BUFI current research projects

NERC Doctoral Training

Currently BUFI supports over 100 PhD studentships, from October 2014 these are largely funded via a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), before this they were funded by direct collaboration with a university department. We do not fund applications from individuals. Available projects are advertised on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page. Below you can browse all our current research projects listed by BGS Science Area and we also list our past students (BUFI alumni) from more recent years so you can see the full breadth and depth of BGS supported PhDs past and present.

2016 student cohort

All of our PhDs that started in October 2016 are in collaboration with a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Further information can be found on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page.

Centre for Environmental Geochemistry
S336 Are land-use decisions of African elephants based on environmental geochemistry?

Student: Fiona Sach

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Martin Broadley

DTP: ENVISION, Nottingham

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fiona-sach-11a53b77

The supply of essential minerals to humans and animals is influenced by the local mineral characteristics of soils. Plants growing in mineral-deficient soils lack key minerals, resulting in deficiencies in those consuming the plants.

The primary aim of this project is to assess the influence of environmental geochemistry on land use decisions by wild African elephants. Mineral levels in a range of biological samples (serum, urine, nails, hair) from elephants at five UK zoos will be measured to validate their use as possible biomarkers of mineral status in wild elephants, alongside mineral analyses of soil, food and water consumed by these elephants. This first phase of the project will involve using advanced inductively coupled mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) techniques. Stable isotope data from tail hairs will determine seasonal variation in their diet.

The second phase of this project will apply these validated methods to a case study of wild African elephants. The multi-element capability of ICP-MS for measuring environmental and biomonitoring samples will enable the estimation of mineral balance and potential metal uptake from the discharge of a phosphate mine in South Africa.

The working hypothesis for the project is that elephants for this particular case study in South Africa are deficient in phosphorus, owing to a phosphorous deficiency in the (soil and) forage in the associated National Park; this drives the elephants to supplement their phosphorus from the water, soil and forage on the land surrounding the phosphorus mine. Elephant incursion into human settlements near this mine have resulted in human-elephant conflict, causing risk of injury and loss of income. This project may identify key locations in the elephants’ home range at which mineral-supplemented forage, or mineral licks, may be placed to reduce the drive to seek additional sources of phosphorus; this could reduce human-elephant conflict.

S340 Gold mineralisation and tectonomagmatic evolution of the Yalgoo-Singleton Greenstone Belt, Western Australia

Student: Jamie Price

BGS Supervisor: Dr Kathryn Goodenough

University Supervisor: Dr Andrew Kerr

DTP: GW4Plus, Cardiff University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamie-price-28242483

The Murchison Province in the Archaean Yilgarn Craton is comprised of greenstone belts surrounded by several generations of granitoid intrusions. The 190 km–long Yalgoo-Singleton greenstone belt (YSGB), extends in a NNW direction from Mount Gibson in the south, to north of Yalgootown and hosts significant gold deposits. The project partner, Minjar Gold, owns the mineral rights to much of the belt, which can be divided into a lower ˜10 km thick, 3.0 Ga Group (Luke Creek) and an overlying ˜5 km thick, 2.8 Ga Group (Mount Farmer) (Watkins & Hickman, 1990). Both successions contain mostly mafic volcanic and intrusive rocks, with minor ultramafic and felsic rocks and the belt is characterised by heterogeneous deformation, with narrow high-strain zones separating more weakly deformed zones.

The YSGB hosts world-class Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide (VMS) deposits, including the Cu-Pb-Zn-Ag-Au Golden Grove mine. The belt also contains extensive gold mineralisation, thought to post-date the VMS mineralising event. The Minjar Project tenements, which host 1.1 million ounces of gold resource, cover ˜70% of the YSGB. The source(s) and timing of the mineralising fluids are still poorly understood in the YSGB and initial SEM-work indicates multiple overprinting mineralisation events.

Using detailed structural mapping, along with petrography, SEM, XRD, ICP-MS and fluid inclusion work, the project will study the paragenesis of the various mineral assemblages associated with Au mineralisation and will assess the composition and origin (deep vs. shallow) of the mineralising fluids along the main shear zones within the YSGB. Radiometric dating of the mineralisation events will also shed more light on their origin and formation.

Little is known about the geochemistry of the meta-igneous rocks in this belt and the project will also involve the systematic collection and (elemental and isotopic) analysis of a suite of samples in order to determine the petrogenesis, tectonomagmatic evolution and more-precise age of these rocks. This part of the project will also inform our understanding of the province's mineralisation events. The working hypothesis is that the Luke Creek and Mount Farmer groups represent the remnants of several Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs). The geochemical framework produced for these postulated LIPs will be compared with geochemistry of similar age LIP magmatism elsewhere in the Yilgarn Craton and on other cratons.

In short, this project represents an exciting opportunity to study both the nature of the gold mineralisation in, and the tectonomagmatic evolution of, a relatively unknown greenstone belt.

S349 Impact of extreme rainfall events on the mobility of potentially toxic elements in floodplains

Student: Layla Al-Mousili

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Dr Tom Sizmur

DTP: SCENARIO, University of Reading

This PhD will improve our predictive capability to assess the impact that increased flood frequency and duration will have on the mobility of potentially toxic elements in floodplain soils.

Extreme weather is likely to become more frequent in the UK as a result of more variable weather patterns from changes in the climate. Whilst the magnitude of changes is extremely uncertain, it is likely that we will experience drier summers, wetter winters, and an increase in the intensity of rainfall events. These changes are likely to lead to greater frequency and duration of flooding events and the occasional inundation of land that has rarely been flooded in the past.

Since many commercial, industrial and residential developments have historically been situated adjacent to rivers (e.g. in the Thames Valley), many floodplain soils downstream from urban environments are contaminated with potentially toxic elements, deposited from the water column during flooding events. The mobility and fate of potentially toxic elements in periodically flooded soils is poorly understood but will be investigated in this PhD with a combination of field monitoring, laboratory simulations and targeted experiments.

The Student will collect and analyse samples of soil and porewater from a floodplain site before, during, and after a real flooding event to monitor the effect of flooding on the biogeochemistry and speciation of potentially toxic elements. The Student will incubate cores taken from the field in the laboratory and subject them to flooding regimes to test the effect of increased flooding frequency and duration on the mobility of contaminants. The Student will design targeted experiments to mechanistically explain the release of potentially toxic elements from the soils during inundation. These experiments will likely focus on the impact of flooding on the rates of redox reactions in contrasting soils, and on the contribution of soil aggregate destabilisation to the release of potentially toxic elements from soils.

S351 Late Quaternary Antarctic ice sheet discharge: exploiting the sediment diatom silica archive

Student: James Williams

BGS Supervisor: Prof Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: Dr Jennifer Pike

DTP: GW4Plus, Cardiff University

Over the past few decades, there has been much deliberation over the role of the Antarctic ice sheet in eustatic sea level rise. The spatial pattern of modern glacial discharge from the Antarctic ice sheets is currently not well understood, particularly in the climatically-sensitive region of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP). The AP accounts for 25% of Antarctic ice mass loss, and 28% of the global contribution of mountain glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise – a pattern that reflects the recent rapid regional warming of the AP that began in the mid–20th Century. There is a societal need to place these modern observations, such as AP warming and melt water contribution, into a longer temporal framework in order to contribute to projections about how the changing ice sheet is likely to impact sea level. Diatom silica oxygen isotopes (δ18Odiatom) can be used as a palaeo-indicator of glacial discharge from the Antarctic marine-terminating glaciers and ice shelves during the Holocene, on seasonal and decadal timescales. By combining δ18Odiatom and diatom assemblages we can infer the balance between atmospheric (i.e. El Niño-Southern Oscillation) and oceanic (i.e. upper circumpolar deep-water) forcing of glacial discharge (Pike, Swann, Leng and Snelling, 2013. Nature Geoscience 6, 199–202; Swann, Pike, Snelling, Leng and Williams, 2013. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 364, 12–23). This project will utilise Antarctic margin sediment cores (for example, a suite of existing BAS sediment cores from the AP; existing US/Australian sediment cores from the East Antarctic margin) to develop Late Quaternary records of glacial discharge and forcing (atmospheric vs. oceanic), investigate spatial coherence of past changes along the Antarctic margin, and provide a context for observed changes. As a second strand to the research project, Cardiff has a new experimental Cold Climate Laboratory that could also afford the opportunity for diatom simulation experiments and culturing, to further ground-truth the δ18Odiatom proxy in high latitude marine waters. Diatom silica stable isotope analyses and diatom assemblages from Antarctic margin cores will be used to answer important questions such as: Is the recent warming 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, centennial-scale natural cycle in the climate of the Antarctic Peninsula region?

Earth hazards and observatories
S326 Measuring the pulse of Bagana volcano

Student: Amy Sharp

BGS Supervisor: Dr Julia Crummy

University Supervisor: Prog Geoff Wadge

DTP: COMET, University of Reading

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amy-diane-sharp-36a9a8a4

Bagana is a singular volcano. It erupts viscous andesite lava flows almost continuously, for decades, together with the strongest plume of volcanic gases of any of the Papua New Guinea volcanoes. Occasionally it explodes and produces ash and, rarely, pyroclastic flows. Remarkably, there seems to be a distinct pulsatory character to the extrusion of lava, with pulses lasting several months. The volcano is ideal for satellite remote sensing because of its strong, dependable, surface signals, the large plume of gas and its remoteness on Bougainville island in Papua New Guinea.

The main aim of this studentship would be to improve our understanding of the pulsatory character of Bagana, mainly though remote sensing. In particular, we will use the InSAR technique to measure the rate of emission of the lava and also the accompanying deformation of the ground surface using the C-band data from the Sentinel-1 satellite and X-band data from TerraSARX/ COSMO SkyMed satellites. These results will be correlated with the emission rate of SO2 measured by the OMI and IASI sensors and the TropOMI sensor to be launched in 2016. The combined time series of these 3 data sets (magma flux, deformation and SO2 flux) will enable conceptual models of the pulsatory magma dynamics to be posed and tested (Wadge et al., 2012, Geochem. Geophys. Geosystems. 13/11 Q11011).

A second aim of the studentship will be to use the insight gained from the model testing to evaluate the risk posed by the current activity and its occasional extremes. We have very good relationship with the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) who are responsible for monitoring Bagana. RVO are keen to improve their satellite monitoring capabilities and to improve risk assessment and the student will use this to forge joint analysis of the pulses and the risk implications.

S350 Physics-based forecasting of earthquake sequences

Student: Simone Mancini

BGS Supervisor: Dr Margarita Segou

University Supervisor: Dr Maximilian Werner

DTP: GW4Plus, University of Bristol

Recent earthquakes from around the world have shown that our cities suffer greatly not only from unexpected great earthquakes but also from their catastrophic aftershocks, despite their transient temporal nature. Examples of such earthquake sequences include the 2011 M6.3 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, the 2013 M6.9 Lushan earthquake in China, and the 2015 M7.8 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. To help communities prepare for pending disasters due to devastating aftershocks, real-time seismic hazard updates are required that provide the public, government and other end-users with the necessary input for informed decision-making. Empirical (statistical) models have shown considerable skill in forecasting aftershock sequences in case studies. The goals of this PhD project are to improve our understanding of the physics of earthquake sequences and to provide time-dependent earthquake forecasts that are based on physics and may thus provide improved forecasts.

The first objective is to conduct retrospective evaluations of physics-based forecasting models in areas of high seismic hazard (the Himalayan Belt, Japan, China, California, Italy, Greece, New Zealand). We can thereby evaluate the influence of different seismotectonic environments. The goal is evaluate the ability of physics-based models to forecast the spatio-temporal evolution of triggered seismicity. These models combine laboratory-derived rate-and-state friction laws with Coulomb failure theory. The predictive power of the forecast models, and therefore the importance of the physical mechanism, will be determined by comparing them against simple empirical/statistical models that are derived from averaging over past observations of aftershock sequences.

This new knowledge will be channelled back into the development of real-time earthquake forecast models that will be submitted to the Collaboratory for the Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP, www.cseptesting.org), where the models will be evaluated in an automated, blind and independent manner in a prospective mode and compared against other existing models. The attached figure presents statistical and physical forecasts for the first week following the 1989 Loma Prieta M=6.9 earthquake in Northern California (Segou et al., 2013).

A main outcome of this PhD project will be to help government agencies in the development and deployment of real-time operational earthquake forecasting systems that provide authoritative information about the time-dependence of seismic hazards and risks to communities and end-users.

Energy and marine geoscience
S332 Collapse of the British-Irish Ice Sheet: the role of climate and sea level changes

Student: Niall Gandy

BGS Supervisor: Dayton Dove and Dr Claire Mellett

University Supervisor: Dr Lauren Gregoire

DTP: SPHERES, Leeds

This project will use the latest generation of ice sheet models and a new reconstruction of the retreat of British and Irish ice sheet (BIIS) to understand what drives the collapse of marine-influenced ice sheets.

The largest threat to future sea level rise is the potential collapse of the marine–influenced West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The same processes that could cause up to 5 m sea level rise over the coming centuries were at play at the end of the last ice age and drove the collapse of the BIIS. Now, thanks to the BRITICE-CHRONO project, the BIIS is becoming the best constrained palaeo-ice sheet system globally, and can serve as an excellent test case for ice sheet models that that will be used to project future sea level rise.

Marine-influenced ice sheets (where portions of the ice sheet are based below sea level) can retreat and in some cases be destabilized by atmosphere and ocean warming and sea level rise. Simulating such processes requires complex models such as BISICLES. What makes BISICLES stand out from other complex ice sheet models is its ability to increase its resolution where and when it is needed, allowing us to make efficient and accurate simulations of marine ice sheets. Simulating the British-Irish and Scandinavian Ice Sheets with BISICLES will allow us to test these latest model developments.

BRITICE-CHRONO is a large research project lead by Prof Chris Clark (co-supervisor of this project) aimed at reconstructing the rate and patterns of retreat of the British-Irish Ice Sheet. Research cruises and fieldwork have been undertaken to collect material to build a reconstruction of the collapse and retreat of the ice sheet. Further data will be provided by the CASE partner, the British Geological Survey (see below), to help understand the complex interaction of the British and Scandinavian ice sheets.

The project will use the last generation BISICLES ice sheet model combined with the new and extensive BRITICE-CHONO dataset and British Geological Survey datasets to understand the extent to which ice retreat is driven by fluctuations in sea level and ocean and atmosphere warming.

S346 Finding tsunami-causing landslide deposits in the lakes of New Zealand

Student: Ryan Dick

BGS Supervisor: Dr Dave Tappin

University Supervisor: Dr Stuart Dunning

DTP: IAPETUS, Newcastle University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryan-dick-2204b189

Relief in mountainous landscapes is a balance between the forces of tectonics, climate, and surface processes. Landslides are an effective means of limiting the growth of mountains to maintain some form of equilibrium, with seismic shaking in particular able to trigger widespread failure and downslope mobilisation of material. It is common that during earthquakes a number of very large, highly mobile landslides, termed rock avalanches, can be expected to be triggered from steep mountainsides with sufficient relief. If rock avalanche run out paths reach settlements or infrastructure, destruction is almost total and with death tolls historically measured in thousands. However, in many of the landscapes where these events happen, the rates of geomorphic processes are high enough to erode and remove most evidence of past events. As a result, the relative frequency of these catastrophic events remains poorly understood, and so the risks posed remains poorly understood.

