifer Monitoring Networks for Optimal Spatial Prediction and Geostatistical Parameter Estimation, Water Resources Research, 46, Issue 6,DOI: 10.1002/wrcr.20300

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

ACCE - Sheffield

Contact

Dr Stephen Livingstone

Geological Survey Northern Ireland

There are currently no opportunities in this Science Area.

Geology & Regional Geophysics
Formation and age of the Arran central ring complex

Supervisors

Dr Andrew Kerr (Cardiff)

Kathryn Goodenough (British Geological Survey)

Description

Volcanological and petrogenetic research in the various eroded volcanic centres of the North Atlantic Palaeogene Igneous Province have greatly informed our understanding of processes in both caldera volcanoes and flood basalt magmatism (Bell & Williamson, 2002).

Arran is one of the UK’s classic geological locations, yet, surprisingly, it has been the subject of very limited published research over the last 50 years. The 15km2 Central Ring Complex of Arran is a Palaeogene volcanic centre containing evidence of explosive eruptions and caldera subsidence, followed by renewed volcanism on the caldera floor (King, 1955). The caldera includes a ~ 100 m thick sequence of basaltic to rhyolitic ignimbrites, indicating that major explosive eruptions took place in this caldera. The Arran Central Ring Complex is potentially unique in Britain because of its shallow level of exposure. This means that the relationships between the surface products, the caldera floor, the bounding faults and the sub-surface magma conduits can be directly observed. Given these unique circumstances, the project will entail a systematic and integrated volcanological, geochemical (major and trace elements and radiogenic isotopes) and geochronological approach to understanding both the petrogenesis and age of the complex and the processes, rates and timescales of caldera collapse.

The tuffs and breccias contain ‘megablocks’ of basalt and fossiliferous Jurassic-Cretaceous sedimentary rocks which were part of the original rock cover which shattered during caldera formation. It is however, possible that some of the sedimentary blocks are also early Palaeocene in age, which is highly significant given that most early Palaeocene sediments in western Britain were eroded prior to volcanism due to uplift caused by the arrival of the Icelandic mantle plume.

The project will involve detailed field mapping and sampling in Arran and major and trace element analysis at Cardiff, along with radiogenic isotope analysis (Sr, Nd, Pb and Hf) and radiometric dating (U-Pb and Ar-Ar) at the NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratories, in Keyworth.

These data will aid caldera models in active basalt-rhyolite volcanic settings such as Yellowstone-Snake River Plain, Iceland and the Afar, and there will be an opportunity during the project to visit and compare modern Icelandic analogues with Arran.

Training

The project will provide training in field geology, volcanology, petrology, geochemistry, geochronology and analytical techniques (ICP-MS and ICP-OES in Cardiff), together with isotope analyses and radiometric dating probably at the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratories and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre. The student will be part of a cross-School and group of staff, post-doctoral scientists and students working on global magmatic processes. The links with the BGS and Glasgow department will also enhance the student’s training.

Background reading

Bell, B.R., Williamson, I.T. 2002. Tertiary Igneous Activity. In: The geology of Scotland. (Trewin, N.H. ed.) p.371-407.

King, B.C. 1955. The Ard Bheinn area of the Central Igneous Complex of Arran. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 110, 323-356.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Cardiff

Contact details

Dr Andrew Kerr

Closing Date: 10th January

Spatial and temporal variation of Quaternary uplift rates from dating of cave deposits

Supervisors

Dr David A. Richards (University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences)

Dr Andrew R. Farrant (British Geological Survey)

Description

Quantifying how landscapes respond over time to environmental change is essential in order to obtain reliable estimates of surface and rock uplift. These are required for calibrating models of landscape evolution and tectonic uplift; modelling former ice sheets; deciphering fluvial terrace records; and designing nuclear waste repositories.

To do this, landforms need to be placed in a chronological framework. Dating surface landforms over Quaternary timescales is often hampered by weathering, surface erosion and the lack of datable material, especially in glaciated upland areas, an issue that becomes more acute further back in time. Fortunately, evidence for former landscapes and environments is often preserved underground in caves, by both passage morphology and cave sediments (Figure 1) including speleothems (Farrant et al., 1995). Moreover, caves can be precisely and accurately dated by U-Th and increasing U-Pb, cosmogenic and palaeomagnetic dating methods, from which landscape evolution rates can be calculated.

This study proposes to investigate Quaternary landscape evolution through the application of multiple dating techniques to cave deposits. The principal study area will be the South Wales karst (Ford, 1989). This region contains over 300 km of mapped cave passage which hold a wealth of information on landscape and climatic change. Recent dating of speleothems (Richards et al, unpublished data) from Ogof Draenen, Blaenavon demonstrates that this cave spans over 1.2 Ma and was in-filled with sediment during the Anglian glaciation. Other field sites in the UK and overseas will be considered.

The student will build upon previous studies of both cave and surface geomorphology, and apply dating methods to put these into chronological context by U-Th and U-Pb dating of speleothem, backed up by cosmogenic burial and palaeomagnetic dating of cave sediments. The student will be based at Bristol, with access to state of the art U-Th and U-Pb laboratories at Bristol and the British Geological Survey.

Location of field sites

The principal study area will be the caves and karst of South Wales and the Forest of Dean, where extensive cave systems such as Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, Dan yr Ogof and Agen Allewdd have been explored and mapped. This area has been chosen because of the significant extent of cave passage in this area, and because preliminary dating work indicates that caves in the region may be in excess of a million years old. Other sites in the UK may include the Mendips and Yorkshire. Depending on the applicant, other field sites may be chosen in northern Spain or in Gunung Mulu in Sarawak.

Research Objectives

The research will address several key research topics:

  • How fast do landscapes evolve – what are typical rates of valley incision, scarp retreat and surface uplift, and what is their spatial and temporal variability?
  • What is the speleogenetic response of conduit systems in karst aquifers to base-level fall; do caves respond by vadose incision or by phreatic under-capture?
  • Is there any evidence for pre-Devensian glaciations in upland regions of the UK?

Evidence for Middle Pleistocene glaciations are usually confined to lowland sites, and are rare in upland areas. Caves may preserve evidence for earlier glaciations.

Recommended reading

Ford, T. D. (Ed.). (1989). Limestones and caves of Wales. Cambridge University Press. Farrant, Andrew R.; Simms, Michael J.; Noble, Stephen R. 2013 Subterranean glacial spillways: an example from the karst of South Wales, UK. In: 16th International Congress of Speleology, Brno, Czech Republic, 21-28 July 2013. Prague, Czech Republic, Czech Speleological Society.

Farrant, A. R., Smart, P. L., Whitaker, F. F., & Tarling, D. H. (1995). Long-term Quaternary uplift rates inferred from limestone caves in Sarawak, Malaysia. Geology, 23(4), 357-360.

Farrant, A.R.; Simms, M.J.. 2011 Ogof Draenen : speleogenesis of a hydrological see-saw from the karst of South Wales. Cave and Karst Science, 38 (1). 31-52.

Simms, M. J., & Farrant, A. R. (2011). Landscape evolution in southeast Wales: evidence from aquifer geometry and surface topography associated with the Ogof Draenen cave system. Cave and karst science, 38(1).