Advantageously, in previously glaciated terrain deep fiords and inland lakes are common, and interestingly, provide a unique geomorphic setting that can capture the record of past large landslides through underwater preservation of the landslide deposits. If these landslide deposit post-date initial lake formation / relative sea level rise, they may also have triggered tsunami, which themselves pose further risks to a wider area.

The South Island of New Zealand is one of the most seismically-active areas in the world, demonstrated recently by a series of earthquakes that highlighted significant urban vulnerabilities (ML 7.1 and 6.3). These, however, remain minor compared with the expected > ML 8 earthquake on the 600-km long Alpine Fault on the margin of the Southern Alps (SA), known to rupture on average every 200-300 years.

The area that will be affected by intense coseismic shaking has numerous waterside population centres, usually heavily tourist focussed, bounded by steep rock walls already at threshold stability. The last rupture was 1717 AD, a ML 8+ earthquake is a 34% probability in the next 20 years, and 54% in the next 100 years. Fault movement of > 8 m horizontally and > 4m vertically is predicted with a rupture length of ˜400 km. This scale of event will generate shaking intensities sufficient to trigger landsliding across much of the SA, and many will enter lakes and fiords, and some will in turn generate hazardous tsunami. There are consequently large risks to waterside developments in this rapidly-developing tourist region.

Tsunami-hazard assessment requires the spatial distribution and sizes of landslides triggered by previous earthquakes; currently there is only a partially complete inventory of terrestrial deposits, and exceptionally limited investigation of submarine deposits in lakes and fiords. This project aims to fill this data gap using the following hypotheses:

[H1] Large landslide deposits are likely to be preserved in lake-bottom environments so geophysics will be able to determine their magnitude-frequency.

[H2] If large landslides are triggered coseismically then spatial and temporal clustering relationships can be developed.

Energy systems and basin analysis
S339 Global change during the Jurassic; applying multiproxy studies to outcrop and cores

Student: Alex Hudson

BGS Supervisor: Dr Jim Riding and Dr Dan Condon

University Supervisor: Prof Stephen Hesselbo

DTP: GW4Plus, Exeter Camborne School of Mines

The Jurassic was a dynamic time in Earth's history. Despite intense study of both marine and terrestrial sections, much remains to be discovered regarding the coupling between climate and the carbon cycle during this enigmatic period. However, it is necessary to have a robust orbitally-tuned age model on which to hang other geochemical, sedimentological, and palaeontological data.

This project will investigate key Jurassic intervals using multi-proxy techniques, such as X-ray fluorescence, carbon-isotope stratigraphy and palaeomagnetic analysis. We will study outcrop of European basins, such as those in Germany France and the UK, as well as accessing the significantly underused UK borehole archive at the British Geological Survey (BGS). These boreholes have yielded a detailed biostratigraphy, and the lithological succession and geophysical log characteristics are well known, but they have only been subject to limited additional analysis. Advances in stratigraphical techniques, as well as new data suggesting that cores previously thought to be devoid of a primary remnant magnetisation still carry a weak signal, will allow high-resolution age models to be constructed for this interval for the first time. Additionally, these data will shed light on major environmental change events from this interval, notably expressed as black shales in the Sinemurian and at the Sinemurian-Pliensbachian boundary. In these examples, the stratigraphical records show close similarities to the well-known palaeoenvironmental changes at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary and during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, but the intensity and duration remain mysterious. Data generated 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.

The student will be embedded within the Deep Time Global Change group at the University of Exeter, as well as gaining experience with project partners at BGS and the University of Oxford. Combining fieldwork and borehole studies, along with a multi-proxy approach, will ensure excellent employability and training in a range of technical and research skills.

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.

S355 Analysis of shale mineralogy and fabric and its induced anisotropic seismic response for hydrocarbon exploration and production

Student: Iain Anderson

BGS Supervisor: Dr Xiaoyang Wu

University Supervisor: Dr Jingsheng Ma

DTP: UK Oil and Gas, Heriot-Watt University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iain-anderson

Unconventional hydrocarbons have become a fundamental part of the energy mix for the 21st century. Amongst these unconventional resources, shale gas is playing an increasingly important role in natural gas exploration and production (especially in North America). However, despite the North American experience, shales are much more poorly understood as reservoirs than their conventional sandstone or carbonate counterparts. Shales are known to occur in a wide variety of types, with significant variation in their compositional, textural and structural attributes. They commonly exhibit marked heterogeneity in rock properties, including fabric, as well as strong seismic anisotropy. Effective exploration and production of shale gas needs systematic and multidisciplinary investigation in all aspects of rock properties, shale heterogeneity and seismic response. In this project, the student will focus on the nature of the Bowland Formation shales of northern England, generate new analytical data from outcrop and borehole data, and use these results to inform novel modelling of the seismic response.

S357 Using Pb and Zn isotope compositions of crude oils as geological and environmental tracers

Student: Nadége Fetter

BGS Supervisor: John Ludden

University Supervisor: Directeur de Recherche CNRS

DTP: Non-DTP, Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, Laboratoire de Geologie de Lyon

Radiogenic and stable isotope tracing of crude oils has never so far been undertaken largely due to the difficulties of dealing with the low trace element contents of oil samples, in the present case Pb and Zn. We show here that we have developed a novel proof-of-concept analytical protocol that allows radiogenic Pb and stable Zn isotope determinations on < 10 ml of crude oil. Through a number of sources we now have access to well-characterized (for organic components, well description, and location) crude oil samples.

This project will focus primarily on oil samples from Northern Europe, including the North Sea and UK oil onshore. Our preliminary data indicate that this type of analysis will allow detailed provenance and basin-wide studies that can be extended globally later on in the project once proven to be informative for Northern Europe. The Pb isotope data on oil further will complement extensive Pb isotope work on minerals (sulfides and K-feldspar) from granites elsewhere in Europe, including Scandinavia and the circum-Mediterranean, and help in the characterization of geotectonic domains and the maturation of crust in the European platform. Further to this, we also expect that this new technique will open up new avenues in oil formation, maturation, and reservoir characterization and we will test these first in Northern Europe given the extensive knowledge that is available on these basins and their formation. Lastly, we anticipate applications in forensic characterization of oil samples for environmental studies.

At the time of writing, we have achieved proof-of-concept of a novel analytical protocol that successfully extracts Pb and Zn from the same 5 ml crude oil aliquot using dichloromethane and hydrobromic acid. Once the Pb and Zn has been extracted from the oil, both elements are separated and purified by anion-exchange chromatography on a 250 microliter column, in one step for Pb and two steps for Zn. We are able to measure as little as a few nanograms of Pb and Zn with a precision of ˜0.01% for Pb and 0.0005% for Zn using multiple-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry with added Tl (for Pb) and Cu (for Zn) to correct for instrumental mass bias and additionally applying sample-standard bracketing to obtain accurate results. The total procedural Pb and Zn blanks currently are of the order of tens of picograms, but will be reduced further by refining and improving the technique over the coming months. A first set of preliminary Pb and Zn isotope data obtained in July 2016 for a variety of crude oil types (22 oils in total) with different geographical origins around the world is listed in Table 1: these results give the correct Pb model ages for the oils and indicate, also correctly, whether the oils are of marine or lacustrine origin (based on their Zn isotope compositions).

However, some areas on our current European Pb isotope maps are void of data, namely those regions where the European sedimentary basins cover the crystalline basement (for example, the Paris, Weald, and Pannonian Basins). This is where measuring Pb isotopes in oils, whose Pb likely is sourced in the underlying basement, can add missing data to the European Pb maps. During the first year of this project we will focus on filling in the European maps by analyzing oils notably from the Paris and Weald basins and the North Sea, including the northern North Sea, which is a unique place where basement fragments of Archean, Grenvillian, and Hercynian ages meet and hence will put this new technique and the power of Pb models ages to the test. We will also focus on oils from the Pannonian basin in Eastern Europe, which is another major data gap on the maps. During the second year we will extend the project to global oil sources in an attempt to come up with at least the beginning of a world map. During the third year, we expect all analytical work to be completed so time can be spent on mapping out the data and writing up the scientific results for publication in leading scientific journals.

Zinc isotopes, which we will measure simultaneously on the same oil aliquots as those on which we measure Pb isotopes, will complement the Pb isotopes by reflecting planktonic (marine) or lacustrine origins by comparison with literature Zn isotope data on plants, roots, lichens, etc. Zinc has a ‘hard’ nutrient (Si-like) behavior with surface water being depleted in the heavy isotopes. To the best of our knowledge, the data we have acquired so far constitute the first attempt at measuring 66Zn/64Zn in oil. The range we observe among the first 16 out of the 22 oils analyzed (almost 1 permil, which is a factor of 200 larger than the external reproducibility of our Zn isotope measurements of 0.005 permil; Table 1) is quite encouraging. Coupling Zn isotopes with more conventional organic tracers will improve our understanding of the position of oil-forming organics in the water column and on the local organic productivity at the time of oil formation.

Engineering geology
S329 The geological dimension of urban resilience: Impact of geo-hazards in resilient urban design and policy

Student: Vangelis Pitidis

BGS Supervisor: Dr Deodato Tapete

University Supervisor: Prof Jon Coaffee

DTP: Non DTP, Warwick University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vangelis-pitidis-38252549

This PhD will investigate the geological dimension of urban resilience, how current and future practice of urban design are accounting for city exposure to geo-hazards and what solutions (including nature-based approaches) are already, and can be put, in place to increase the resilience of the city form and building design.

BGS will contribute to specific components of the student research programme in particular: (i) the comparative analysis of commonalities, distinctiveness and specific requirements of the different end-users and stakeholder communities in the realm of urban design that might benefit of the PhD research outcomes and the tool; (ii) selection and incorporation of the geological and environmental datasets within the tool; (iii) scalability, applicability and suitability of the tool for incorporation and translation into policies and directives.

To achieve the above objectives the project will be provided with full access to the unique core datasets available at BGS and state-of-the-art research facilities and expertise of modelling and tool design at the Resilient Cities Laboratories in the University of Warwick.

S334 Impact and value of geo-resources underneath cities for resilient urban design

Student: Katherine Harris

BGS Supervisor: Dr Deodato Tapete

University Supervisor: Prof Jon Coaffee

DTP: CENTA, University of Warwick

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherine-harris-5867a95b

There is a wealth of geo-resources and services that the subsurface offers to growing and transforming cities including: bedrock for foundations; water for domestic/business uses; space for waste disposal, underground storage, infrastructure and utilities; energy sources; building materials.

With increasing urbanisation cities are becoming more reliant on subsurface and deep geological resources (e.g., in the UK each city-dweller’s typical daily use amounts to 150-165 litres of freshwater (the UK Water Partnership, 2015) and ˜19% of London’s heat demand may be met from ground heat (London’s Zero Carbon Energy Resource: Secondary Heat Report Phase (2013)). Urban geo-reources are not always renewable, frequently interdependent with other city systems and their stock, demand and quality vary spatially from site to site, even within the boundaries of the same city.

There are existing examples presented in the academic literature about how local supply of geo-resources influenced the urban development and structure of past cities (Margottini & Spizzichino, 2014; Bianca, 2014), and what the opportunities and challenges are associated with strategic approach to urban development (European Commission, 2002).

However more research is needed to assess quantitatively how present and future cities can utilise these resources to be more resilient to urbanisation and environmental pressures and their interactions.

This project therefore aims to answer the following key research questions:

  • What metrics can we use to quantify the resilience of urban design?
  • How can innovative use of urban geo-resources complement contemporary urban design?
  • What social and economic benefits can be generated to promote the three pillars of sustainability?

The PhD will develop a novel 'geoscientific-thinking' model as a new paradigm of urban design where geological approaches are fully integrated into the design process of city and building forms.

This will be achieved by valuing the geoscientific data as source of objective information and use them into inputs of practical solutions to the concept of 'working with the landscape' established in the contemporary theory of sustainable urbanism.

S337 Geophysical indicators of slope stability: towards improved early warning of landslide hazards

Student: James Whiteley

BGS Supervisor: Dr Jon Chambers

University Supervisor: Prof Michael Kendall

DTP: GW4Plus, University of Bristol

Most current methodologies for assessing landslide hazard are heavily dependent on surface observations (e.g. remote sensing or walk-over surveys). These approaches generally neglect the influences of subsurface structure and hydrogeological processes on landslide triggering and activation; instead they typically only quantify the surface expressions of slope failure events once they have been initiated. Consequently, there is a growing interest in the development geophysical approaches for investigating slope stability (e.g. Perrone et al., 2014). Geophysical techniques have the potential to provide volumetric subsurface information revealing the internal structure and hydraulic process within the slope or landslide body – thereby providing an indication of subsurface precursors to slope failure (e.g. elevated moisture distributions) and possibly early warning of failure events.

Here we seek to develop two very promising, and complementary, geophysical approaches for slope characterisation – geoelectrical and seismic methods. Geoelectrical imaging is sensitive to lithological variability, and crucially with recent advances in monitoring instrumentation, changing moisture conditions in the subsurface. Seismic methods, such as P and S wave tomography, can provide information on the engineering properties of the subsurface in terms of strength, stiffness and compressibility. Emerging developments in the area of geophysical inverse theory now enable joint inversion of geoelectrical and seismic data – thereby improving image resolution and enhancing the information content of the resulting interpretations. Our hypothesis is that the combined use of geoelectrical and seismic monitoring will provide the means to investigate subsurface processes at unprecedented levels of spatial and temporal resolution – thereby providing an enhanced diagnostic and predictive capability for early warning of failure events within vulnerable slopes.

The student will have access to a number of geophysical observatories on natural and engineered slopes, all of which are instrumented with geophysical monitoring systems and environmental / geotechnical sensor networks (e.g. weather stations, pore pressure, tilt, and moisture content). A key site is the Hollin Hill Observatory in North Yorkshire (Merritt et al., 2014), which BGS has been operating since 2008 on an active landslide in Lias Clays in North Yorkshire, UK. This observatory has a permanently installed resistivity monitoring system, seismic survey data, and a broad band seismometer. The primary purpose of the seismometer is to monitoring fracking activities in the Vale of Pickering – but will also be capable of monitoring shallow landslide movements at the site. This combination of sensors, instrumentation and surveys provides the potential to investigate both moisture-driven and seismically induced landslide events.

S347 Combining geoelectrical imaging and X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) for improved hydraulic characterisation of soils

Student: Mihai Cimpoiasu

BGS Supervisor: Dr Oliver Kuras

University Supervisor: Prof Sacha Mooney

DTP: STARS, University of Nottingham

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mihai-cimpoiasu-085aa312a

Soils are the host for hydrological and biogeochemical processes in the unsaturated zone. However, variations in soil structure and hydraulic properties remain difficult to quantify, hence improved physical characterisation at multiple scales is vitally important if we want to truly understand fluid dynamics and the fate of nutrients and pollutants in soils.

Current soil imaging methodologies operate at different spatial scales, are sensitive to different physical properties, and have distinctive strengths. Rapid advances have recently been made in two promising, but unconnected fields, namely geoelectrical imaging and X-ray Computed Tomography (CT). Modern geophysical techniques evaluate geophysical properties of soils to infer spatiotemporal models of hydrological properties or states. Novel instrumentation with permanent sensor arrays allows continuous geophysical monitoring of soil volumes in near-real time and with practical resolutions in the cm range on soil columns. Conversely, CT maps variations of spatial attenuation of EM radiation with material densities, which allows examination of the soil porous architecture at the microscopic level. State-of-the-art CT systems achieve much higher spatial resolution than geophysics (˜10 m voxels on 10 mm samples), however accurate segmentation of soil images is non-trivial, a trade-off exists between sample size and resolution, and repeat measurements, e.g. to track moisture dynamics, are time-consuming.

Integration of both methodologies has not been attempted so far, however their joint application to quantitative soil characterisation offers great potential for reducing uncertainty in the imaging of preferential flow and estimation of unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. This would benefit studies of agricultural and industrial leaching of contaminants in different soil scenarios.

Geoanalytics and modelling
S343 Coastal management and adaptation, an integrated big data approach - improved risk based decision-making

Student: Al Rumson

BGS Supervisor: Katy Mee, Anna Harrison and Gareth Jenkins

University Supervisor: Dr Stephen Hallett

CDP: DREAM, Cranfield University

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/al-rumson-88726413

The requirement of shoreline management planning (SMP) is recognised around the world. The SMP must take into account the often conflicting goals of development or resource exploitation versus conservation of sensitive habitats and sustainable resource exploitation. The SMP formulation relies heavily upon the considerable body of existing data related to the physical, biological and land use features long the shoreline: the overall purpose being to provide a management plan for up to 100 years to mitigate the risk of coastal erosion and flooding. The SMP has to encompass detailed studies of natural resources distribution and status, social-cultural, socioeconomic and land use aspects, and the physical chemical environment, such as coastal water quality, coastal flooding, erosion and sedimentation. A large proportion of the UKs population living in coastal areas are at risk of coastal erosion and flooding, and hence there is a pressure to use the shorelines in such a way that human, environmental and economic benefits can be maximised.

SMP attempts to harmonise coastal development with the carrying capacity of the coastal zone through consideration of these interactive physical and ecological processes. However, poorly managed coastal planning puts stress on the natural environments through direct damage or accelerated flood risk or erosion; further given that the cost to provide defences that are both effective and stable averages between £2M - £5M / km, cost benefit decisions have to be made.

As a result, there has to be a sensible balance achieved between those areas where the increasing pressure from the changing shoreline will make defence unacceptable in reality and those where defences can be maintained but at increased cost.

The goal is to develop a management tool that harmonises all the available data for all activities in the coastal areas to support a set of management objectives for a given area. Modelling of coastal phenomena are extremely valuable techniques for assessing the effectiveness and likely impacts of potential or proposed interventions, however current uncertainties and gaps in data and the subsequent limitations on interpretation has prevented the development of suitable ad hoc 'what if' scenarios. The emphasis of this project is the application of Big Data and geospatial tools and technologies to develop decision support tools to assist in the formulation of management strategies in shoreline management planning. The integration of big data analytics will result in new insights into the correlations and environmental sensitivities that will provide a valuable model for facilitating coastal decision-making and SMP policy formulation such as the expert evaluation and assessments of the modelling results can be more readily communicated and justified both socially and economically.

S352 Can nature protect us from the coastal impacts of climate change? An analysis of geotechnical properties of salt marshes and implications for salt marsh stability

Student: Helen Brookes

BGS Supervisor: Dr Kate Royse

University Supervisor: Dr Iris Moeller

DTP: ESS, University of Cambridge

Groundwater
S341 Understanding hydrological drought

Student: Doris Wendt

BGS Supervisor: Dr John Bloomfield

University Supervisor: Dr Anne Van Loon

DTP: CENTA, University of Birmingham

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/doris-wendt-47308156

Droughts are having major impacts around the world. The ongoing, multiyear California drought, for example, has led to problems with water supply, agriculture, wild fires, and ecology. Adequate drought management is, however, impeded by lack of understanding of the processes that underlie development of drought. In the case of California, snow accumulation in the mountains in winter is driving the water system, but changes in snow cover in the future are highly uncertain. This is the case for many regions around the world. For example, large cities in Asia are dependent on Himalayan glacier melt for their drinking water while glaciers are expected to decrease rapidly, and countries like Norway are almost completely dependent on snow and ice for their domestic electricity production, which makes them very vulnerable in a changing climate.

Moreover, groundwater is often used as a substitution for surface water during drought, but groundwater aquifers are being depleted rapidly and might not be available in the future anymore unless we start to manage them sustainably. In California at the moment there is no restriction on groundwater use, leading to unprecedented groundwater depletion, and the same is true for many other countries like India and the Netherlands. There are many questions related to droughts in groundwater that require an answer. The intense groundwater use during drought also brings forward questions about the influence of human activities on drought. In California, the completely engineered water supply system with reservoirs and pipelines has increased water availability, but urbanisation and agriculture are changing hydrological processes and might aggravate drought. In the human-dominated world we live in today, we need to go beyond studying natural processes and start including human influences on drought.

One of the major reasons for the current knowledge gap is the lack of observational data on the appropriate resolution to quantify natural drivers of and human influences on drought. To really increase our understanding and provide useful answers for drought management, we should explore innovative ways to combine and analyse existing datasets and new data options, such as satellite information on water storage and qualitative data on human water use and management. This project therefore aims to increase understanding of drought in complex systems through quantification of natural drivers and human influences on water storage. It will focus on comparing contrasting case studies around the world.

The student will utilise a range of existing and new datasets to address the research question. Especially the use of new satellite tools, such as NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite, and new qualitative datasets on water use will be explored in combination with point measurements of snow accumulation, groundwater levels and streamflow. Case study regions will be selected to represent variations in climate and catchment conditions, and contrasting human influences. Datasets from these case study regions will be provided by our partner organisations. The PhD student will perform a (statistical) data analysis on this data, resulting in a quantification of the driving processes of drought in different regions. This then allows for the evaluation of the effects of projected climate change and changes in human water use on drought.

S342 Application of novel field sensors for tracking pathogens in drinking water supplies in Africa

Student: Jade Ward

BGS Supervisor: Dr Daniel Lapworth

University Supervisor: Dr Stephen Pedley

DTP: SCENARIO, University of Surrey

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/jade-ward-06324254

Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing unprecedented changes. Rapid projected population growth, pressures on land-use, growing climate variability, and often poor environmental hygiene are threatening the long-term sustainability of clean sources of water. The problem is particularly acute in heavily populated low-income peri-urban areas of major cities where faecal contamination of water supplies can be widespread. Bacteria and viruses found in wastewater and sewage cause diarrheal diseases, such as cholera, which kill 1.8 million people every year, 90% of whom are children under 5 years. Here, poor health from drinking contaminated water has a huge impact on the livelihoods of millions of people, reducing life expectancy, their ability to generate income and ultimately their ability to improve their economic prospects. Sustainable Development Goal 6 sets a challenge to eliminate these conditions by 2030 by "[achieving] universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all." Monitoring water to confirm safety is going to be an important task. Waterborne pathogens are typically inferred from the presence of surrogate indicator organisms such as thermo-tolerant coliforms. However, analysis requires access to suitable laboratories, specialist trained personnel, and is time-consuming: typically 24 - 48 hours to get a result. This can limit sampling resolution, particularly during critical pollution events or for intervention monitoring. Given the limited capability of many laboratories in Sub-Saharan Africa and the growing pressure on water resources, it is vital to research the potential for quick, cheap, accurate ways of measuring faecal pollution in the field to guide efforts to provide safe and affordable drinking water for all.

This research project will focus on the application of novel field-based sensors for tracking faecal contamination in drinking water supplies (e.g. Sorensen et al 2015) in East Africa (Uganda and Kenya). These methods will be reviewed and tested alongside a suite of tools, which will include: molecular DNA (qPCR, High throughput sequencing) techniques to quantify pathogenic strains of bacteria and viruses; mapping, characterizing and quantifying the risks posed by water-borne pathogens in both urban and rural communities. In partnership with NGOs (including Oxfam and Practical Action) and local ministries, the project will generate much-needed process understanding about the fate a dispersal of pathogens in shallow groundwater in Africa. Equally important, it will increase the capacity of local actors to collect real-time information about the quality of sources and the need for interventions.

Sorensen, J P R, Lapworth, D J, Marchant, B P, Nkhuwa, D C W, Pedley, S, Stuart, M E, Bell, R A, Chirwa, M, Kabika, J, Liemisa, M, Chibesa, M, 2015. In-situ tryptophan-like fluorescence: a real-time indicator of faecal contamination in drinking water supplies. Water Research, 81. 38-46

2. WHO (2004) http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/factsfigures04/en/ [accessed July 2015]

3. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300 [accessed October 2015]

Marine geoscience
S327 Fluid flow paths through sedimentary basins: Implications for exploration in challenging geological environments

Student: Chantelle Roelofse

BGS Supervisor: Joana Gafeira

University Supervisor: Dr Tiago Alves

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, Cardiff University

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/chantelle-roelofse-7346a765

Fluid flow through sedimentary basins is recorded at multiple depths and in distinct ways, from near- seafloor features that chiefly reflect the escape of biogenic and diagenetic fluids, to larger subsurface conduits for thermogenic fluid and magma. Hence, when recognised on 3D Seismic Data, fluid flow features may represent paleo-or modern paths for fluid on their way from source to reservoir, or from source to surface. Their presence is key to the recognition of active petroleum systems and associated geohazards.

Scientific objectives of this study include: 1) Use semi-automated methods to identify, and characterise, fluid flow features in subsurface units, and thus reconstruct the migration history of hydrocarbons in time and space; 2) Correlate local and regional events (tectonic, eustatic or magmatic) with main periods of fluid flow in sedimentary basins; and 3) Correlate the sub-surface distribution of fluid flow features with local structures, such as faults, salt structures, mass movement deposits and karst systems, so that the main paths for fluid are recognised in complex sedimentary sequences.

The project will use 3D seismic data and borehole data from the Central and Southern North Sea, NW Australia (Browse Basin) and NE Brazil to characterise the path of fluids through sedimentary basins, and their relationship with major and local structures. Fluid flow features observed at key horizons will be mapped with an adaptation of the semi-automatic GIS method of seabed pockmarks characterization created by the BGS.

S353 Climatic cyclicity and environmental interactions in arid continental basins: The Leman Sandstone, Southern North Sea

Student: Charlotte Priddy

BGS Supervisor: Dr Thomas Randles

University Supervisor: Dr Stuart M Clarke

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, Keele University

This project will evaluate the interactions and controlling mechanisms affecting linked ephemeral fluvial, playa and aeolian systems in outcrop and a sub-surface North Sea analogue. It will elucidate the relative impacts of climate change and tectonism on facies distributions and interactions in these systems, and provide a 3D fluid-flow model pertinent to migration and reservoir evaluation.

The Leman Sandstone comprises a sedimentary succession recording the interaction between ephemeral fluvial systems and aeolian and playa environments. The record is punctuated by numerous regional surfaces, the origin of which may have been mostly climatic, with periods of increased run-off resulting in fluvial incision, especially near active faults. However, the surfaces formed in a basin that was subsiding. Thus, even in a background of overall increasing accommodation space, climatic variation may have allowed for periods of significant erosion. The occurrence of significant erosion resulted in a sedimentary record that shows pronounced lateral as well as vertical facies variations.

The distribution of facies element geometries, their 3D interactions and relationships to regional erosive surfaces, and their dependence on climatic variation and active tectonism, are critical to understanding the distribution of petrophysical properties within the Leman Sandstone, and therefore to the distribution of fluid migration pathways for reservoir characterisation and management. Interactions between fluvial and aeolian systems in arid continental basins have been the subject of past research, and these relationships have been related to a sequence-stratigraphical framework based upon climatic cyclicity. However, this past work does not account for a fluvial component that is strongly ephemeral, and upon which there is a strong control on facies distribution from active tectonism. North & Taylor (1996), and the present authors, have shown that in strongly ephemeral-fluvial systems elements show significantly more variability at all scales. Hence the distribution of ephemeral-fluvial deposits, and their interaction with other environments, will more strongly control permeability distributions and migration pathways than is the case for more stable fluvial settings.

This project will use extensive fieldwork of well-exposed sedimentary successions through arid continental depositional systems within the intra-cratonic basins of the Western USA, principally the Wingate, Moenave and Kayenta formations of the Colorado Plateau. As well as traditional methods of data gathering and analysis in the field, the project will make use of novel and developing 3D photogrammetric techniques to provide spatially accurate 3D models of the outcrop.

The fieldwork will provide a well-constrained analogue for environmental interaction and facies distribution within the Leman Sandstone, which is undergoing a resurgence of successful exploration activity at present with new discoveries such as Pharos and nearby as yet undrilled exploration prospects.

S354 Constraining the thermal histories of the Carboniferous Midland Valley of Scotland: a potential resource for unconventional gas and shale oil?

Student: Eamon McKenna

BGS Supervisor: Dr Alison Monaghan

University Supervisor: Dr Cristina Persano

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, University of Glasgow

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eamon-mckenna-6b578693

The Carboniferous shales of the Midland Valley in central Scotland have been recently evaluated a viable resource for shale gas and oil1. The accuracy of the estimates, however, is hampered by the poor data quality and quantity. The aim of this project is to provide data that constrain the geological histories of the sedimentary basins and their thermal maturity.

A successful source of oil and gas is generally a large, stable basin, with a simple tectonic history. By contrast, The Midland Valley is a Late Palaeozoic terrane, including a series of fault-bounded basins that experienced a complex and prolonged tectonic history with several phases of deposition and exhumation and Late Carboniferous to Permian magmatism. The presence of igneous activity results in major uncertainties in the calculation of the sediment maturity, as magma alters the thermal field of the sedimentary rocks in which it is intruded, but only at local scale and for a short time span. Faults may also have a thermal effect, as they are often conduits for fluids. To date, the thermal histories of the basins in the Midland Valley, and therefore, the maturity of the organic matter, have been reconstructed mainly using vitrinite reflectance data from boreholes2. Although this technique is extremely useful because it supplies the maximum temperature registered by the organic material since deposition, it does not provide the length of time over which the rocks were exposed at the high temperature. When magmatic intrusions and faults are present, the information retrieved from the vitrinite reflectance that the rocks have been in the 'oil and gas window' (˜60–130°C) may not be indicative of the maturity of the organic material, as the residence time in the oil window may have been insufficient for the organic matter to mature.