See also South Wales Caves

Training

A successful applicant will develop a range of key skills in field, laboratory and geochronology environments. You will learn field surveying and sample collection techniques, landscape modelling and karst geomorphology, and be trained isotope geochronology including U-Th, U-Pb and cosmogenic isotope dating as a member of the Bristol Isotope Group, which runs in-house training courses on Mass-spectrometry: Nuts and Bolts, and the Statistics and Mass-Spectrometry. Fieldwork will involve working in caves, so a willingness to work underground is essential. Caving experience is not a pre-requisite, but some experience may be advantageous, and the applicant will be expected to join a caving club. The applicant will work closely with a team of karst specialists at the British Geological Survey near Nottingham, and with the Bristol Isotope Group. You will be based at Bristol University, but be expected to spend some time at the BGS headquarters in Keyworth, Nottingham.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Bristol

Contact Dr David A. Richards; Dr Andrew R. Farrant

Development of nascent arc lithosphere following subduction initiation: controls on post-axial magmatism in the Oman-UAE ophiolite

Supervisors

Professor Chris MacLeod (Cardiff University)

Dr David Schofield (British Geological Survey, Cardiff)

Dr Kathryn Goodenough (British Geological Survey Edinburgh)

Dr Johan Lissenberg (Cardiff University)

Description

The Oman-UAE ophiolite is often viewed as the classic example of oceanic crust formed at a fast-spreading mid-ocean ridge, directly comparable to modern spreading centres such as the East Pacific Rise. However, recent work by the supervisors of this project has demonstrated the pervasiveness of subduction-related geochemical signatures: the early part of the ophiolite sequence is shown to have formed at a spreading axis above a newly-forming subduction zone (MacLeod et al. 2013), then intruded by a (slightly) later, voluminous, subduction-related magmatic sequence that forms up to 50% of the crust in the northern part of the ophiolite (Goodenough et al. 2010).

Background reading

MacLeod, C J, Lissenberg, C J, Bibby, L E (2013): “Moist MORB” axial magmatism in the Oman ophiolite: The evidence against a mid-ocean ridge origin. Geology 41, 459-462.

Goodenough, K M, Styles, M T, Schofield, D, Thomas, R J, Crowley, Q C, Lilly, R M, McKervey, J, Stephenson, D, Carney, J N (2010): Architecture of the Oman-UAE ophiolite

Training

The student will have the opportunity to work in a superb natural laboratory with a fully exposed, easily accessed field area where structural and igneous relationships can be examined in 3D, and to gain training in many aspects of both structural and igneous geology. He/she will learn to use a variety of analytical techniques in the labs at Cardiff and BGS. He/she will also have access to training courses within both the BGS portfolio and GW4 DTP partnership, and will be part of strong cross-institute research groups in Cardiff focusing both on the development of oceanic crust and on subduction zone processes.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Cardiff

This project is eligible for funding through the NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership

Alternatively, this project is eligible for support from Cardiff University through the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences.

To apply, please visit the Cardiff University Postgraduate Research portal

Closing Date: 10th January 2014

Capable faulting in the UK: a reassessment

Supervisors

Prof Ken McCaffrey (Durham University)

Prof Bob Holdsworth(Durham University)

Dr Jonny Imber (Durham University)

Dr Maarten Krabbendam (British Geological Survey, Edinburgh)

Description

A capable fault can be defined as a structure that has significant potential for relative displacement at or near the ground surface. In the UK continental shelf (UKCS), the current tectonic regime reflects an interplay between far-field tectonic processes (ridge push, Alpine convergence), glacial unloading and near-field effects. This stress system is superimposed on the extremely diverse UK bedrock geology formed during Precambrian, Caledonian and Variscan convergent tectonics, Permian to Cretaceous rifting regimes through to Cenozoic uplift and denudation. The extent and nature of neotectonic activity in the UK is not resolved (Ringrose, 1989, Firth & Stewart 2000).

Preliminary studies using the high resolution NEXTMap British Digital Terrain Model dataset, have shown new evidence for the neotectonic reactivation of the Kinloch Hourn basement fault in Kintail. Evidence for geomorphic modifications adjacent to the fault line, drainage deflections and stream profile modifications are being investigated further. Building on this initial study, the aim of this PhD project is to constrain the potential for neotectonic fault reactivation in northern Scotland and develop a methodology that can be used across the UK.

Objectives

To map neotectonic (post-glacial) activity on new high resolution topographic datasets to re-examine the evidence for recent basement fault reactivation.

To ground truth geomorphic mapping using fieldwork.

To model the reactivation potential of a range of basement fault types constrained by experimental data from samples collected in the field.

Results from this project will enable a reassessment of neotectonic activity in northern Scotland and a revision of the catalogue of capable faults for the area. The experimental and modelling work will inform our understanding of how the present day stress regime interacts with pre-existing structures and the potential for fault reactivation in the UK and its continental shelf. The results will have direct impact for existing and potential infrastructure and resource projects in northern Scotland and broader implications for these projects both onshore and offshore through-out the UK. A generic methodology for assessing capable faulting will be established.

Methodology

Using NEXTMap Digital Terrain Model and SOCET aerial photogrammetry datasets, geomorphic mapping of northern Scotland will extend the preliminary work around Kintail to regions adjacent to the Great Glen Fault. These new geomorphic maps showing post-glacial fault activity in N. Scotland will be integrated with Seismic catalogues and landslide and other relevant datasets will be reassessed in the context of the new insights.

3D slip tendency modelling will be used to investigate the potential for movement on basement faults with different properties (orientation, friction coefficient, fluid pressures and loading depths) under varying differential stress magnitudes and orientations.

Fieldwork will be carried out to ground truth geomorphic mapping, laser scanning of selected examples and sampling of fault rocks for microscopy and experimental work.

Frictional and triaxial experiments on fault rock samples to constrain the mechanical properties of the basement fault zones.

Recommended reading

Ringrose, R.S., 1989. Recent fault movement and palaeoseismicity in western Scotland. Tectonophysics 163, 305-314.

Firth, C.R. & Stewart, I.S. 2000. Postglacial tectonics of the Scottish glacio-isostatic uplift centre, Quat. Sci. Rev., 19, 1469-1493

Yin, & Ranalli., 1989 J. Structural Geology, McCaffrey, K.J.W., Jones, R.R., Holdsworth, R.E., Wilson, R.W., Clegg, P., Imber, J., Holliman, N. & Trinks, I. 2005. Unlocking the spatial dimension: digital technologies and the future of geoscience fieldwork. J. Geological Society of London, 161, 927-938.

Holdsworth, R.E., van Diggelen, E.W.E., Spiers, C.J., de Bresser, J.H.P., Walker, R.J. & Bowen, L. (2011). Fault rocks from the SAFOD core samples: Implications for weakening at shallow depths along the San Andreas Fault, California. Journal of Structural Geology 33(2): 132-144.

Timeline

Year 1 – Remote sensing and initial fieldwork, Trial rock mechanics experiments.

Year 2 – Further Remote sensing, fieldwork, rock mechanics work and slip-tendancy analysis.

Year 3 – Final fieldwork, experiments and analysis.

Year 4 - Write-up and submission.

Training

Training will be provided in the following:

Geoinformatic methods & geomorphic mapping will be supported by BGS training and access to datasets and visualisation facilities.

Stress modelling and slip tendency analysis - training will be provided at Durham. Training in microscopy (incl SEM), and frictional and triaxial experiments will be carried out at the Rock mechanics laboratory in Durham.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – Newcastle

Groundwater
Understanding the interactions between adited sources and the Chalk aquifer under drought conditions, using the example of the River Colne Catchment and its groundwater sources

Supervisors

Andrew Hughes (British Geological Survey)

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet – Imperial College

Laboratories
The effects of climate induced flood events on the mobility and bioaccessibility of potentially harmful elements, biological and radiological contaminants

Supervisors

The project will be based in Dr David Copplestone’s research group at the University of Stirling, and additionally benefit from collaborative multi-disciplinary working with Dr Karen Johnson at Durham University and Dr Joanna Wragg at the British Geological Survey.

Description

Climate change is likely to have an influence on the lives of every citizen in the world. A key anticipated impact is an increase in extreme weather events, with the frequency of severe weather events, particularly flooding, increasing in the UK. Depending on frequency and magnitude, flooding can be either beneficial or detrimental, e.g. maintaining or enhancing soil fertility by depositing fresh layers of alluvium or increase potentially harmful elements (PHEs) mobility, originating from natural or anthropogenic sources. Flood-waters can redistribute contaminants such as sewage pathogens and radionuclides from soils and sediments, resulting in exposure and subsequent serious human and environmental health issues, as seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Human exposure occurs via direct ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation, and contaminant transfer to foodstuffs in urban and peri-urban agriculture systems is increasingly a problem.