In this project we will use low temperature thermochronometry (apatite fission track and zircon (U-Th)/He analysis) to derive thermal histories integrated over the time that the rocks spent in the oil and gas window. The time-temperature paths will, in turn, provide robust, quantitative constraints on the maturity of the organic matter and on the exhumation histories of the evolving sedimentary basins. The project will use apatite and zircon-bearing rock samples from boreholes (BGS collection) and outcrops across the Midland Valley, focussing, but not limiting, to the stratigraphic intervals that prospective studies have identified as a potential resource for unconventional shale gas and oil1.

1.Monaghan A A. 2014 The Carboniferous shales of the Midland Valley of Scotland: geology and resource estimation. British Geological Survey for Department of Energy and Climate Change, London, UK

2.Vincent C J. et al. 2010 Thermal and burial history modelling in the Midlothian-Leven syncline in the Midland Valley of Scotland using BasinMod and HotPot Scottish Journal of Geology, 46; 125-142.

S356 Impact of glaciation on Arctic petroleum systems: seismic geomorphology and petroleum systems modelling offshore West Greenland and West Norway

Student: David Cox

BGS Supervisor: Erica Greenhalgh

University Supervisor: Prof Mads Huuse

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, University of Manchester

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-cox-bbb06984

The arctic is the last frontier for petroleum exploration and poses unique challenges and opportunities to industry and academia. Arctic continental margins are characterised by rapid recent sedimentation offshore, eroded shelf areas and often severely exhumed hinterland areas. The linkages between exhumation, temporary storage and ultimate deposition in combination with highly dynamic ice sheets make up an extremely dynamic setting that allows dissection of mountain chains and deposition of entire depocentres to take place over a few million years. Exploration activities along the western Norway and Greenland continental margins have provided an extensive geophysical archive that contains the shelf and deep water parts of these dynamic systems, imagining them to a high level of detail, allowing high-resolution mapping of depositional sequences and depositional elements and fluid flow phenomena, which help constrain the presence of petroleum systems. Constructing a high-resolution and spatially extensive chronological, depositional and fluid flow framework through seismic geomorphological methods is the first challenge of this project. Quantitative petroleum systems modelling incorporating rapid and spatially variable sedimentation under varying global and local climate conditions is the second challenge addressed by this project. The occurrence of coarse clastic depositional elements in arctic stratigraphic successions form important analogues for glaciogenic reservoirs in the older stratigraphic record and documenting these thus forms an important third aspect of the project.

In the course of the PhD project the student will undertake extensive seismic interpretation of areas offshore western Greenland and western Norway in order to constrain tectono-stratigraphic evolution and glacial activity, in particular extent of depocentres and facies, grounding zones and evidence for hinterland exhumation. These data will be used to derive a basin-scale sediment budgets and to populate petroleum systems models focused on the impact of glaciation on the underlying petroleum systems. Supplementary fieldwork to constrain aspects of glacial sedimentology and petroleum systems will be encouraged.

The PhD student will receive research training that will provide them with the skills to enter academia or the oil and gas industry. Seismic interpretation will utilize Petrel and Paleoscan and petroleum systems modelling will be using Nova and PetroMod. The student will join a large group of PhD students, post-docs and academic staff in the Petroleum Geoscience and Basin Studies Group at Manchester. The project spans the fields of seismic stratigraphy, seismic geomorphology, palaeo-environmental analysis and petroleum systems modelling and is suitable for a student with a background in geology/geoscience/geophysics.

S348 Structural glaciological evolution of rapidly receding temperate piedmont glaciers: a case study from southern Iceland

Student: Ailsa Guild

BGS Supervisor: Emrys Phillips and Kay Smith

University Supervisor: Prof David Evans

DTP: Durham University

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/ailsa-guild-9406b1a7

The research project will focus upon the structural glaciological evolution of rapidly receding temperate piedmont glaciers in southern Iceland to demonstration how these highly sensitive ice masses are responding to the current period of accelerated climate change.

Over the past two decades Iceland's glaciers have been undergoing a phase of accelerated retreat due to warmer summers and milder winters allowing melt all year round. Due to their maritime North Atlantic location, high-mass turnover and steep gradients, southern Iceland’s glaciers are exceptionally sensitive to climatic fluctuations on annual to decadal timescales, making them an ideal natural laboratory for the study of glacier response during the current period of climate change.

It is not fully understood how glaciers are responding to climatic change but, retreating glacier margins are often considered to behave in two ways: (i) "active retreat" where the margin oscillates on an annual cycle, as retreat due to summer melt is offset by forward motion resulting in a small readvance during the cold winter months and (ii) "passive retreat" where the glacier margin is no longer moving forward and stagnates, retreating by in situ melting or "downwasting". Annual recessional moraines occur in front of numerous Icelandic glaciers including Skálafellsjökull, Lambatungnajökull, Breiðamerkurjökull, and Fjallsjökull. The magnitude of the fluctuations occurring during the active retreat of a glacier margin are strongly dependent on the glacier's mass balance, which is partly controlled by climatic factors, such as temperature and precipitation, averaged over time.

Recent structural glaciological studies have focused on the structures established within different glacier types from a wide range of settings. This research has not only contributed to our understanding of the pasts and structural evolution of these glaciers, but has also outlined the mechanisms controlling their forward movement and highlighted the importance of deformation structures in controlling sediment distribution within a glacier. However, structural studies of the deformation occurring within the ice during stagnation and collapse are, in contrast, relatively rare. The proposed study aims to address this knowledge gap.

Minerals and waste
S345 Epithermal paleosurface evolution in emergent volcanoes: implications for shallow submarine mineral deposit exploration and preservation

Student: Jo Miles

BGS Supervisor: Dr Jon Naden

University Supervisor: Dr Frances Cooper

DTP: GW4Plus, University of Bristol

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyjomiles

Active geothermal and volcanic-hydrothermal systems are commonly associated with characteristic near surface and surface landscape products and structures resulting from the discharge of thermal fluids. Relics of these surface features and products can be preserved in a range of epithermal mineral deposits, which are significant sources of Au, Ag, Cu and by-product technology metals (e.g. Sb, Te and Se). Moreover, they can serve as vectors to mineralisation [1]. It is also known that epithermal style mineralisation can extend into the submarine environment [2], which is an emerging field for mineral exploration and exploitation and is currently attracting significant international and national research funding to help secure the supply of a range of raw materials.

The intention of the PhD project is to extend our understanding and knowledge of paleo-geothermal and volcanic-hydrothermal systems into the shallow submarine environment.

Two key research questions will be addressed:

  1. What are the key geological, geochemical, and mineralogical features of shallow submarine epithermal paleosurfaces and how do these relate to different mineral deposit styles?
  2. How does paleosurface aggradation and degradation affect deposit evolution as volcanism transitions from the submarine to subaerial environment?

The questions will answered by undertaking a programme of research on a recently (<2 Ma) emergent volcano – Milos island, Greece – that is an on-land natural laboratory for studying volcanic-hydrothermal processes in the submarine environment.

The project will employ the following methodologies and techniques:

  • Remote sensing: A high-resolution airborne remote sensing data set (LiDAR, digital photography, hyperspectral SWIR imagery) will provide information on paleosurface features, geological structures and types of hydrothermal alteration.
  • Fieldwork: Fieldwork will focus on detailed mapping and sampling of up to three paleosurface alteration systems, mostly identified through interpretation of the remote sensing data. It will include the deployment of field-based-spectroscopic techniques (ASD/PIMA, hand-held XRF).
  • Mineralogy and geochemistry: Guided by the results of the field studies, a suite of samples will be collected for detailed mineralogical and geochemical analysis. Techniques to be deployed will include SEM and XRD to determine mineralogy and mineral textures and ICP-MS analysis to provide information on the spatial distribution of trace elements, in particular semi-metal pathfinder elements such as Sb, As, and Te, in paleosurfaces and alteration zones.
  • Laboratory-based spectral analysis. Laboratory-based spectral analysis of rocks and hydrothermal alteration products will be undertaken to help underpin the interpretation of the satellite and airborne remote sensing data.
  • Geochronology: There will be a need to put paleosurface processes into the correct volcanological context. This will require a targeted geochronological study of alteration systems and their hosting volcanic rocks. Techniques to be utilized include U-Pb dating of zircon in the host volcanics, zircon and apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronology of material located in the cores of hydrothermal up-flow zones, Ar-Ar dating of alteration minerals such as adularia, and potentially cosmogenic nuclide dating of silicified paleosurfaces such as sinters.

References:

[1] Sillitoe (in press) Epithermal paleosurfaces. Mineralium Deposita. DOI: 10.1007/s00126-015-0614-z

[2] Naden et al (2005). Active geothermal systems with entrained seawater as modern analogs for transitional volcanic-hosted massive sulfide and continental magmato-hydrothermal mineralization: The example of Milos Island, Greece. Geology 33: 541–544 DOI: 10.1130/G21307.1

S344 Magmatic evolution of a gold telluride district – Metaliferi Mountains, Romania

Student: Vlad Victor Ene

BGS Supervisor: Dr Jon Naden

University Supervisor: Dr Daniel Smith

DTP: CENTA, University of Leicester

Project Highlights:

  • Challenge longstanding ideas of how magmatic activity relates to ore formation
  • Join a multinational research team studying tellurium in geochemical and ore forming processes
  • Develop opportunities for career paths in academic and industry

Overview:

Some of the world's most significant gold deposits are rich in tellurium, and are hosted in atypical igneous host rocks (alkalic or adakite-like compositions). Despite the economic importance of Au-Te ore deposits, the underlying processes which link them to particular types of magmas are poorly understood. This project will seek to address this important knowledge gap and will utilise fieldwork coupled with state-of-the-art analytical techniques.

The study area will be Metaliferi Mountains (part of the Apuseni Mountains) of Romania and the research will focus on its magmatic history. The area hosts world–class examples of Au-Ag-Te epithermal and porphyry mineralisation (Cioacă et al. 2014). Previous studies on the region indicate that the magmatism is not directly related to subduction, despite being predominantly calc-alkaline in nature and bearing the geochemical hallmarks of subduction. Instead, various groups have argued that the magmas are produced by partially melting metasomatised mantle during crustal extension (Harris et al. 2013; Seghedi et al. 2007).

Metaliferi shares many characteristics with Cripple Creek, Colorado, which we are currently studying as part of a large project on tellurium geochemistry. Here, prolonged calc-alkaline magmatism was followed by post-subduction, alkaline magmas that produced world-class Au-Ag-Te ores. The PhD will extend the study to Metaliferi, and work with the research team to compare and contrast the magmatic evolution of the ore-forming systems in both regions.

Our novelty will be through determining how Te behaves, and whether the ore-stage magmatism did indeed originate in the metasomatised mantle. The extended magmatic histories of both regions mean that there will be a cumulate pile in the lower crust, which is likely to be hydrous (Davidson et al. 2007; Smith 2014) and ore-element bearing (Jenner et al. 2010). Dehydration melting of this assemblage during extension would generate calk-alkaline to alkaline magmas, and the fractionation of the precursor magmas may serve as a pre-concentration step for Au and Te in particular. Such a process has been suggested for Cripple Creek (Kelley et al 2002), and we are currently investigating how Te in particular would behave during such a series of events.

This project thus contributes to a growing body of work around the world, across multiple institutions that the lower crust is an active, dynamic part of magmatism at arcs during and after subduction, and not just an inert fractionated phase.

NIGL
S333 When did crustal melting form the soft centre at the heart of the Himalaya?

Student: Stacy Phillips

BGS Supervisor: Dr Nick Roberts

University Supervisor: Dr Tom Argles

DTP: CENTA, The Open University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stacyphillips

Major mountain belts are contortions of the Earth’s crust, ravaged by gravity. Rocks buried in these zones soften, stretch and melt, with drastic consequences for their mechanical strength. Just a few percent of partial melt can dramatically weaken the continental crust1 and rapidly change the evolution of the mountain belt.

In the Himalaya, research on granites has mainly focused on conspicuous, pale bodies of Miocene-aged granites (leucogranites). These magmas formed when fertile rocks were rapidly exhumed from the mid-crust, decompressed and melted. However, these melts were a symptom of that dramatic exhumation, not its cause. Clues to what triggered that exhumation in the Himalayan core must lie in earlier events.

Sporadic evidence for earlier melting has been recognised along the entire Himalayan chain from Pakistan to Bhutan2. These cryptic, deformed kyanite-bearing leucogranites and partly-molten gneisses (migmatites) crystallized during Paleogene prograde burial and heating. However, such evidence is commonly overlooked among rocks with textures heavily reworked during Neogene mountain-building.

Understanding Paleogene crustal melting in these youthful mountains is therefore key for establishing the tipping point at which crustal thickening was overtaken by exhumation3. Moreover the spatial distribution of such melting will help fingerprint the underlying tectonic mechanism that drove the tectonic extrusion (critical taper, wedge tectonics or channel flow).

This project aims to interrogate field relations and mineral assemblages to define melt reactions during heating in the crystalline core of the Himalaya.

Results from the project will yield insights into viscosity changes in both the Paleogene Himalaya and older collisional orogens, providing critical constraints on thermomechanical models that attempt to explain how all mountain belts evolve.

S338 Provenance of the late Quaternary loess along the middle and lower Danube River, Europe

Student: Kaja Fenn

BGS Supervisor: Dr Ian Millar

University Supervisor: Prof David S G Thomas

DTP: Oxford, University of Oxford

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaja-fenn-140216112

Dust is a crucial component of the Earth system. Its particles affect atmospheric radiative budgets, naturally fertilise oceans impacting the carbon cycle, and influence cloud formation. It also has a negative effect on human health. However, currently the IPCC views atmospheric dust as a substantial uncertainty in future climate models.

The fundamental aim of this research is to examine primary sources of loess in Central Europe over the last interglacial (MIS5)-glacial (MIS2) cycle. This will be addressed through a series of objectives:

  1. Examine the spatial differences in loess source along the course of the middle and lower reaches of the Danube River;
  2. Test the dust provenance variability within individual units, both loess and palaeosol;
  3. Assess dust provenance variability between loess and palaeosol units; and
  4. Determine the main dust transport pathways during the late Quaternary period.

Various sites will be investigated, including loess sequences and modern day river sediments, in sufficient numbers to achieve the high temporal resolution and spatial coverage required to satisfy the aims, whilst meeting time and financial constraints. Sites will be selected along the middle and lower reaches of the Danube River (Hungary, Serbia and Romania or Bulgaria) focusing on the junctions of the Danube and its tributaries (e.g. Tiza, Drava, Sava, Morava). For each of the tributaries and the Danube modern day samples will also be collected from exposed alluvium, sand bars or river waters upstream from selected loess sites.

Each site will be sampled from the last interglacial palaeosol to the end of the glacial period. This will be guided by the reported chronostratigraphy of the area and visual assessment in the field. A high resolution sampling approach will be adopted, based on selected sites. Sample sizes will vary depending on the need to construct a chronology and reported potential heavy mineral yield.

Reliable independent chronology is crucial for studies of any past environments and climates. Firstly, wiggle matching with other sites or palaeoclimatic archives based on proxies e.g. grain size rather than absolute chronologies, have lead to incorrect interpretations of the regional picture and global patterns. Further it has been shown erroneous assumptions were made regarding the continuity and age of loess deposits. Well developed chronologies are required to connect all sites and address the timing of changes, leads and lags. Optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL) lends itself to loess sediment as it uses common minerals, quartz and feldspars and can determine the time of grain deposition. In European loess quartz is reported to reach its saturation levels around 50ka, potentially limiting its application. Therefore for older sediments the use of post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence (post IR-IRSL) on feldspars, which range potentially extends to 180ka, is considered an advantageous approach.

Most analysis in Europe thus far has focused on bulk sample geochemistry. Despite the benefits of this approach in characterising sources and sediment itself, post and prior depositional changes can alter the provenance signal. Further in some cases the geochemical makeup reflects a mix of multiple sources, demonstrating that bulk sampling alone often cannot pinpoint individual sources. As this has been the most widely used method in Europe, it inevitably precluded identification of loess sources.

Recently an alternative single grain approach has been utilised in provenance research on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Single grain techniques, focused on U-Pb dating of detrital zircons, are much more appropriate for identifying source regions and verifying inter-sample variations as a single grain can have only one source. It has led to the disproving of the most commonly held theory that deserts to the North of the Chinese Loess Plateau were not the source of the material. It is important to note that these two approaches could be used in combination, to offer a much more holistic picture of the sediment history.

Geochemical analysis will also focus on Rare Earth Elements (REE) patterns. It will provide an initial evaluation of geochemical make up and enable a comparison with older studies. The REE composition have been shown to be well preserved in a terrestrial setting and not affected by river transport making them useful for this study. Further analysis of REE in Hungary noted regional differences between loess and potential sources.

To complement single grain analysis heavy mineral assemblages will be produced. The multiple development phases of Carpathians and Alps should lead to varying heavy mineral assemblages, if loess comes from multiple areas. This would also enable a comparison with an array of existing source data and the assessment of potential weathering, diagenesis and sediment transport mechanics. Finally, certain minerals can also be indicative of sources.

Single grain methods will include U-Pb dating of detrital zircons, which is well established in loess provenance research. Zircon crystals are formed predominantly in igneous, particularly plutonic, rocks. The obtained date reflects the age of crystallisation of a grain and therefore the igneous or mountain building event to which they can be matched. The Alps and Carpathians were predominantly created during the Alpine Orogeny, though parts date to Hercynian events as well as to Precambrian. As the mountains were created in phases, zircon dating should identify the sources of each phase. One study of loess zircons in Europe was able to show differences between sources and loess sections, though the sample size was too small to provide conclusive answers.

Lastly, detrital garnet geochemistry will be used as a single grain provenance indicator. Garnet end-members are diagnostic of metamorphic rocks, therefore providing a complementary tool to igneous sourced zircons. Further they are one of the most abundant detrital heavy minerals, with relatively high preservation potential. Heavy mineral assemblage studies in the Carpathians have also shown that garnets are particularly abundant. They have long been used as a provenance tool in geology, but in only three studies of loess and desert environments.

This research project expects to have following outcomes by the end of the project.

  • To critically evaluate existing provenance practices in loess community
  • To develop new source identification method for application in loess provenance studies
  • To identify source(s) of loess in the middle and lower Danube
  • To analyse spatial distribution and temporal provenance of the late Quaternary dust
  • To assess interplay between surface processes and atmospheric conditions
  • To determine relationship between loess deposition and rivers
  • To reconstruct regional atmospheric patterns (incl. palaeowind direction) throughout the last glacial-interglacial cycle
S330 Subduction and exhumation of the Tso Morari dome, Ladakh, Himalaya

Student: Anna Bidgood

BGS Supervisor: Dr Nick Roberts

University Supervisor: Prof Mike Searle

DTP: Oxford, University of Oxford

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-bidgood-0b950a56

It is known that continental material can be subducted to depths in excess of 100 km during continental. Crustal rocks that have been to such depths experience ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) metamorphism, and are characterised by distinctive eclogite facies mineral assemblages that may include key index minerals such as coesite (the high-pressure equivalent of quartz) or even diamond. Although these assemblages are unstable at lower pressures, rocks containing partly preserved UHP minerals are found in numerous collision zones around the world, demonstrating that it is possible to return them to the surface. Continental crust is less dense than oceanic crust and mantle, so that buoyancy most probably plays a role in its exhumation. A number of exhumation mechanisms have been proposed, for example: buoyant return flow back up the slab-mantle interface, extensional exhumation, diapiric upwelling. The conditions that control depth of subduction, preservation and exhumation are not fully understood. UHP assemblages are known from over 15 mountain belts ranging from Proterozoic-Cambrian to Pliocene. However, these rare outcrops are generally discrete and discontinuous, making it difficult to get a representative picture of subsurface mechanisms.

Eclogite-facies assemblages can be formed from continental silicic material or mafic material. Many examples record eclogite-facies metamorphism in mafic bodies (dykes?) in the leading edge of continental margins which have been subducted to UHP depths. Continental subduction can occur beneath island arcs (Kohistan, Pakistan), beneath an ocean plate (Oman) or at a continent-continent collision zone (Western Gneiss region, Kaghan Valley, Kokchetav metamorphic terrain, etc). The relative timing of metamorphism in relation to collision varies across mountain belts. For example, pre collisional metamorphism and exhumation (Oman), or post collisional metamorphism (Himalaya). In the Himalayas, the timing of continental collision is thought to be at 50 Ma based on evidence from the timing of ophiolite obduction, deep sea sediments unconformably overlain by continental sediments and high pressure blueschists. The two UHP terrains of the Himalaya are situated in the western Himalaya (Kaghan in Pakistan and the Tso Morari in Ladakh). The suture zone is exposed in the western Himalayan region, Ladakh. Ophiolites are exposed in the Indian passive margin (Spontang) and along the suture (Nidar), adjacent to Tethyan passive continental margin (Permian-Cretaceous) which subsequently underwent crustal thickening, resulting in regional Barrovian metamorphism.

The Tso Morari Complex (TMC) is situated adjacent to the Nidar ophiolite and forms a north Himalayan dome with regional metamorphism up to sillimanite grade, enclosing blocks and boudins of mafic eclogites in the lowermost unit. This region was structurally mapped by Epard & Steck 2008. Detailed pressure-temperature-time (P-T-t) work was undertaken by Sigoyer et al. 2004, St-Onge et al. 2013, etc. However the range of sampling is extremely limited. Their work showed that the mafic boudins in the Tethyan continental shelf reached UHP conditions at 50.8 Ma and were exhumed at plate tectonic rates of around 12mma-1 , similar to those published for Kaghan, Pakistan.

Given the results of previous P-T-t work, the detailed structural mapping and the limited sampling localities, this project proposes to study a transect across the Tso Morari complex, from NE-SW across the exhumed subduction zone. By collecting a wide range of samples from throughout the Tso Morari Complex, the petrological observations made on the single outcrop can be compared to other localities up to 50km away from the suture zone. The abundance of mafic eclogite pods across the complex provides us with a unique window into the 4D evolution of the subduction zone. We will be able to infer what goes on inside a subducted slice of continental crust during its burial and return to surface, in terms of the geodynamical mechanisms as well as the petrological evolution.

S335 Testing tectonic-climate interactions using sedimentary records in the Tarim Basin, China

Student: Chris Kneale

BGS Supervisor: Dr Ian Millar

University Supervisor: Dr Y Najman

DTP: ENVISION, Lancaster

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-kneale-b570b039

This project will use the sediment record in the Tarim Basin, China, to document regional climate change during development of the northern Tibetan plateau. Himalayan-Tibet evolution is a type example of continental collision and climate-tectonic interactions. The plateau's uplift is considered to have caused regional climate change, by deflection of wind systems, intensification of the monsoon, and retreat of the adjacent Paratethys ocean. Yet a knowledge of the mechanisms and timing of the plateau’s evolution, needed to assess its interaction with climate, and to contribute to our understanding of crustal deformation processes, are poorly known. Similarly, the influence and timing of increased monsoon intensity and retreat of the Paratethys ocean on the regional climate is debated. Better constraints to both timing of plateau evolution and regional climate change are required in order to test their proposed coupling.

S331 Unravelling the tectonothermal history of the Aegean orogeny

Student: Thomas Lamont

BGS Supervisor: Dr Nick Roberts

University Supervisor: Prof Mike Searle

DTP: Oxford, University of Oxford

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-lamont-64404b85

Metamorphic core complexes, composed of low-angle detachment faults above high-grade metamorphic core rocks, are a geological phenomena occurring across most continents, and are traditionally thought to form in response to lithospheric extension, notably in regions of extending crust such as the Basin and Range. The associated high-grade metamorphism and crustal anatexis is attributed to mid-crustal flow and diapirism, contemporaneous with crustal extension. Many core complexes are typically assigned to these same extensional origins, including the Cyclades in the Aegaean. Preliminary mapping and structural observations on Naxos and Ios suggest the opposite, that the core complex formed by compression, prior to regional extension. This is similar to other lesser known compressional core complexes such as the North Himalayan Domes. Thus, the aim of this project is to better constrain the nature of the core complexes in the Aegean, the tectonic processes that lead to their formation, and the pre-core complex evolution of the region. These results will have considerable implications for the geological evolution of the Mediterranean, and also, further our understanding of the way the continental crust behaves, in particular, the architecture and timing by which compressional tectonics is switched to that dominated by extension. This project will combine extensive field mapping, with petrology, metamorphic phase modelling and U-Th-Pb geochronology. The islands of Naxos and Tinos will form the main focus of the project, and Syros and Ios will also be visited for comparison and development of regional models.

2015 student cohort

All of our PhDs that started in October 2015 are in collaboration with a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Further information can be found on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page.

Centre for Environmental Geochemistry
S315 Dynamics of metal nanoparticles in soil environments

Student: Rebecca Draper

BGS Supervisor: Andy Tye

University Supervisor: L Bailey, Nottingham

Climate and landscape change
S313 Morphogenesis and development in the Ediacaran macrobiota

Student: Frances Dunn

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: P Donoghue, Bristol

Ediacaran website

S302 Investigating Bering Sea oceanographic controls on the Middle Pleistocene Transition

Student: Savannah Worne

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: S Kender, Nottingham

Earth hazards and observatories
S304 Separating magnetic field sources using the Swarm satellite constellation

Student: Ashley Smith

BGS Supervisor: Sue Macmillan

University Supervisor: K Whaler, Edinburgh

S305 Forecasting changes in Earth's magnetic field

Student: Maurits Metman

BGS Supervisor: Ciaran Beggan

University Supervisor: P Livermore, Leeds

S328 Community based, non structural flood risk management for Malawi

Student: Robert Sakic Trogrlic

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Duncan

University Supervisor: Wright Grant

DTP: Non-DTP Heriot-Watt University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertsakictrogrlic

Energy and marine geoscience
S307 Glacial sculpting and post glacial drowning of the Celtic Sea

Student: Edward Lockhart

BGS Supervisor: Claire Mellett

University Supervisor: J Scourse, Bangor

S319 Deepwater geo-hazards from bottom-currents: High-resolution geophysics, geotechnics and the bedform-velocity matrix

Student: Philip Green

BGS Supervisor: Dr Joana Gafeira

University Supervisor: Prof Dorrik Stow

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, Heriot-Watt University

Bottom currents have a strong influence on deepwater contourite sedimentation and erosion along continental margins. They affect the geotechnical properties of the sediment and the integrity of subsea cables, pipelines and other seafloor installations. They are of key interest to geo-hazard mapping and mitigation in challenging deepwater environments. However, very little work has so far addressed these specific issues related to bottom-current hazards. We suggest that fundamental advances and improved understanding can be made through the integration of flow properties, contourite sedimentation and geotechnical properties.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/phillip-green-67b280115

S320 Linking rifting history and magmatic cyclicity West of Britain (WoB)

Student: Faye Walker

BGS Supervisor: Dr Margaret Stewart

University Supervisor: Dr Nick Schofield

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, University of Aberdeen

Volcanic rifted margins evolve by extension accompanied by intrusive and extrusive magmatism, typically over short periods of time during breakup. Current views of such systems are commonly based on regional, often margin-wide studies, often limited by data and/or data types. However, a growing amount of high quality regional seismic data WoB, combined with recent wells (e.g. Brugdan, Lagavulin, Anne-Marie) that have penetrated considerable thickness's (km's) of Palaeogene aged basalt-subcrop, allows us, for the first time, to specifically understand and link the high resolution magmatic stratigraphy to rifting events and basin evolution. The tectonic and volcanic evolution of the basins WoB, and in particular the Rockall and NE Rockall basins, has remained enigmatic. In terms of hydrocarbons, a limited number of wells have targeted the Rockall, although discoveries (e.g. Benbecula), have indicated that a petroleum system exists. With recent success of exploration in close association with volcanic stratigraphy (e.g. intra-lava Rosebank field) several oil companies are currently re-evaluating the Rockall Trough. Although, without a detailed volcanic stratigraphic framework and understanding of its relationship to regional rifting, a major challenge in the regional correlation of strata still exist in exploration of this region. Importantly, recent work (Hole et al. in press), based on regional geochemical and chronostratigraphic analysis, has indicated that the magmatism in the Rockall Trough and onshore are associated with at least two rifting events, during end-Cretaceous to Palaeocene times. Between each magmatic event, a hiatus in activity occurs, starting at around sequence T36 (pre-chron 24; ˜ 58.4ma) with re-establishment of magmatism at sequence T40 (˜ 56.1Ma). It is also apparent that there is a linked cyclicity in the style, composition and duration of magmatic activity associated across each rifting event, suggesting a possible underlying genetic control which may, or may not be, plume related. These two rifting events should be manifested in the lava field stratigraphy. Using regional high quality seismic data, combined with a unique availability of detailed well control through basalt/lava subcrop WoB (an aspect often unavailable in rifting studies), accompanied with biostratigraphical and geochemical control throughout the province, will allow the detailed evolutionary history of the basin rifting, and its incipient relationship to the magmatism to be linked and elucidated.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-walker-68270796

S321 The influence of halokinesis on shallow-marine sediments in salt basins: The Fulmar Formation, Central North Sea, UK

Student: James Foey

BGS Supervisor: Thomas Randles

University Supervisor: Dr Ian Stimpton

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, Keele University

The Upper Jurassic Fulmar Formation hosts significant accumulations of hydrocarbons across the central North Sea, with currently over sixty discoveries and developments within this single play. Despite this success, the number of exploration wells targeting Fulmar plays is decreasing, despite ample opportunities for continued exploration. The Fulmar sediments accumulated within Late Jurassic salt-collapse basins, formed by dissolution of mobile Zechstein salt walls. However, the genesis of the play is complicated, as the formation of an economic reservoir requires a carefully balanced rate of sediment supply and salt-wall dissolution: if the rate of sediment supply compared to that of subsidence is too low, the basin may be filled with deep-water fine-grained sediment, but if the rate of sediment supply is too high, sediment may be scoured from the basin during sediment bypass.