A review of the relevant literature indicates an increase in contamination levels in soils and pore-water after flooding, and recent BGS pilot data shows that flooding events (or cycles of wetting and drying) can increase mobility of PHE (21% for As and U availability). However, most studies only consider absolute PHE concentrations, leaving considerable scope for improving our understanding of biogeochemical processes occurring during and after flood events.

Understanding the key biogeochemical processes related to contaminant mobility and redistribution during flooding events will have local, national and international impact, from the provision of advice to people growing food in urban allotments etc where flooding may occur, to providing improved understanding of the risks associated with flooding, thus providing an input into the wider debate on the significance of climate change. The research will input into the work of policy makers, land owners, regulators and risk assessors by helping them better understand the fate, transport and biogeochemical processes in floodplains as well as considering their impacts on human health and the environment.

Research aim

To provide essential new biogeochemical knowledge, for example, by characterising changes in the solid phase distribution and potential availability of chemical and biological contaminants before, during and after drying and wetting and using predictive and mechanistic modelling to improve our understanding of contaminant mobility, hazards and risks in floodplains and urban environments.

The project will test the hypothesis that soil flooding associated with climate change will cause ecological and human health impacts from contaminant and pathogen (re)mobilisation within soils affected by flooding in urban areas.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – University of Stirling

Training

Training will be provided covering a range of relevant generic skills and specialised skills including: data atollhandling; statistical analysis; paper and thesis writing; analytical chemistry; microbiology; radionuclide analysis; and, the use of risk assessment tools.

This is a CASE award studentship (£1000 pa) with £750 pa for Travel & Subsistence.

Investigating heterogeneity in crustal architecture and metamorphism in the Eastern Himalaya

Supervisors

Nick Roberts (British Geological Survey)

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Birmingham

Characterisation of Iron bioavailability from African soils - DTP with BGS-UoN

Supervisors

Dr Michael Watts (British Geological Survey)

Dr Scott Young (University of Nottingham)

Description

We have recently found convincing evidence that soil dust contamination of food is an important (non-haem) dietary source of iron in several sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. In rural Malawi, composite diet analysis (Siyame et al) of two villages and calculated food composition data were compared against iron biomarkers. Measured iron intake was greater than calculated intake, and highly correlated with Al and Ti indicating extraneous soil contamination. Less than 15% of women in the study had storage iron depletion, despite negligible intakes of haem-iron (meat source). In Ethiopia, similar observations have been cited from comparison of a dietary survey and national food composition tables (Prof. Ros Gibson, pers comm) and regionally from food balance sheets (Joy et al).

The aim of this proposal is to improve estimation of iron intake by including both intrinsic plant (IP-Fe) and extraneous soil (ES-Fe) sources as co-contributors to dietary iron. This will require the development of methods for (i) quantification of ES-Fe& IP-Fe in food sources and (ii) determination of the relative bioaccessibility of both Fe sources. For example, we shall employ Fe-57 isotopic labelling to distinguish between the two forms of Fe in test crops.

Mineral/morphological characterisation of external foliar/grain dust particles will determine which soil particles are likely to be retained and contribute to ES-Fe (e.g. SEM-Dr Fields, Synchrotron-Dr Button). The bioaccessibility of IP-Fe and ES-Fe will be assessed through a simulated gut method (BARGE-UBM) using correlation with Ti, Al and V to discriminate between the two forms. This approach will determine the main source of iron present at harvest and indicate whether processing (e.g. threshing grain) reduces or increases the ES-Fe contribution. To extend the study spatially we shall characterize the parameters which control the bioavailability of ES-Fe from different soil types (Malawi).

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

Envision (Lancaster University)

Contact details

Dr Michael Watts (British Geological Survey)

Dr Scott Young (University of Nottingham)

Development of a low-cost electrochemical field test for total arsenic contamination in drinking water

Supervisors

Dr Joanne Santini (Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology, UCL)

Dr Michael Watts (British Geological Survey)

Description

This project forms part of a larger effort (BBSRC funded) to meet real world needs by bringing innovative low-cost water contaminant tests to market. Specifically, the project aims to create a second generation low cost test for arsenic enabling a one-step test for total arsenic (arsenite plus arsenate). We have already been successful at creating a test for arsenite, however are acutely aware that a total arsenic measurement is required. Therefore, this project will use a unique arsenate reductase enzyme to create an electrochemical biosensor for arsenate and will involve its integration with the arsenite test into a single disposable test-strip. Dr Richard Johnston of the WHO and ex manager of arsenic mitigation projects in Bangladesh for UNICEF said " the technical improvements offered by this project are exciting, better reliability around 10 ppb, no mercury waste, quicker and simpler to use and a digital reader that is less influenced by personal judgments".

The aims of the project will be achieved in five work packages (WP). WP1 will focus on the production of the arsenate reductase enzyme that will be purified from E-coli. WP2 will involve the design and development of an arsenate electrochemical sensor using low-cost electrode materials suitable for scale-up manufacturing. WP3 will involve field trips to arsenic contaminated areas of the UK (Cornwall and the Parys mountain in N.Wales). Collected water samples will be used to test the analytical performance of the new arsenate test and results will be compared to ICP-MS (the gold standard laboratory technique for measuring arsenic concentrations). During WP4, the arsenate sensor will be integrated with the already developed arsenite sensor into a single test strip for measuring total arsenic levels in the field. Using a portable potentiostat (instrument used for making electrochemical measurements), field studies of the new test strip will be performed, either in the Rift Valley or Argentina (WP5). Test strip robustness and analytical performance will be studied.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

Grantham | Imperial College London

Contact details

Dr Joanne Santini (Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology, UCL)

Dr Michael Watts (British Geological Survey)

Dr Christopher Johnson (Imperial College)

Minerals & Waste
The role of F rich fluids in the development of Iron Oxide-Copper-Gold-(U-REE) deposits: the use of fluorite in tracing ore forming conditions and determining metal prospectivity

Supervisors

Dave Holwell (Leicester)

Jon Naden (British Geological Survey)

Description

IOCG deposits are currently major resources of Cu, Au, and a host of other metals, including rare earth elements (REE) and U. The Giant Olympic Dam deposit, and a number of deposits in the Cloncurry area (the focus of this project), are rich in F, and it is well known that U and REE can be transported as F- complexes. However, not all fluorite-rich U-REE mineralised systems contain Cu and Au, and several factors, including fluid sources, chemistry, temperatures and redox state are likely to determine whether such systems can host significant resources of Cu and Au and associated U and REE. A pilot study1 (in collaboration with Glencore) has shown that positive Eu anomalies in fluorite at Monakoff with high temperature fluid inclusions indicates high oxidation states of the hydrothermal system2 of a Cu and Au rich deposit.

This project will use fluorite REE geochemistry, and fluid inclusions from an extensive area around Cloncurry (and two other IOCG provinces in the world for comparison) as a tracer of ore forming processes and conditions, and as a tool for determining ore forming conditions conducive to Cu-Au-(U-REE), and vectoring in mineralised systems. The main aims are: (1) to test the hypothesis that deposits within each region formed from similar mineralising fluids and assess their regional extent, (2) gain information on the possible sources of the fluids, (3) identify the key geochemical signatures in fluorite indicative of specific conditions of IOCG mineralisation with regards to Cu, Au, U, REE, and other metal prospectivity and (4) provide implications for using the technique as a vectoring tool for IOCG prospectivity in the region and worldwide.