This project will investigate the influence of halokinesis upon the sedimentology of the Fulmar Formation by examining the temporal and spatial distribution of facies between the collapse basins across the Central North Sea, and their relationship to the magnitude of salt dissolution (subsidence rate), relative sediment input rates and, where possible, the timing of basin formation. From these analyses, the project will construct depositional models that describe the likely depositional environments and distribution of facies, both within the Jurassic collapse-basins and between them. In so doing, the work will elucidate the relative influence of sediment supply, halokinesis and subsidence upon facies distribution, and produce predictive models of likely reservoir distribution, quality and connectivity that are applicable to the Fulmar Formation and similar salt-influenced shallow-marine sediment hydrocarbon plays.

The project will focus primarily on the study of core and wireline data from well penetrations of the Fulmar Formation and associated stratigraphy, and 3D seismic data collected from across the Central North Sea, to examine the nature and to constrain the lateral extent of the Fulmar within the collapse basins. Typically, where field development has taken place, multiple close-spaced wells penetrate the Fulmar Formation, providing a level of spatial coverage that will allow detailed observation of lateral facies variations within a single collapse basin. To supplement this desk-based study, a single field season to observe shallow marine-halokinetic interactions will constrain lateral facies variations and the relationship of architectural elements within the depositional system. Likely candidate field areas include: La Popa Basin, Mexico; Wonoka Formation, Australia; Mississippi delta.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-foey-56709466

S322 Shale Gas in the UK – Geochemical mapping of critical shale properties across Carboniferous basins

Student: Jack Walker

BGS Supervisor: Dr Jan Hennissen and Edward Hough

University Supervisor: Dr Cees van der Land

CDT: UK Oil and Gas, Newcastle University

The last decade has seen vast changes in the perceived volumes of global hydrocarbon resources. This has come about through the realisation that with modern technology and advanced understanding of subsurface strata, it is now possible to produce hydrocarbons directly from their source rocks, which are one of the commonly termed unconventional resources. The focus of exploration for these unconventional resources has shifted to the accurate identification and prediction of the occurrence of organically rich source rocks, their mineralogy and thermal maturity. Petroleum geochemistry and shale sedimentology/ mineralogy have an important role to play in advancing this knowledge and improving the foundation for quantitative estimates. The area of particular interest lies in North West England where Carboniferous rocks occur at some depth in the subsurface. These rocks of Mississippian-Pennsylvanian age include the Bowland, Edale, Holywell Shale and top part of Craven Group of the Pennine – Irish Basin.

Recent research at Newcastle University and APT-UK confirmed small scale heterogeneities in thermal maturity and organic facies composition across the Bowland Basin, often with unexpectedly low levels of maturity, in many instances equivalent to the early mature window of oil production. This heterogeneity, both spatially but also stratigraphically, potentially has large implications on the overall gas potential of the basin, requiring more detailed research using a combined geochemical (organic and inorganic), microscopic (vitrinite reflectance, spore colour), sedimentological, fracture development and gas storage (micro-porosity) approach.

The project will integrate core, well and field data to produce detailed regional facies models that link petrological properties to petrophysical behaviour. This integration will enable to compile a comprehensive set of samples from shale sections across North West England. This project combines expertise at Newcastle University, Durham University, and Applied Petroleum Technology (APT) UK, based in Wales. The project will integrate core, well and field data to produce detailed regional facies models that link petrological properties to petrophysical behaviour. This integration will enable to compile a comprehensive set of samples from shale sections across North West England. A central outcome of this study will be detailed maturity and organic facies maps of the Carboniferous that can be used for improved estimation of total gas potential and identification of sweet spots for shale gas production.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jack-walker-26514083

Engineering geology
S300 Early warning of landslide events using computer vision and geophysical image analysis

Student: Luke Sibbett

BGS Supervisor: Jon Chambers

University Supervisor: L Bai, Nottingham

S301 Revealing hydrological and bioeochemical heterogeneity at the groundwater-surface water interface using geophysics

Student: Paul McLachlan

BGS Supervisor: Jon Chambers

University Supervisor: A Binley, Lancaster

Environmental modelling
S299 Long-term Morphodynamics and sedimentation of the Holderness Coast and Humber Estuary

Student: Chloe Morris

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Barkwith

University Supervisor: T Coulthard, Hull

S303 PRELUDE: PREdictive modelling of lead concentrations using g-base datasets for urban environments

Student: Sarah Donoghue

BGS Supervisor: Fiona Fordyce

University Supervisor: M Graham, Edinburgh

S310 Glacial, hydrological and landscape change in a deglaciating catchment: Virkisjökull, Iceland

Student: Jon MacKay

BGS Supervisor: Chris Jackson

University Supervisor: N Barrand, Birmingham

S316 Trust, risk communication format and the nature of uncertainty

Student: Sarah Jenkins

BGS Supervisor: Murray Lark

University Supervisor: A Harris, University College London

S317 Geochemical modelling of environmental processes in rare earth element mining

Student: Alexandra Crawford

BGS Supervisor: Barbara Palumbo-Roe

University Supervisor: S Banwart, Sheffield

Minerals and waste
S311 BLUE MINING: What drives hydrothermal systems and how does it vary over time?

Student: Iain Stobbs

BGS Supervisor: Mr Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: B Murton, Southampton

NIGL
S298 Tracking solar nebula evolution with analyses of single chondrules

Student: Timothy Gregory

BGS Supervisor: Stephen Noble

University Supervisor: T Elliott, Bristol/Natural History Museum

S306 Vestiges of the Earliest Crust; Crustal Evolution in the Yilgarn Craton, Australia

Student: Leanne Staddon

BGS Supervisor: Matt Horstwood

University Supervisor: I Parkinson, Bristol

S308 Crust-mantle exchange in orogenic lower crust: the record in high temperature eclogites

Student: Eleni Wood

BGS Supervisor: Nick Roberts

University Supervisor: C Warren, Open

S309 Characterising the chemical and physical properties of the UK's stockpile of depleted, natural and low-enriched uranium and its behaviour and fate on disposal

Student: Matthew Druce

BGS Supervisor: Matt Horstwood

University Supervisor: D Read, Loughborough

S312 Investigating the role of oceanic plateaus in early continental growth

Student: David Cavell

BGS Supervisor: Ian Millar

University Supervisor: A Hastie, Birmingham

2014 student cohort

All of our PhDs that started in October 2014 are in collaboration with a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Further information can be found on our Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) page.

Climate and landscape change
S221 Millennial-scale variability in ice-ocean-climate interaction in the Sub-Antarctic SW Atlantic – a multi-proxy study of intermediate water production and Patagonian ice sheet variability over the last glacial

Student: Jenny Roberts

BGS Supervisor: Sev Kender

University Supervisor: Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S290 Ultrasound spectrometry of the aggregation of asphaltenes during the formation of water-in-oil emulsions

Student: Aleksandra Svalova

BGS Supervisor: Chris Vane

University Supervisor: Geoffrey Abbott, Newcastle School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

S286 Effects of changing climate on an northern peatland: greenhouse gas sink or source

Student: Kerry Simcock

BGS Supervisor: Chris Vane

University Supervisor: Geoffrey Abbott, Newcastle School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

S266 Constraining the marine environment of the Cambrian metazoan adaptive radiation

Student: Thomas Hearing

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: Mark Williams, University of Leicester, Geology

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.

Aims and objectives: The first detailed record of Cambrian sea temperatures, and therefore provide a context for the Cambrian adaptive radiation.

S268 Deep sea temperature and ice volume change across the mid-Pleistocene climate transition: Insights from the Bering Sea

Student: Henrieka Detlef

BGS Supervisor: Sev Kender

University Supervisor: Sindia Sosdian, Cardiff University, Earth and Ocean Sciences

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 δ1.15 to 0.82 Ma precedes the major expansion of ice sheets and the frequency shift from 41 ka to δ100 ka glaciations at δ0.9-0.7 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.

S272 Measuring Micro-Aggregate Bond Energy for Improved Modelling of Soil Fragmentation

Student: Rachel Efrat

BGS Supervisor: Barry Rawlins

University Supervisor: John Quinton, Lancaster University, Environmental Science

Soil aggregates control many soil properties on which our understanding of major challenges facing society depend; how much air or water the soil can hold in order to grow sufficient crops to feed ourselves? How much reactive carbon is preserved in soil to help mitigate climate change? How long does that carbon stay there? Researchers have established some of the rules which determine how reactive carbon passes from plants to the soil and back to the atmosphere. We also understand some of the rules governing how aggregates break down into smaller fragments. We don't understand how the strength of the bonds between soil aggregates controls their fragmentation, which is crucial for the preservation of reactive carbon and also how soils can be managed in a sustainable way. Understanding what controls the strength of bonds between soil aggregates is complicated because fundamental soil properties are so varied, and also because soils are subject to a variety of forces (ploughing, burrowing fauna, shrinking and swelling forces). Soil minerals such as a variety of clay and iron containing minerals form bonds with organic matter, and these bonds require more or less energy to be broken. These bonds also change in strength over time as this organic matter gets older. To make it easier to understand how various soil properties control the strength of aggregate bonds, we need to study a range of minerals and organic matter to create soil aggregates in the laboratory using a method developed previously and then measure the energy required to disrupt the bonds holding the aggregates together using a new measurement system. Researchers have established simple rules in a mathematical model to describe how soils fragment. The student will use the data from experiments to improve this model. This is necessary so we can predict how soil structure - and all the properties associated with it - are modified in the real world.

S281 Basin-scale mineral and fluid processes at a palaeo-platform margin, Lower Carboniferous, UK

Student: Catherine Breislin

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Cathy Hollis, University of Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

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 palaeofluid (Carboniferous - Permian) flow paths in the dolomitised platform margin can provide insight into the extent of hydrocarbon migration out of shale-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 and 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 turbines in the Derbyshire Peak District. The wind turbines are founded on dolomitized limestone and are situated immediately to the north of Carsington Reservoir, which is underlain by Namurian shales. The starting hypothesis is that the source of the fluids was initially deep seawater and basinal brines carrying hydrocarbons and 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.

Earth hazards and observatories
S261 Toward a universal model for lava emplacement

Student: Nathan Magnall

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Mike James, Lancaster University, Environmental Science

Our understanding of the processes behind the emplacement of silica-poor (e.g. basalt) and silica-rich (e.g. rhyolite) lavas currently differ significantly. This project will close this gap by deriving a generalized multi-scale model for lava emplacement, based on observations, textural analyses and 3D computer reconstructions of flows at Cordón Caulle, Chile and Mt. Etna, Sicily. Fieldwork will be carried out at both locations to enable characterisation of flow processes over scales of mm- to 100s-m. The results will be combined with laboratory analyses to quantify degassing, and satellite data to provide km-scale process information. State-of-the-art analytical facilities and novel computer modelling approaches will be used whilst working with international experts from the U.S., Italy and the U.K. The results of the project will have wide implications for our understanding of flow emplacement both on Earth and on other planets. For details on our preliminary study, see Tuffen, James et al. (2013), Nature Comms., 4, 2709, doi:10.1038/ncomms3709.

Flow processes in low-viscosity basaltic lavas are broadly understood as eruptions are commonly observed. However, high-viscosity lavas (e.g. rhyolites) are seldom witnessed and poorly understood. The supervisors have recently collected the first observations of an advancing rhyolite lava flow, during the 2011-13 eruption of Cordón Caulle, Chile (preliminary study: Tuffen, James et al, Nature Comms., 2013). With this being the most silica-rich lava flow ever observed, we now have a unique opportunity to develop a generalised model for lava flow emplacement, based on observations and measurements taken of active flows.

A central challenge is to understand how degassing, crystallization and shear localization interact within lavas. Such effects are critically important in high-viscosity flows, leading to highly-heterogeneous flow and gas escape, and affect processes operative over scales of millimetres to kilometres. This project will combine existing and new field data, laboratory analyses and satellite imagery to develop a multi-scale model of high-silica lava emplacement processes firmly linked to existing understanding of lower-viscosity lavas. The resulting universal emplacement model will have broad application, from geologists studying terrestrial flow fields to planetary scientists, who are beginning to discover high-viscosity lavas on Mars in the latest satellite images. Insights gained into degassing and strain localisation during flow will have significant additional implications for our understanding of magma ascent, and ultimately, how volcanoes erupt – whether they produce explosive ash or effusive lava.

S262 Fissures and fountains: magma dynamics in basaltic conduits

Student: Thomas Jones

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Ed Llewellin, Durham University, Earth Sciences

Basaltic eruptions are often spectacular, are rarely violently explosive, but can have serious impacts. Eruptions are highly variable in their vigour, duration and eruptive style; some produce spectacular pyroclastic explosions, some effuse gently, and all erupt abundant gas. Analogue experiments indicate that complex, multiphase fluid dynamic processes in the shallow subsurface explain this variability. This study 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.

S263 The sources, mechanisms and timing of volatile loss accompanying basaltic volcanism

Student: Catherine Gallagher

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Kevin Burton, Durham University, Earth Sciences

Continental flood basalt (CFB) volcanism is characterised by the repeated eruption of huge batches of magma, producing enormous basalt provinces (105-106 km3) over relatively brief intervals of time, and delivering large masses of volcanic gas to the atmosphere [e.g. 1]. The release of gases and aerosols during CFB volcanism is thought to have had a significant impact on the atmosphere, ocean chemistry and climate – and many have linked such eruptions with mass extinction events that punctuate the history of life on Earth [e.g. 2]. Some of the key factors influencing atmospheric chemistry and the environmental impact of continental flood basalt eruptions are:

  1. The source of volatiles to the magma – because of the pressure dependence of sulphur (S) solubility in melts, mantle derived magmas should be undersaturated in S when they arrive at the surface. However, CFBs are normally S saturated and this must occur either by near-surface fractional crystallisation or by assimilation of crustal rocks, each of which are likely to deliver a very different volatile budget to the melt.
  2. The duration of volatile release, into the atmosphere – because the residence time of many gases and aerosols in the atmosphere is on the order of weeks up to 3 years, and their impact on the atmospheric chemistry is thus a function of the duration of atmospheric loading (e.g. [1]). This, in turn, will depend upon the extent and duration of S saturation in the melt (that results from fractional crystallization or crustal assimilation).
  3. The mechanism of gas and aerosol release into the atmosphere. This depends, in part, on the chemistry of the melt (in particular, oxygen fugacity fO2) determining which gaseous species (H2S and SO2) are actually present [3], but also, in part, on the mechanism of transfer to the atmosphere. Where the release of sulphur may occur via gaseous species or else via the emission of crystalline sulfide particles (FeS2) or sulfates in aerosols, each of which will have a very different impact on the environment and climate (e.g. [4]).