Objectives — This project will combine the following techniques to provide a thorough and scientifically sound project for the student:

  1. fieldwork in Cloncurry, Australia sampling in the field and through drill cores to gain the fundamental geological framework for the geochemical tests (in years 2 and 3, this is extended to the other testing grounds in South Australia and Minnesota);
  2. detailed mineralogy (SEM, 3D C-T scanning) to obtain crucial paragrenetic relationships in order that any differences in generation of fluorite and ore minerals are ascertained prior to the fluorite analysis, and also co-existing REE minerals;
  3. fluid inclusion microthermometry and PIXE/LA analysis to determine the key temperatures of formation (critical for interpreting Eu anomalies in fluorite) and compositions of the complex fluids.
  4. LA-ICP-MS analysis of fluorite to determine the REE geochemistry of fluorite from a wide range of deposits within the areas, and also different generations of fluorite within individual deposits. Eu anomalies will be used to determine redox conditions and normalised profiles (including Tetrad patterns) will be help define fluid compositions and possible sources (see 5)
  5. Bulk rock geochemistry to identify the REE patterns of potential source rocks for the fluids (e.g. local granite bodies) and model REE flux between sources and ore deposits.
  6. Using quantitative data from all the above, map out variations in fluid conditions across the regions and relate to potential source rocks and depths of emplacement.
  7. Deliverables are in three parts (which will form the basis of three papers that will form the major part of the thesis). A: a field and mineralogical classification of IOCG deposits in the region (Objectives 1 and 2); B: determination of the conditions of ore formation via the analysis of fluorite within each deposit (3,4); C: application of fluorite to wider questions of fluid sources, pathways and vectoring towards mineralised systems (5,6).

Although this is the first major application of the REE analysis of, and fluid inclusions within, fluorite in IOCGs, the pilot study has shown that the technique is successful and that it can be directly applies to determine oxidation states of the hydrothermal system2 and potentially the Cu and Au prospectivity of that system.

This project will essentially use fluorite as a tracer of hydrothermal fluid composition and conditions in IOCGs for the first time. Given the importance, globally of F-bearing IOCG systems, this project will develop a vital new technique in the understanding and exploration for further resources of REE-U-bearing IOCGs.

Recommended reading

  1. McGloin M 2013 SGA Ext Abstr 4p;
  2. Bau M 1991 Chem Geol 93 219-230

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA - Leicester

The relationship of gold mineralisation to ocean crust structures and hydrothermal systems in the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus

Supervisors

Dr Hazel Prichard - School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University.

Professor Chris MacLeod - School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University.

Professor Tom Blenkinsop - School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University.

Dr Ben Williamson - Camborne School of Mines, Exeter University

Dr Jon Naden - British Geological Survey

Professor Richard Herrington – Natural History Museum.

Description

The aim of this project is to locate gold in different parts of the hydrothermal system in the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus and so understand the processes that concentrate it into ore. Gold has been known in Cyprus for hundreds of years and was mined in the 1980s; however its distribution, origin and extent are poorly understood. In the light of recent advances in understanding the hydrothermal fluid circulation at mid-ocean ridges and marginal basins, and consequent volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) mineralisation, it is timely to re-examine the controls on gold mineralisation in Cyprus.

The Troodos ophiolite is an excellent area to study VMS-related gold mineralisation as the oceanic upper crustal sequence is extremely well preserved and exposed. We have recently re-examined the upper crustal structure of the ophiolite and its original seafloor topography, faulting pattern and volcanic architecture. On this basis we have a well-constrained context for understanding the tectonic and magmatic controls on the hydrothermal system, from its root zones deep in the crust up to the variably gold enriched sea-surface VMS, ochres, umbers and late silica-rich vein systems.

The proposed research will constrain the location of the gold with respect to the geometry of the upper oceanic crust, the main volcanic centres and the fault systems that formed as the newly formed oceanic crust moved away from the spreading centre. This research will have implications for improving the search for these types of gold deposit in other ophiolite complexes and modern ocean-floor systems.

Recommended reading

Prichard, H.M. & Maliotis, G., 1998, Au mineralisation associated with low temperature, off-axis fluid activity in the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus. Journal Geological Society London 155, 223-231.

Schmincke, H.-U.; Rautenschlein, M.; Robinson, P.T. & Mehegan, J.M., 1983. Troodos extrusive series of Cyprus: A comparison with oceanic crust. Geology 11, 405-409.

Training

The student will be trained in field mapping and sampling in Cyprus, especially in collection and interpretation of structural data; also in analytical techniques including whole-rock geochemical analysis of gold (by ICP-MS), and mineral analysis using the scanning electron microscope and laser-ablation ICP-MS at Cardiff University. Fine gold will be located using the QEMSCAN® at the University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines. With the aid of expertise in sea floor alteration mineralogy at the Natural History Museum the student will use a portable XRD to determine the distribution of high and low temperature clays associated with the gold-bearing veins, giving an indication of the heat capacity of mineralising fluids. At the British Geological Survey the student will measure the temperature and type of fluid inclusions in the quartz associated with the different generations of gold mineralisation. Also they will have access to both their airborne thematic mapper data base and high resolution digital LiDAR elevation model data for the northern lava sequences in Troodos; an excellent proxy for paleobathymetry. All this will assist in the understanding of the distribution of the gold with respect to the different structures within this fossil oceanic crust. The gold will be identified on two scales, both as a map of the occurrence of gold in the upper crust of the Troodos ophiolite, and on a petrological scale with the host mineral associations for the gold. From all this, the student will develop models for the different processes that concentrate the gold in a variety of hosts within in the hydrothermal system in the upper part of the oceanic crust.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Bristol/Cardiff

Geothermal Potential of Lower Carboniferous Strata

Supervisors

John Busby

Description

Geothermal waters from depth in the UK have the potential to supply significant quantities of renewable heat that can be utilised for heating and agricultural purposes. Many of the Permo-Triassic sandstones are known to be good aquifers and where these occur at depths of 2 to 3 km the water, or brine, contained within the pore space is hot enough for geothermal heating applications. However, this occurrence is only found in the main Mesozoic sedimentary basins. Many of the main urban centres overlie Carboniferous rocks at depth where any permeability is most likely to be via fracture flow. Examples of long ranging permeable pathways to depth within the Carboniferous Limestone are known from the warm springs at Bath/Bristol and the Derbyshire Peak District. It is also known that there have been several periods of palaeokarst formation that have affected Lower Carboniferous and Permian strata in the geological past that may be buried beneath younger strata. This studentship aims to undertake a thorough assessment of the geothermal potential of Carboniferous strata with a particular focus on the Lower Carboniferous. The proposed research program will map the subcrop of the Lower Carboniferous to determine the extent and impact of palaeokarst upon secondary permeability and also to predict where palaeokarst occurs at sufficient depth within Lower Carboniferous strata such that it could supply thermal waters suitable for geothermal exploitation. In addition the hydrogeochemistry of Carboniferous waters will be investigated to assess their energy potential.

Training

This studentship is offered through the IAPETUS Doctoral Training Partnership with the BGS as the CASE partner. The student would be registered at Durham University but would spend time at Newcastle University and the BGS. Training activities are offered by the CeREES Centre for Geoenergy at Durham University through a programme of events, lectures and fieldtrips and at Newcastle University from the Earth Systems Science, Engineering and Management research portfolio. At the BGS, the student would have access to the extensive archives of core and data. Further information is available at https://www.dur.ac.uk/iapetus/

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS - Newcastle

Earth observation for advanced geoscience modelling – the Tellus South West airborne high resolution geophysical, multispectral and LiDAR survey

Supervisors

Paul Lusty, Minerals and Waste, British Geological Survey

Robin Shail, Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

Stephen Grebby, Earth Hazards and Observatories, British Geological Survey

Paul Williamson, Geology and Regional Geophysics, British Geological Survey

Description

NERC has invested £1.7m in a comprehensive high-resolution airborne survey of South West England (Tellus South West). These new data include magnetic, radiometric, multispectral and LiDAR. The project will interrogate these new data against, and integrate them with, existing datasets in order to develop an enhanced geoscience model for South West England. Principal aspects of geological evolution being addressed include Devonian-Carboniferous passive margin stratigraphy and development, Variscan/post-Variscan deformation, granite magmatism, Permo-Triassic sedimentation, mineralisation and the legacy of these processes for Cenozoic-Recent landscape evolution and near surface processes.

Stakeholders requiring improved geoscience models of South West England include those associated with: (i) renewed mineral exploration for base (e.g. tin, copper) and ‘critical’ metals (e.g. tungsten, Wolf Minerals - Hemerdon); (ii) development of deep (4–5 km) proof-of-concept geothermal systems targeting major fault zones within granite; (iii) evaluating structurally-controlled landslides in ‘hard rock’ coastal zones.

The principal elements of the project are:

  1. Integration of the new and legacy data, i.e. regional geochemistry, bedrock and superficial mapping, land-based gravity, to produce innovative geological maps and interpretations for the region.
  2. Use of novel approaches for spatial data analysis, interrogation, filtering, modelling, visualisation and fusion of multi-resolution and multi-source geological data to emphasise patterns and associations. Of particular interest is the application of the new LiDAR data for enhanced and automated lithological and structural mapping [e.g. 1]. South West England provides an opportunity to test this approach in a well-vegetated terrane with less pronounced topographic variation – something that limits the applicability of conventional remote sensing approaches.
  3. Ground-based verification of the results of the data analysis and mapping, for selected areas with contrasting geology;
  4. Development of regional scale prospectivity models [e.g. 2] and quantitative resource assessments for this world class mineral province, based upon a range of techniques (e.g. logistic regression, artificial neural networks). This project offers the first chance to undertake research on the new data and a unique opportunity to work on one of the best surveyed parts of the planet. Datasets produced by this study (e.g. digital terrain models, lineament and fracture density maps) will have wide ranging and novel applications (e.g. hydrogeological and environmental modelling), which could inform the attribution of 3D models of the region at a variety of scales. The project will provide the student will excellent data interpretation, numerical and modelling skills – some of the most desirable skills for the next generation of environmental scientists.

Recommended reading

[1] Grebby S et al, 2010. Lithological mapping of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus, using airborne LiDAR topographic data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 114, 713–724. [2] Lusty PAJ et al, 2012. Reconnaissance-scale prospectivity analysis for gold mineralisation in the Southern Uplands-Down-Longford Terrane, Northern Ireland. Natural Resources Research, 21, 359–382.

Training

BGS is a global leader in geoscience technologies and Earth and planetary observation and mapping that helps to build and populate 3D and 4D models. The student will receive training in remotely sensed and geophysical data processing, fusion, interpretation and numerical modelling, using the suite of specialist software packages and facilities utilised by the BGS Earth & Planetary Observation and Monitoring Team (e.g. ENVI Erdas Imagine, Surfer, GeoVisionary 3D suite). In addition, training will be given in the Geosoft geophysical interpretation package and ArcGIS software. The student will be exposed to geochemical data interpretation and aspects of structural/tectonic geology and mineral deposit geology. The student will develop a detailed understanding of the geology of the South West through working alongside geologists who have spent the majority of their career focussed on this area. Field skills will be developed during an introductory fieldtrip, designed to familiarise the student with the general geology of the region and whilst ground truthing the mapping/modelling results.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - CSM

Timing of Cu-Au-Te-PGE porphyry-style mineralisation in northern Greece and Bulgaria and its relationship to metamorphic core complex exhumation

Supervisors

Frances Cooper, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol

Jon Naden, Minerals and Waste, British Geological Survey

Dan Condon, NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory

Adamantios Kilias, University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Stephanos, Kilias, University of Athens, Greece

Description

The increasing global interest and investment in green technologies such as wind turbines, solar energy collectors, and electric cars, has created new demand for previously underutilized elements such as Te and Se for photovoltaic energy production and platinum group elements (PGE) for autocatalytic convertors and fuel cells. These elements are commonly enriched in areas of Cu, Mo, or Au mineralisation associated with high-level potassic and calc-alkaline magmatism. Typically, the anatomy of this mineralisation at the deposit scale is porphyry and epithermal in style, but on a regional scale, enrichment in Te, Se, and PGE appears to be connected with post-subduction high-K to shoshonitic magmatism. Thus, a key area for research is to understand the regional geodynamic setting for this mineralisation; in particular, the generation and timing of fertile magmas and the structural pathways that control their emplacement. Advances in this field will significantly aid mineral resource exploration through the development of new genetic models for this relatively poorly understood mineral deposit type.

A globally important region for porphyry- and epithermal-style Cu-Au-Te-PGE deposits is the Rhodope Massif of northern Greece and southern Bulgaria (Figs. 1-3), which forms the hinterland to the Hellenic orogen [1]. The PhD will focus on a detailed geo- and thermochronology study of the emplacement, mineralisation and exhumation of the Moronia–Sappes–Leptokaria magmatic corridor in NE Greece, a sequence of Eocene–Miocene mineralised and barren subvolcanic plutons plus the Biala Reka–Kekros Dome, part of the Rhodope metamorphic core complex into which the plutons are intruded [e.g. 2]. Key research questions to be addressed are: (1) How does magma petrogenesis influence magma metal fertility, (2) how does the timing and duration of mineralization processes affect the size of mineral deposits and (3) can rates of exhumation and erosion be used to determine regional potential for ore deposit preservation.

The PhD will involve two field seasons in the Rhodope Massif, a programme of laboratory work that includes trace element geochemistry, geo- and thermochronology (U-Pb, Ar-Ar, (U-Th)/He) and computer modelling. The project will provide excellent research training in field skills, analytical techniques and numerical analysis. Work will be primarily undertaken at the University of Bristol and the British Geological Survey, with potential for visits to other laboratories for additional analyses. Fieldwork support will also be provided by experts in the Universities of Thessaloniki and Athens.

Recommended reading

[1] Voudouris, 2006, Min. & Pet., v. 87, p. 241–275. [2] Marton et al., 2001, Tectonophysics, v. 483, p. 240–254.

Training

The student will receive training in field skills appropriate for a career in mineral exploration, they will receive training in a range of laboratory skills with an option to undertake numerical modelling of the data. At the University of Bristol they will have access to state of the art optical microscopy, electron microprobe and SEM, as well as IR and Raman spectroscopy. They will be trained to use these as part of the project and as well as preparing the student for further progression in geological research, these skills are highly transferable to a range of other academic and industrial career paths. They would also have the opportunity to interact with the BHP Billiton research group, which is investigating the links between volcanism, tectonics, and mineralisation in order to better understand the formation of porphyry copper deposits in the central Andes.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Bristol

Tracing the source and evolution of arsenic-laden magmatic-hydrothermal fluids, and their ability to transport critical metals: a case study in the granite complex of the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland

Supervisors

Dr. Kathryn Moore (University of Exeter)

Prof. Frances Wall (University of Exeter)

Mr Paul Lusty (British Geological Survey)

Description

Rare earths and indium are critical metals required for the development of low-carbon energy and other modern technologies. They come from a small number of mines in just a few geographical locations, and thus are at high risk of supply disruption1. The Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland, provides a natural laboratory to investigate how economic concentrations of these critical metals can develop in a geological context that has not previously been investigated. The project aims to predict where new sources may be located so that continued supply to industry can be ensured.

REE anomalies in the Tellus data for deep soil compositions correlate with arsenic and manganese anomalies that have been attributed to fluid processes overprinting critical metal enriched granites2. The figure below shows that anomalies in the Tellus data include isolated Mn anomalies that overlap with Ce anomalies (a) and large Nb anomalies across the eastern Mournes (b), which overlap with a substantial As anomaly at Pollaphuca (c). Granite (e) is progressively replaced with a cassiterite-monazite-bearing assemblage associated with microveining (f) and subsequently a metasomatic rock with an abundant polymorph of silica (74.3 vol %) containing up to 1.5 wt% In2O3 and 1.1 wt% SnO2 and a variety of As-dominated minerals including arsenoflorencite-(La): (La,Ce,Nd)(Al,Fe)3(PO4,AsO4)2(OH)6.The research will characterise: 1, the source(s) of REE and indium in replacement and vein mineralisation, and 2, the properties of fluids leading to chemical zoning and selective crystallization of arsenic-, tin/indium- and REE-minerals. Arsenic- and manganese-bearing minerals in drusy granite and pegmatite roof zones will be studied to help constrain the contribution from magmatic fluids to hydrothermal mineralisation. The PhD student will receive training in the utilisation of Tellus data to assist fieldwork in Northern Ireland under the guidance of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (Case Partner). Subsequently, s/he will receive training in state-of-the-art techniques of whole rock and mineral analysis at the Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter, including QEMSCAN® analysis to constrain the distribution of critical metals and their mineralogical hosts. These studies will provide a framework for fluid inclusion investigations at the British Geological Survey to establish the changing nature of the fluids responsible for metasomatism and replacement from the As-dominated core of mineralisation to those associated with magmatism in host granite.