In turn the volatile content of the magma will play a role in magma dynamics, and the style and nature of the eruption – and volatile degassing may ultimately be responsible for the initiation of eruption.

Over recent years considerable progress has been made in determining the precise timing of CFB volcanism, relative to climatic/biotic events (e.g. [5]). However, the timescale of atmospheric loading with gases and aerosols is considerably shorter than the recurrence interval of flood-basalt eruptions in an individual province [6]. The critical question then becomes whether it is possible that the atmospheric effects from a single eruption are sufficient to trigger an environmental response that results in significant climate change and/or a biotic crisis, or if 2 or 3 closely spaced events are required. Such information can only be obtained by dissecting an individual flood basalt event.

The 187Re-187Os isotope system is exceptionally sensitive to the presence of crustal material in mantle derived melts, while the extremely high parent/daughter ratios of many basaltic minerals can be used to reveal precise age information and details of equilibration between coexisting phases [7]. Recent results indicate that for individual flood basalt flows both the Columbia river and Deccan provinces, the earliest melts are affected by crustal assimilation suggesting a clear role for this process in driving melts to volatile saturation, and that immiscible sulphide (due to S oversaturation) was present in those early melts [8]. Work undertaken thus far in both the Deccan and Columbia river basalts indicates that contamination of the earliest melts is a common phenomena. However, the approach adopted here requires the presence of phenocrysts (rare in the Deccan) and for this reason the proposed work will focus on porhyritic lava flows in the Columbia river) and modern analogues in Iceland, the Laki eruption (affected by crustal assimilation) and the Thorsja eruption (little crustal contamination).

The principal objectives of the research proposed here are to use a combination of isotope and petrological techniques to constrain:

The source of the volatiles, using the exceptional sensitivity of the 187Re-187Os to the presence of crustal material in the melt, linking that information with trace element and volatile measurements on coexisting phases (and melt inclusions), and assessing the impact of immiscible sulphide (due to excess S saturation) on early volatile release.

The relative duration of volatile release during volcanism using the 187Re-187Os isotope system to monitor variations in melt chemistry and volatile release that accompany mineral crystallisation during the eruption of an individual flow.

The mechanism of volatile release, in particular, which gaseous species are present and the mechanism of S transport, either as gases or crystalline sulfide particles and/or sulfates, traced using highly siderophile element (HSE) abundances, Cu, Z and S stable isotopes.

This information will then be used to make greatly improved estimates of the mass of sulphur (and other volatiles) released during individual flood basalt eruptions, and the consequences for atmospheric loading and climatic and environmental effects. This novel approach will make a significant contribution to a long-lived and polarised debate on the potentially deleterious effects of flood basalt volcanism on the atmosphere and biosphere and the causes of mass extinction events on Earth.

References

[1] Self, S. et al Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 248 (2006) 518-532.

[2] Thordarson, T. et al. Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pub. 453 (2009) 37-53.

[3] Burgisser, A., Scaillet, B. Nature 445 (2007) 194-197.

[4] Thordarsson, T., Self, S. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 74 (1996) 49-73.

[5] Chenet, A.-L. et al. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 263 (2007) 1-15.

[6] Widdowson, M. et al. Geol. Soc. Spec. Pub. (1997) 269-281.

[7] Gannoun, A. et al. Science 303 (2004) 70-72.

[8] Vye-Brown, et al. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 368 (2007) 183-194.

S284 The hidden hazard of melting ground-ice in Northern Iceland

Student: Costanza Morino

BGS Supervisor: Colm Jordan

University Supervisor: Matt Balme, The Open University, Earth and Environmental Sciences

S285 Soil moisture estimation: a new approach using multi-temporal satellite and airborne RADAR data

Student: Clare Bliss

BGS Supervisor: Colm Jordan

University Supervisor: Daniel Donoghue, Durham University, Geography

Engineering geology
S293 Geomorphology and landslide hazard assessments. Evaluating the control of landscape evolution on landslide hazards in the UK

Student: Steven Parry

BGS Supervisor: Vanessa Banks and Claire Dashwood

University Supervisor: Bill Murphy, Leeds School of Earth and Environment

S283 Laboratory earthquakes

Student: Christopher Harbord

BGS Supervisor: Sergio Vinciguerra

University Supervisor: Stefan Neilsen, Durham University, Earth Sciences

Understanding dynamic rupture propagation and friction is paramount for earthquake modelling and provide constraints for risk assessment. Evidence from seismology, field geology and lab studies point to dramatic frictional weakening during the fast seismic slip (Di Toro et al., 2011). The weakening is achieved after a variable amount of slip which decreases dramatically with increasing slip velocity, normal stress and, generally, the amount of frictional power dissipated by slip (Nielsen et al., 2010).

Under conditions typical of faults at several km depth, the 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.

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?

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.

Environmental modelling
S271 Understanding the interactions between adited groundwater sources and the Chalk aquifer under drought conditions, using the example of the River Colne Catchment and its groundwater sources

Student: Azucena Yebra

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Hughes

University Supervisor: Adrian Butler, Imperial College London, Civil and Environmental Engineering

In droughts the Chalk aquifer provides the largest water resource in southern England. Although Chalk often yields large quantities of water through high hydraulic conductivity zones, in some areas it doesn’t, and storage is poor. In these cases, e.g. the Colne valley, to improve yields horizontal adits (tunnels up to ~1 km long) were dug from vertical shafts. Affinity Water’s sources are such supplies, providing water to >0.5 million people.

In the Colne catchment groundwater is stored in the alluvial and glacial sands and gravels, the Palaeogene deposits, and Chalk. Recharge may be direct to the Chalk, via leakage from the Palaeogene, runoff from the London Clay, or indirect leakage from the gravels or the River Colne. The hydrogeology is complicated by karst development at the Palaeogene boundary. Understanding of drawdown and groundwater flow-path distributions to these sources is very poor. Under extreme droughts, the gravels may dewater, or the adits themselves become depressurised and even dewater causing non-linear behaviour. This area is poorly studied and to understand the relationships between the adit systems and the aquifer detailed modelling is required. Groundwater level, and pump test data for the shafts and observation boreholes are available to validate such models.

Zhang and Lerner1 have addressed the simulation of flow in aquifer-adit systems, but their model2 could not represent complex adit-borehole geometries, adit dewatering and seepage face development.

Aim & objectives: The aim of this project is to develop a new methodology to simulate adited systems that will allow improved assessment of yields during droughts. There are 4 key objectives:

  1. develop a detailed model of pressurised and gravity flow in borehole-adit systems;
  2. develop a method to couple this to a regional groundwater model;
  3. improve understanding of the hydrogeology of the Colne catchment and the important processes to model;
  4. apply the new model in the Colne, assess its performance under historic droughts, and quantify river flows and source yield under future climates.

Methodology:

  1. will be achieved by reviewing, selecting and modifying existing borehole and pipe flow models.
  2. will build upon work of an ongoing, joint Imperial-BGS PhD project, which has developed a linked model that simulates non-Darcian flow to vertical boreholes within regional aquifers3, using OpenMI model linkage tools (openmi.org) to couple a borehole model to a groundwater model. To address the complex geometries of adited sources unstructured finite volume schemes will be investigated to couple a pipe flow model to finite difference groundwater models.
  3. will be based on a review of previous research and a large hydrogeological dataset held by the Affinity Water and BGS.
  4. will be achieved using BGS groundwater models and those which the Affinity Water has access to. Future climate scenarios will be based on latest statistical downscaling methods developed by the NERC funded Changing Water Cycle HydEF project, led by Imperial.

References:

1. Zhang & Lerner, 2000, Groundwater 38(1);

2. Swain & Wexler, 1996, USGS Tech. of Wat.‐Res. Investigations, book 6; 3Upton et al, 2013, Modflow & More, Golden, June 2013.

S274 Chromium speciation, transport and fate in Clyde catchment soils, sediments and waters: understanding Cr mobility in urban-industrial environments

Student: Gavin Sim

BGS Supervisor: Barbara Palumbo-Roe

University Supervisor: Margaret Graham, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

Disposal of industrial wastes has caused chromium (Cr) contamination of soils/sediments and waters in the UK, US and other countries. Cr-waste is of concern because hexavalent Cr (CrVI) is highly carcinogenic. However, the processes controlling the environmental mobility of Cr remain only partially understood. This project aims to address these knowledge gaps using a Cr-impacted catchment in Glasgow as a case study to examine the mobility and uptake of Cr to two key receptors: surface waters and humans. Widespread CrVI contamination in SE Glasgow from chromite ore processing residue (COPR) originated from JJ White’s chemical works (1838-1968). Although some sites have been remediated, CrVI is still readily detected in ground- and surface water and there is concern about its impact on the environment and human health. Evidence from BGS’s geochemical investigations suggests that Cr from COPR made-ground/soils as well as contaminated groundwater has a detrimental impact on sediment/water quality draining into the River Clyde. Indeed, surface water concentrations of up to 6.28 mg CrVI L-1 have been found in the Polmadie Burn adjacent to the JJ White’s site. The highly reducing, organic-rich burn sediments with up to 1.25% w/w total Cr are currently thought to be acting as a sink, but there is concern about the impact of drainage on the future fate of the stored Cr. Via field and laboratory measurements, this project will determine the key processes controlling both retention and release of CrVI from the soils/sediments, its transport in surface waters and eventual fate. Focus will be on processes such as (i) reduction of CrVI, e.g. by natural organic matter (NOM), microbes or FeII, which may aid CrIII retention in the soil/sediment; and (ii) complexation of CrIII (and perhaps CrVI) by NOM and/or reduction of FeIII oxides with which CrIII is associated, both of which can enhance transfer of Cr to the aqueous phase. The hydrological and biogeochemical processes which may enhance transfer of particulate, colloidal and truly dissolved forms of Cr from soils/sediments to the burn waters will be investigated. Water from the site is not used for drinking, but there is the potential for human exposure to chromium via contact with soil. Human exposure to soil-Cr can be via ingestion of soil directly or attached to home-grown vegetables as well as via inhalation of resuspended soil dust particulates. Chromium VI (the industrial form) is far more toxic to animals and humans than Cr III (found in most natural soils). To assess potential threats to humans, the project will determine the Cr VI/Cr III speciation present in soils. It will also examine the human bioaccessibility (amount transferred to the human body if the soil is ingested/inhaled) of soil Cr using laboratory-based extraction tests developed by BGS that mimic conditions in the stomach and the lung. Future plans for the site involve the possible culverting of the burn, which would potentially expose the Cr-polluted sediments to the atmosphere allowing suspension of dust particulates in air. Therefore, the project will examine the likely bioavailability of Cr in sediments from the site also. This work will contribute to optimising the bioavailability test methodologies being developed at BGS for Cr and to international understanding of the potential threats to human health from soil exposure.

S279 The effects of climate induced flood events on the mobility and bioaccessibility of potentially harmful elements, biological and radiological contaminants

Student: Diana McLaren

BGS Supervisor: Joanna Wragg

University Supervisor: David Copplestone, University of Stirling, Biological and Environmental Sciences

The effects of climate change are far reaching and likely to influence the lives of almost every citizen in the world. An impact of changing weather patterns is an increase in extreme flooding events and it is estimated that 2.5 million properties are at risk in England alone (Environment Agency, 2012). Incidences of severe weather events in the UK, including flooding of urban and rural environments and prolonged dry periods, are on the increase. Risks associated with flooding are recognised as a significant threat from climate change throughout the world. Depending on the frequency and magnitude flooding can be both beneficial and detrimental, flooding can maintain or enhance soil fertility by depositing fresh layers of alluvium and flushing salts out of soils. However, in some cases flooding of soils containing naturally or anthropogenically elevated concentrations of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) and deposition of contaminants from flood waters (e.g. pathogens from sewage and radionuclides from medical waste) may occur, mobilising contaminants to the extent that they are available for uptake by plants, animals and ultimately humans, highlighted by the analysis of floodwaters and sediments after hurricane Katrina (Abel et al., 2010). New literature is emerging investigating flooding induced contaminant fate & transport/mobility (Wragg and Palumbo-Roe, 2012) and a recent pilot study has shown that flooding events can increase environmental mobility and human uptake from naturally occurring PHE e.g. As and U both by 21% (Wragg, pers comm, 2013).

The BGS G-BASE data set and national soil/sediment archive and the Environment Agency Flood Risk Register will be used to identify a suitable study areas and used for further laboratory and field trial inundation simulations to evaluate the effects of flooding (wetting and drying) on the distribution, and human and environmental mobility of contaminants. A range of geo-chemical analysis techniques including total element digestions and analysis, human digestion availability, soil pH and gamma spectroscopy will be used and the results will be analysed using geostatistical, data modelling and risk-based management tools for assessing element distributions and populations, and hazards to environmental and human health. Training will be provided by the BGS the Geochemical Baselines & Medical Geology Team, the analytical laboratories, the registering University and where applicable via bespoke training courses.

The project aims to develop a process understanding of the fate and transport of contaminants impacting on the zone of human interaction by:

  • Geochemically characterising changes in the solid phase distribution and the human accessibility of chemical and biological contaminants before, during and after drying and wetting – a novel approach not previously investigated in detail; and,
  • Using predictive and mechanistic modelling to examine the results of new field and laboratory trials would improve our understanding of contaminant mobility and hazards in floodplains and the potential risks they pose

Abel, M.T. et al. 2010. Environmental, Geochemistry and Health, 32, 379-389.

Environment Agency. 2012. Catchment Flood Management Plans Annual Report 2012.

Wragg and Palumbo-Roe, 2011. Contaminant mobility as a result of sediment inundation. BGS Report OR/11/051.