The project is based primarily at the Camborne School of Mines but forms part of the Critical Metals Alliance between the University of Exeter and the British Geological Survey.

Recommended reading

  1. Strategic Energy Technologies: Assessing rare metals as supply-chain bottlenecks in low-carbon energy technologies/ JRC Scientific and Technical Report EUR 24884 EN – 2011 http://setis.ec.europa.eu/newsroom-items-folder/jrc-report-on-criticalmetals-in-strategic-energy-technologies
  2. Moore et al, 2013. Unpublished report (reference number 10761; http://www.tellusborder.eu/Research/) for tendered project ‘Critical Metal potential of the Mourne Mountains: the geological source of REE, Nb, Ta, W and U anomalies - insights from Tellus data’

Training

  • Training in utilisation and interpretation of Tellus data (computer based) to aid fieldwork activities (BGS and GSNI). Dr. Marie Cowan will oversee the student placement with the GSNI (Case Partner), organise training in Northern Ireland and attend PhD management meetings.
  • Training in state-of-the-art analytical geochemistry of whole rocks and minerals at the Camborne School of Mines. Facilities that will be used include petrological microscopes with cathudoluminescence, XRD, XRF, ICP-MS and various electron microbeam instruments – SEM, EPMA and QEMSCAN®.
  • Training in fluid inclusion microthermometry techniques using a Linkam heating-freezing stage at BGS. Dr Jon Naden of the BGS is committed to providing fluid inclusion training and interpretation.
  • Training in the interpretation of analytical data, largely at the Camborne School of Mines.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Bristol

NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL)
Deep Sea Temperature and Ice Volume Change across the Mid-Pleistocene Climate Transition: Insights from the Bering Sea

Supervisors

Dr Sindia Sosdian (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University)

Dr Sev Kender, (British Geological Survey)

Professor Ian R. Hall (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University)

Professor Melanie Leng (British Geological Survey)

Description

The transition of Earth’s glacial-interglacial (G-IG) cycles from ~40 ka to ~100 ka periodicity during the middle Pleistocene (the so called Mid-Pleistocene Transition, MPT, ~1.2–0.6 Ma) marks one of the largest climate events of the Cenozoic. Yet the causal mechanisms for this transition are still controversial, as there was no long-term shift in Earth’s orbital insolation to account for the lengthening glacial cycles and global cooling, and therefore there continues to be debate about the nature of the feedbacks and teleconnections that drove this transition. This is largely due to a lack of detailed, high-resolution climate proxy information from critical regions on the planet, with which proposed hypotheses can be tested. Two of the major hypotheses infer changes to North American Ice Sheet (NAIS) dynamics and northern hemisphere sea ice, for which the subarctic N. Pacific is a critical and largely un-sampled region. This project aims to develop high-resolution proxy records of benthic foraminiferal Mg/Ca - Bottom Water Temperature (BWT), stable oxygen (δ18O) and carbon isotopes (δ13C), and δ18O composition of seawater (δ18Oseawater, related to salinity) across the MPT from Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme (IODP) Expedition 323, Site U1343 from the Bering Sea (Fig.1).

The trajectory of ice volume and BWT across the MPT are critical to quantify the extent of global cooling and concomitant increase in ice volume on millennial and orbital time scales and provide insights into ice age variability. Two existing high-resolution benthic foraminiferal Mg/Ca BWT records from the N. Atlantic (Sosdian and Rosenthal, 2009) and S. Pacific (Elderfield et al. 2012) suggest significant changes in ice sheets. The N. Atlantic record shows that deep ocean cooling from ~1.15 to 0.82 Ma precedes the major expansion of ice sheets and the frequency shift from 41 ka to ~100 ka glaciations at ~0.9-0.7 Ma, thereby suggesting that the MPT was a fundamental change in NH ice-sheet dynamics. However, the site used by Sosdian and Rosenthal (2009) likely represents a regional signal and there were potentially large swings in water masses, along with changes in carbonate chemistry, which have been suggested to influence the epifaunal Mg/Ca ratios in this study. The Pacific Ocean record, derived from shallow infaunal species, suggests that the increase in ice volume is related to the expansion of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in contrasts to previous hypotheses and the N. Atlantic record. Confirmation and support of the existing records and hypotheses requires generation of high-resolution temperature records from sights proximal to the ice sheets. The new Mg/Ca-BWT record from Site U1343 will be based on shallow infaunal benthic foraminifera Uvigerina and will provide a BWT record independent of large swings in seawater chemistry and possibly ocean circulation. Comparison of these records with ongoing efforts to uncover the history of NAIS growth and instability over the MPT, by e.g. generating a millennial-scale IRD record (as Site U1343 records Cordilleran Ice Sheet instability), will allow the studentship to test the changing relationship between glaciations and NAIS instability.

Training

The student will be trained in high-resolution quantitative palaeoclimate reconstruction. This will include stable isotope geochemistry (oxygen and carbon) and trace element geochemistry (e.g. Mg/Ca palaeothermometry). It is envisaged that the student would be able to gain sea-going experience.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Cardiff

Contact details

Dr Sindia Sosdian

Professor Ian Hall

Closing Date: 10th January 2014

This project is eligible for funding through the NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership

Alternatively, this project is eligible for support from Cardiff University through the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences.

To apply, please visit the Cardiff University Postgraduate Research portal

Assessing the Radiological Impact of Atmospheric Discharges: The Effect of Secular Disequilibrium caused by Industrial NORM

Supervisors

David Read (Loughborough)

Matt Horstwood (NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory-British Geological Survey)

Description

Anthropogenic contributions to radiological dose from nuclear weapons testing and high profile nuclear accidents, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, are well documented. However, the volume of radioactive waste created each year by the nuclear industry is dwarfed by that from other sources, notably the production and combustion of fossil fuels and exploitation of industrial minerals (IAEA 2003). The paucity of scientific information to inform policy decisions from these activities and its fragmentary nature is a major cause for concern. Thus, while problems associated with industrial NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) have now been recognised (revised International and Euratom Basic Safety Standards (IAEA GSR Part 3 (Interim) 2011a) and EC COM 2012), targeted research is needed to determine source terms, exposure pathways and the radiological impacts on humans and biota. An enhanced scientific basis for predicting the impact of industrial radiation sources would remove much of the ambiguity surrounding current epidemiological investigations (e.g. leukaemia ‘clusters’).

Uranium present in environmental media may be either natural or anthropogenic in origin. Depletion or enrichment in the 235U/238U ratio with respect to its natural abundance is conventionally taken to be indicative of contamination from nuclear and military sources, respectively. Recent work by the PI (Read et al. 2013) has shown that certain industrial processes involving volatilisation of mineralised ores can produce a similar effect. This project will characterise the suite of samples already collated from stack sampling by inter alia state of the art LA-(MC-)ICP-MS in terms of bulk composition, isotopic disequilibrium, particle size and shape to further evaluate the consequences of dust inhalation.

Re-suspension processes will disperse dusts over a variety of scales dependent primarily on particle size. The finer fractions (PM2.5s and PM10s), with a significant inhalation risk, are known to pre-concentrate radon daughters (210Pb, 210Po) and provide the main transport mechanism for radionuclides volatilised during industrial processes or accidents. These invariably carry a forensic signature, which can be accessed via air sampling followed by dissolution and alpha spectrometry. Preliminary trials at an integrated steel works with substantial lead and polonium emissions have demonstrated the feasibility of the approach. The works forms part of an ongoing industrial PhD with Tat Steel.

Significant enrichment of 210Pb and 210Po is known to occur in dusts collected downwind from several stacks but, to date, almost nothing is known concerning higher members of the decay chain. Further, the wider impact of the atmospheric discharges has yet to be assessed. This project aims to characterise the isotopic signature of particulate emissions from several NORM industries in addition to iron & steel (coal, petroleum, cement, non-metalliferous mineral processing). A current Loughborough-NIGL PhD studentship is developing the capability for determining the isotopic composition of sub-micron U particles using LA-MC-ICP-MS. Through this proposal, a PhD researcher will be trained in this as well as radiochemical techniques, to demonstrate compositional variability in environmental and industrial NORM samples.

This project complements on-going current research within NIGL and that of the ‘Radioactive Waste’ and ‘Geochemical Baselines and Medical Geology’ teams within BGS, involving close collaboration between university researchers (Loughborough & Leicester), BGS-NIGL and industry partners. The successful student will gain invaluable experience of air/dust sampling and a wide range of analytical techniques (including LA-MC-ICP-MS, alpha and gamma spectrometry. He/she will be given ample opportunities to present the research results at national (e.g. COGER) and international symposia.

Recommended reading

N.S. Lloyd, R.R. Parrish, M.S.A. Horstwood and S.R.N. Chenery, 2009. Precise and accurate isotopic analysis of microscopic uranium-oxide grains using LA-MC-ICP-MS. J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 24, 752–758.

D. Read, G.D. Read and M.C. Thorne, 2013. Background in the context of land contaminated with naturally occurring radioactive material. J. Radiol. Prot. 33 367.

Training

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Loughborough

Spatial scaling of hydrothermal vent food webs across the global ocean

Supervisors

Prof. Nicholas VC Polunin (Newcastle University)

Dr Sarah A Bennett (British Geological Survey)

Dr Benjamin D Wigham (Newcastle University)

Dr Christopher Sweeting (Newcastle University)

Description

The phenomenal faunal biomass of hydrothermal vents in the otherwise food-limited deep sea is sustained by chemosynthetic production through both free-living bacteria and the more synonymous bacterial symbiosis. Vents are frontier environments providing new avenues of research into the origins of life on Earth, interactions between biodiversity and ecosystem function, and have great potential for bio-prospecting of high temperature compounds for medicine and industry. Vents occur as discrete ‘island’ habitats of varying productivity often separated at different spatial scales by natural barriers resulting in high species endemism (commonly 70% of species). Hydrothermal processes result in the deposition of mineral wealth (Fig. 1) such that these systems are under imminent pressure of commercial exploitation and unlike with fishing, a small window remains to gain some understanding of these unique systems pre-impact. There is currently no over-arching framework within which responses to environmental change might be understood, for example: at what scale of impact might interventions such as mining be expected to lead to irreversible change in the community and food-web structure of these unique deep-sea ecosystems? An initial requirement is to first understand the geological and chemical controls on the trophic structure of these systems before we can determine the effect of human impact. As such, this project will investigate the trophic dynamics of two distinct hydrothermal systems: One on the East Scotia Ridge (ESR) in the Southern Ocean and one on the South West Indian Ridge (SWIR).

In 2009 the first exploration of vent sites in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters led to the recent identification of over 30 new genera and species unique to deep vents (2400m, Fig. 1) on the ESR. This unique community structure suggests Antarctic vent ecosystems represent a totally new vent biogeographic province (Fig 2). In 2011 new vents were identified on the South West Indian Ridge (SWIR) that exhibit both taxonomic similarities and differences to the ESR and other circum-Antarctic ridge sites. Comparison between these two sites and variability within a site will enable us to explore the structure and function of these systems at multiple ecological scales from zonation within individual chimneys, through chimney clusters, vent fields, ridge segments, across ocean basins and among oceans.

Drawing on a unique archive of samples collected by Newcastle University (NU) and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOC) and further analyses using NERC facilities at the BGS, the student will use carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and sulphur (S) stable isotope signatures to expand our current understanding of the trophic ecology of fauna from the ESR and draw comparison with the SWIR. The student will describe the structure and related function of the chemosynthetically driven vent communities and how they vary at spatial scales from metres to 1000s km across the longitudinal gradient of circum-Antarctic ridges. Trophic understanding will be expanded using fatty acid biomarkers that provide complementary information on food sources (Stevens et al. 2008). The student will: 1) describe how trophic functions vary within chimneys on the ESR, 2) examine to what extent vent fluid chemistry determines this trophodynamics, 3) assess how trophic roles of species or congenerics vary across ecological scales from among sites on the ESR to the Indian Ocean circum-Antarctic ridges, and 4) develop function and trait based analyses that describe general structuring rules for vent systems and describe functional equivalence (or lack thereof) among vent sites. There will be significant opportunities to explore and take up opportunities outwith this outline, including drawing on data available from other sites (e.g. Cayman Trench, E Pacific Rise and Mid-Atlantic ridge systems), involvement in relevant future research cruises, detailed ecological modeling of drivers of spatial differences and scaling of trophic dynamics and simulation of potential impacts of future environmental change.

Recommended reading

Arico S, Salipin C (2005) Bioprospecting of Genetic Resources in the Deep Seabed: Scientific, Legal and Policy Aspects. United Nations University (http://www.ias.unu.edu/binaries2/DeepSeabed.pdf)

Bachraty C, Legrende P, Desbruyères D (2009) Biogeographic relationships among hydrothermal vent faunas on a global scale. Deep Sea Res Part 1 Oceanogr Res Pap 56: 1371–1378. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr.2009.01.009.

International Seabed Authority (2011) Environmental management of deep-sea chemosynthetic ecosystems: justification of and considerations for a spatially-based approach (Technical study; no. 9), 79pp, ISBN 978-976-95268-9-1

Rogers, A.D., et al. (2012) The discovery of new deep-sea hydrothermal vent communities in the Southern Ocean and implications for biogeography, PloS Biology, 10(1) e1001234. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001234.

Qiu J (2011) Indian Ocean vents challenge ridge theory 'Football fields' of vents among the largest known.Nature News (20 December 2011) | doi:10.1038/nature.2011.9689

Stevens CJ et al. (2008). Ontogenetic shifts in the trophic ecology of two alvinocaridid shrimp species at hydrothermal vents on the Mariana Arc, western Pacific Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 356: 225-237

Timeline

YR1 HYr1 NU research students induction, agreed formal teaching, initial supervisions, refining work plan, preliminary literature review

YR1 HYr2 Two months at BGS, sample and data acquisition, preparation, planning and design of new analyses, submissions to NIGL and LSMSF Bristol, agreed formal teaching

YR2 HYr1 Data analysis, visits to LSMSF and SAMS, revise thesis plan, postgrad conference at NU, DSBS conference Portugal

YR2 HYr2 Two months at BGS, first paper drafted, possible cruise

YR3 HYr1 Revise thesis plan, data analyses and interpretation, postgraduate conference at NU, visits to LSMSF and SAMS

YR3 HYr2 One month at BGS, ASLO conference Hawaii attendance, second paper drafted, first thesis data chapter completed

YR4 HYr1 NU postgraduate conference, first draft of thesis completed, first paper(s) published

YR4 HYr2 Complete thesis, submit thesis, NU viva exam

Training

The NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory based at BGS will provide teaching and training in Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry and data interpretation. The student will also acquire data analysis skills through existing ecological modelling (e.g. Newcastle’s BIO3003) and related (e.g. Newcastle’s MST8023) modules. The student will acquire training in compound specific fatty acid analysis through collaboration with Dr David Pond at SAMS and the NERC Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility at Bristol. Both of the NERC facilities require an application to the steering committee and this will provide the student with initial exposure to the grant writing process. The student will be supported through this process to optimise the potential success of the application. Other less disciplinary but nevertheless important skills (e.g. project planning and management, scientific writing including proposals) will be gained through the extensive supervisory team and/or other specialist modules at Newcastle University. BGS also provide learning and development opportunities with a number of different courses under the sub-headings: writing and communication skills, workplace and interpersonal skills, scientific skills and IT skills. The student will have the further opportunity under supervision to extend into other approaches e.g. ecological modeling (in collaboration with School of Biology, NU) that provide further insight into system structure and function and the trophodynamics of constituent fauna.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

IAPETUS – Newcastle

Contact details

Prof. Polunin Tel 0191 208 6675

Dr Bennett Tel 0115 936 3426

Dr Wigham Tel 0191 208 3054

Dr Sweeting Tel 0191 208 6658

Understanding groundwater controls on microbial metabolic activity, biogeochemical cycling and associated greenhouse gas production in streambed sediments

Supervisors

Dr Stefan Krause (University of Birmingham)

Dr Daren Gooddy (British Geological Survey)

Dr Sarah Bennett (NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratories – British geological Survey)

Description

Mass balances of global carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles do not currently include potential turnover at the streambed interface between groundwater and surface water because their landscape wide importance is largely unknown. In this interdisciplinary project jointly supervised by UoB, BGS and NIGL researchers, you will apply cutting-edge sensing and tracing technologies to investigate the hydrological controls on integrated streambed C, N and oxygen (O) cycles and associated greenhouse gas productions from hyporheic and benthic sediments. You will pioneer the combined application of Fibre-optic Distributed Temperature Sensing, passive pore-water sampling, isotopic tracers and smart tracer technologies for quantifying microbial metabolic activity in streambed sediments and their contribution to C, N and O turnover and associated greenhouse gas production. Research will focus on the Rivers Lambourn (Berkshire) and Tern (Shropshire), representing characteristic Chalk and Sandstone rivers in the UK.

In addition to becoming expert in nutrient dynamics and the use of isotopic and distributed sensing methods you will benefit from being integral part of the vital research environment at the Birmingham Water Sciences group and the BGS Groundwater Science Directorate. This includes the wide ranging support and research training programmes of the CENTA PGR consortium as well as international training opportunities within the EU-FP7 funded INTERFACES Initial Training Network lead by the UoB.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Birmingham

Geochronology and geochemistry of the large Werner Batholith, Antarctic Peninsula: interpreting the tectonic framework of a continental margin

Supervisors

Dr Dan Condon (NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratories – British Geological Survey)

Dr Teal Riley (British Antarctic Survey)

Prof. Jon Blundy (University of Bristol)

Description

General research outline

There is a positive correlation between the volume and duration of pluton development; such that a large pluton will have a longer construction time and smaller plutons will have far quicker construction times. A consequence of this is that plutonic magma fluxes are comparable from one geodynamic context to another.

Smaller plutons will record little about the tectonic conditions that prevailed at the time of emplacement, whereas large scale plutons will preserve regional deformation events throughout the growth phase (several Myr) of the intrusion. The pulsed nature of plutonism will be recorded in larger plutons and will provide information on the composition and thermal regime of the source region, such that long-lived, pulsed magmatism in a continental margin setting can provide a proxy for lithospheric and magmatic processes along the convergent margin.

Antarctic project

The mid Cretaceous Lassiter Coast Intrusive Suite (LCIS) of the Antarctic Peninsula was intruded over an area of 80,000 km2 with a pluton area of at least 13,000 km2. The geodynamic setting of the Antarctic Peninsula in the mid Cretaceous was one of transpressional deformation (Vaughan et al., 2012). The LCIS was intruded during a 2-phase (107 and 103 Ma) orogenic event called the Palmer Land Event; phase 1 was a sinistral transpressional event and phase 2 was a dextral transpressional event.

The LCIS is a voluminous suite of mafic to felsic calc-alkaline plutons with a significant peak in plutonic activity in the interval 105 – 110 Ma. Rock types range from gabbro to granite, although granodiorite-tonalite predominates. The suite consists of one major batholith, the Werner batholith, (225 x 50 km) and >100 smaller stocks and plutons.

Student’s role

The studentship will be responsible for the accurate dating of the granitoids of the LCIS which will be combined with isotope and trace element geochemistry, detailed petrology, petrography and textural analysis to help understand the evolution of the Werner batholith and the developing tectonic framework. The studentship will answer key questions concerning the construction of major batholiths and help to understand the importance of tectonic control during their development.

Recommended reading

Vaughan, A.P.M., Storey, C., Kelley, S.P., Barry, T.L. and Curtis, M.L. (2012). Synkinematic emplacement of Lassiter Coast Intrusive Suite plutons during the Palmer Land Event: evidence for mid-Cretaceous sinistral transpression at the Beaumont Glacier in eastern Palmer Land. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 169, 759-771.

Training

Petrology, geochemistry, petrography and analytical skills (radiogenic isotopes, microprobe analysis, zircon separation, instrument use), scientific writing, presentation skills.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

GW4+ - Bristol

Investigating heterogeneity in crustal architecture and metamorphism in the Eastern Himalayan

Supervisors

Dr Clare Warren (Open University)

Nick Roberts (British Geological Survey)

Description

Mountain belts form where tectonic plates collide, and the Himalayan chain is the Earth’s largest and arguably most impressive mountain belt formed during continent-continent collision. During mountain-building events, crustal rocks deform, metamorphose, melt and recrystallise, and the rates, timescales and structural evolution of these processes inform our understanding of large-scale geodynamic processes. The metamorphic and structural evolution of the high grade metamorphic core of the Himalaya and it’s relationship to the less metamorphosed packages that over- and underlie it are highly debated (e.g. 1, 2). The role and importance of partial melting in lowering the viscosity of the highest-grade rocks and hence initiating and facilitating exhumation is of particular debate.

The eastern Himalayan region of Arunachal Pradesh, India, exposes a cryptic package of ductile-fault-bounded high-grade metamorphic rocks whose pressure-temperature-time-structural evolution provide an important missing link between the ~35-20 Ma evolution of high grade metamorphism in Bhutan and ~10-3 Ma evolution of the Namche Barwa syntaxis at the end of the orogen(3). Determining the timing, structure and spatial distribution of the highest-grade rocks in Arunachal (and specifically the role and nature of the Zimithang Thrust and rocks in the underlying Lumla Window(3)) will provide important clues about how and when exhumation-related deformation was accommodated during collision, and how these processes vary along orogenic strike.

Aims and objectives

  1. Develop methods of linking monazite/zircon/rutile U-Pb ‘age’ to metamorphic ‘stage’ through high precision U-Pb geochronology, trace element geochemistry and metamorphic modelling.
  2. Determine the protolith and timing of melting and re-crystallisation at different structural levels and hence determine the importance of melting for initiating and facilitating deformation.
  3. Link the pressure-temperature-time-deformation and protolith affinity data together to develop a geodynamic model for the formation and exhumation of the eastern Himalaya.

Training

Methods and project specific training: The successful student will carry out detailed mapping and sample collection at the highest structural levels of the Greater Himalayan Sequence in Arunachal Pradesh (Lumla and Tawang regions). They should have a strong background in at least two of the fields of geochemistry, metamorphism and structural geology, and must enjoy working in remote high-altitude areas. The student will join a well-established team of Himalayan Earth scientists at the Open University and NIGL. The Department has a thriving postgraduate community and the postgraduate training programme provides a full range of courses covering: research techniques, scientific methods, information technology, communication and interpersonal skills, which are tailored to the needs of each student.

Recommended reading

  1. Beaumont et al., (2001), Nature 414, 738-742.
  2. Webb et al., (2007), Geology 35, 955-958.
  3. Yin et al., (2010), GSA Bull 122, 360-395.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

CENTA – Open University

See also