Energy and marine geoscience
S288 Environmental assessment of deep-water sponge fields in relation to oil and gas activity: a west of Shetland case study

Student: Johanne Vad

BGS Supervisor: Sophie Green

University Supervisor: Murray Roberts, Heriot-Watt School of Life Sciences

S287 Unravelling the structural controls and consequent feedbacks on Permian and Mesozoic depositional systems in the Southern North Sea

Student: Ross Grant

BGS Supervisor: Dr Thomas Randles

University Supervisor: John Underhill and Rachel Jamieson, Heriot-Watt, Institute of Petroleum Engineering

S280 The Bowland Shale of the UK: development of diagenetic models for a major UK hydrocarbon reservoir

Student: Sarah Kenworthy

BGS Supervisor: Edward Hough

University Supervisor: Kevin Taylor, University of Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

S278 Sulfate reducing bacteria in CO2

Student: Hayden Morgan

BGS Supervisor: Simon Gregory

University Supervisor: David Large, University of Nottingham, Chemical and Environmental Engineering

The presence and activity of microbes in the deep subsurface is of concern to various industries including those involved in carbon capture and storage (CCS). A specific concern to the CCS industry is the negative impact of sulphate reducing bacteria and hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms and on the injection and storage of carbon dioxide. Microbial activity can cause corrosion of materials, reduced injection well performance and degeneration of hydrocarbon fields, which are costly to remedy. A key control on microbial activity is the concentration of oxygen mixed in the carbon dioxide supply. The primary aim of this PhD will be to will carry out fundamental research into the relationship between oxygen concentration, microbial growth and the combined effects of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria and sulphate reducing bacteria in CO2 streams. The objective is to inform the setting of appropriate specification of oxygen concentration limits in CO2 that is to be stored in North Sea storage sites which will minimise the risk of negative microbial impacts without imposing onerous demands on the purification of the CO2 processing.

This project would be suitable for a biological sciences or environmental science graduate with some experience in microbiology. Additional experience in molecular biology or geochemical modelling will be welcome. Training will be provided in running experiments to simulate subsurface CCS environments, and in the geomicrobiological analytical techniques including and molecular methods for characterising microbial communities.

Geochemistry
S259 Variations in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and its impact on South Georgia ice sheet extent over the Holocene

Student: Rowan Dejardin

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: George Swann, University of Nottingham, School of Geography

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 (Anderson et al., 2009), and studies from the Falkland Plateau and the Antarctic Peninsula show that changes to the climate of the Southern Ocean occurred during the comparatively stable 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 (Pritchard et al., 2012).

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 (Fig. 1). The shelf sites 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: (i) 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; and (ii) assess how these changes related to the timing and rate of South Georgia ice sheet decay.

In practical terms the project will:

  • Reconstruct surface and sea floor conditions at centennial to millennial scale from South Georgia marine sediment cores (collected 2013 and housed in Potsdam) from the mouth of Cumberland Bay to the shelf edge, using a combination of the following depending on the material: benthic foraminiferal assemblages, planktonic and benthic foraminiferal stable isotopes, TOC/CN and organic carbon isotopes, diatom assemblages and stable isotopes, palynology.
  • Assess the stability/variability of oceanographic/climatic conditions around South Georgia from the last glacial and through the Holocene, to compare with the rate/amplitude of change observed in recent years.
  • Compare South Georgia climate records with those from South America, Falkland Plateau, West Antarctic Peninsula, and elsewhere to assess regional influences such as the Southern Westerly Wind belt.
  • Assess coarse fraction sediments in the cores – potential ice-rafted debris possibly derived from local South Georgia glaciers – to infer glacier advance/surges/instabilities.

References:

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., 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.

S292 Source apportionment of urban contaminants

Student: Abida Usman

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander and Simon Chenery

University Supervisor: Liz Bailey and Scott Young, Nottingham, School of Life and Environmental Sciences

S265 Speleothem climate capture of the Neanderthal demise

Student: Laura Deeprose

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: Peter Wynn, Lancaster University, Environmental Science

Northern Iberia is ideally located to record long term changes in climate. The marginal location of this region to key ocean circulation regimes heightens its sensitivity to oscillatory climatic behaviour throughout the Quaternary. Terrestrial records of climatic change in Iberia are currently limited to the Holocene and late glacial, with some of the best records produced by speleothems. However, a paucity of records beyond this time frame has thus far prevented any reconstruction of ocean and atmospheric circulation at the time of the Neanderthal demise. Climate variations in Iberia during the transition between the Neanderthal decline and the rising dominance of modern humans are relatively unknown, yet are critical for understanding environmental controls on Neanderthal extinction patterns.

Current research in the Matienzo region of northern Spain has revealed a rich archive of palaeoclimatic information contained within speleothem deposits spanning the last 12,000 years. The Matienzo region is unique in its positioning along the Northern Iberian margin, its diversity of archaeology associated with pre-historic populations, and extensive speleological research which has mapped cave systems known to have developed throughout the Quaternary. This provides the opportunity to extend the palaeoclimate record of the Iberian Peninsula into key periods of hominid population dynamics in the region. In conjunction with the rich archaeological legacy of this region, understanding the climatic context during this time period promises to reveal exciting new insight into climate dynamics and patterns of Neanderthal population change.

S270 The mid-Pleistocene transition in Asian monsoon variability

Student: Sonja Felder

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng.

University Supervisor: Andrew Henderson, Newcastle University, Geography, Politics and Sociology

A fundamental change in Earth’s climate occurred between ~1.3 and 0.6 million years ago (Ma), where the dominant periodicity of climate cycles shifted from 41 thousand to 100 thousand years (ka). Known as the mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT), this enigmatic climate change occurred in the absence of any substantial changes in external orbital forcing, indicating the mechanisms that caused this climate shift were internal to Earth’s climate system. During the MPT, the amplitude of deep-ocean oxygen isotopes increased, which have been interpreted as the main rhythm of ice ages throughout the Pleistocene. Recent research suggests the MPT was initiated by an abrupt increase in Antarctic ice volume ~0.9 Ma, while other evidence points to a quasi-100 ka cycle begining at 1.2 Ma, when sea surface temperatures first decrease, followed by a pronounced cooling at 0.9 Ma. A number of mechanisms have been suggested to explain the shift from 41 ka to 100 ka cycles during the MPT, including high latitude ice sheet dynamics and changes in the global carbon cycle leading to fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Even so, the trigger for the MPT remains elusive, with tropical forcing involving the global carbon reservoir, sea surface temperature (SST) changes in the equatorial Pacific, internal feedbacks of CO2 and ice albedo, as well as strong silicate weathering during glacial lowstands linked to Tibetan Plateau (TP) uplift, all being suggested.

Geological and modelling evidence show the uplift of the TP has pronounced effects on crustal weathering and atmospheric circulation, being invoked as a mechanism for late Cenozoic cooling by CO2 drawdown through silicate weathering. In addition, this uplift also enhanced the seasonal contrast between land and ocean, which drives the Asian monsoon system, as well as biofurcating the westerly jet circulation. Continental records from the Chinese Loess Plateau suggest the MPT evolved in two major steps closely linked to the stepwise uplift of the plateau, and intriguingly, there is evidence for rapid uplift of the TP, especially in the northern part, during the mid-Pleistocene at 1.2, 0.9 – 0.8 and 0.6 Ma. These events set up a positive feedback related to surface conditions on the TP, changes in oceanic and atmospheric circulation linked to the enhancement of the Asian monsoon system, as well as the development of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets. However, there are very few high-resolution records of Asian monsoon variability covering the MPT and this hampers our ability to fully test this continental-weathering hypothesis.

The objective of this project is to produce the first high-resolution record of Asian monsoon variability from the Japan Sea/East Sea over the MPT using the oxygen isotope composition of benthic (ice volume and temperature) and planktonic (Asian monsoon variability) foraminifera, coupled with Mg/Ca ratios to tease out temperature effects on their geochemistry. These proxies will provide the necessary dataset to test the role of TP uplift during the MPT. The project benefits from newly collected material from the recent Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 346 (July-Sept 2013) to the Japan Sea/East Sea and it will focus on Sites U1426 and U1427, which are influenced by the Tsushima Warm Current (TWC) that flows into the basin. In turn, the strength of the TWC is controlled by the discharge of the Yangzte River in China. Annual discharge of the Yangzte River is inextricably linked to the intensity of the Asian monsoon, and therefore changes in the amount of freshwater delivered to the Japan Sea/East Sea will be reflected in the isotopic composition of planktonic foraminifera and hence reflect monsoon variability. In addition, Sites U1426 and U1427 have abundant foraminifera ideal for the proposed geochemical analysis, with working biostratigraphies already established, but, as part of this programme of research, these new geochemical records will be tuned to provide robust age models. The student will have access to all shipboard data, as well as being integrated into an international network of scientists working on these sites.

Key research questions this studentship will address are:

  1. What is the timing and nature of Asian monsoon variability during the MPT?
  2. How does changes in the Asian monsoon relate to Tibetan Plateau uplift?
  3. What is the sychroneity of monsoon variability with records of sea surface temperature and ice volume changes? And what do they tell us about the likely forcing mechanisms of the MPT?
S277 Bioavailability of chromium from African soils near mine waste dumps: implications for staple crops

Student: Elliott Hamilton

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Liz Bailey and Scott Young, University of Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The environmental ubiquity of chromium can be attributed to both natural and anthropogenic sources. The toxicity of chromium is dependent on its chemical forms, with Cr(III) and Cr(VI) being the primary species in the environment (Kotaś and Stasicka 2000). It has been widely reported that Cr(VI) is acutely toxic and carcinogenic (Katz and Salem 1993), therefore increased concentrations of Cr(VI) can potentially pose a risk to living matter within soils. In addition, crops and plants grown in high-Cr(VI) soils can present a risk to human health as well as having deleterious effects on the growth of the plant (Shanker, Cervantes et al. 2005). Although it is known that Cr(VI) is more mobile and bioavailable due to its anionic forms (Fendorf, Wielinga et al. 2000), the mechanistic aspects of its fate in soils are not fully understood. Reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) in soils is possible through both geological and biological pathways, but anthropogenic contributions (fertiliser, liming) may also affect the speciation and bioavailability of Cr.

The aim of this proposal is to assess the mechanisms of chromium species equilibria in soils over a range of properties and conditions, and establish whether these mechanisms increase the likelihood of exposure to Cr(VI). This work will build upon existing analytical methodology with a view to incorporating computational speciation models to assess the processes dominating chromium speciation in soils. Isotope speciation analysis will be utilised to monitor redox reactions and species uptake, combined with pot experiments and fieldwork to evaluate controls on chromium speciation in idealised and real-world situations. There is scope to incorporate liming/fertiliser trials to look at the impact of agriculture on chromium speciation, whilst additional elements of interest, such as antimony, could be included on a site-specific basis. For example, Copperbelt mining in Zambia has been shown to increase total elemental concentrations in both the environment (von der Heyden and New 2004) and occupationally-exposed workers (Ndilila, Callan et al. 2014), although the specific pathways of exposure have yet to be determined; a more thorough understanding of chromium’s soil chemistry could begin the process of addressing this problem.

S269 Environmental lead pollution in the Roman Empire – characterising its effects on juvenile exposure, health and geographic mobility

Student: Joanna Moore

BGS Supervisor: Jane Evans

University Supervisor: Jane Montgomery, University of Bradford, Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences.

This project will investigate the impact of environmental lead pollution on human health and mobility in the Roman Period. It will develop the use of lead isotopes as an indicator of the cultural sphere an individual inhabited using exposure to geographically-determined anthropogenic pollution as a proxy. Lead isotope and concentration analysis will be undertaken on individuals from Roman period cemeteries across the Empire with the aim of:

  1. establishing and comparing the level of lead they were exposed to during childhood;
  2. establishing geographic and cultural variation in Roman Period human lead isotopes;
  3. exploring the link between lead burden and childhood health;
  4. Investigating the possibility of obtaining high-spatial and high-temporal resolution lead isotope data using LA-ICP-MS.

The project will obtain teeth from selected individuals buried in five Roman Period cemeteries at Dorchester, England, Ravenna, Italy, Tarragona, Spain, Budapest, Hungary, and Mainz, Germany. Enamel will be removed from the teeth following established procedures and measured for lead isotope and trace element concentration. Lead isotope preparation and analysis will be carried out in the clean laboratory suite at NIGL. Lead will be measured using PIMMS (MC-ICP-MS) according to established laboratory protocols. A novel aspect of this High spatial-resolution lead isotope analysis of enamel will be obtained by means of a New Wave Research UP193FX LA system connected to a Nu Instruments AttoM HR singlecollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS). The elemental Pb concentrations of the enamel samples and quality control materials will be determined using an Agilent quadrupole ICP-MS instrument. Palaeopathological data will be collated from previously published data and integrated and analysed in relation to the isotope results.

Geology and regional geophysics
S264 Formation and age of the Arran central ring complex

Student: Robert Gooday

BGS Supervisor: Kathryn Goodenough

University Supervisor: Andrew Kerr, Cardiff University, Earth and Ocean Sciences

Our understanding of the processes behind the emplacement of silica-poor (e.g. basalt) and silica-rich (e.g. rhyolite) lavas currently differ significantly. This project will close this gap by deriving a generalized multi-scale model for lava emplacement, based on observations, textural analyses and 3D computer reconstructions of flows at Cordón Caulle, Chile and Mt. Etna, Sicily. Fieldwork will be carried out at both locations to enable characterisation of flow processes over scales of mm- to 100s-m. The results will be combined with laboratory analyses to quantify degassing, and satellite data to provide km-scale process information. State-of-the-art analytical facilities and novel computer modelling approaches will be used whilst working with international experts from the U.S., Italy and the U.K. The results of the project will have wide implications for our understanding of flow emplacement both on Earth and on other planets. For details on our preliminary study, see Tuffen, James et al. (2013), Nature Comms., 4, 2709, doi:10.1038/ncomms3709.

Flow processes in low-viscosity basaltic lavas are broadly understood as eruptions are commonly observed. However, high-viscosity lavas (e.g. rhyolites) are seldom witnessed and poorly understood. The supervisors have recently collected the first observations of an advancing rhyolite lava flow, during the 2011-13 eruption of Cordón Caulle, Chile (preliminary study: Tuffen, James et al, Nature Comms., 2013). With this being the most silica-rich lava flow ever observed, we now have a unique opportunity to develop a generalised model for lava flow emplacement, based on observations and measurements taken of active flows.

A central challenge is to understand how degassing, crystallization and shear localization interact within lavas. Such effects are critically important in high-viscosity flows, leading to highly-heterogeneous flow and gas escape, and affect processes operative over scales of millimetres to kilometres. This project will combine existing and new field data, laboratory analyses and satellite imagery to develop a multi-scale model of high-silica lava emplacement processes firmly linked to existing understanding of lower-viscosity lavas. The resulting universal emplacement model will have broad application, from geologists studying terrestrial flow fields to planetary scientists, who are beginning to discover high-viscosity lavas on Mars in the latest satellite images. Insights gained into degassing and strain localisation during flow will have significant additional implications for our understanding of magma ascent, and ultimately, how volcanoes erupt – whether they produce explosive ash or effusive lava.

Groundwater
S273 Runoff generation, flooding and flowpaths in the changing environment of upland UK

Student: Leo Peskett

BGS Supervisor: Alan MacDonald

University Supervisor: Kate Heal, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

In temperate environments, uplands are often dominated by agricultural land use, as in the UK, which is linked to downstream flood risk. Increasingly natural flood management (NFM) measures applied in the uplands - such as wetland restoration, changes in land use and management, and tree planting - are promoted as more sustainable ways of addressing flood risk compared to constructing more extensive flood defences downstream. NFM measures should also be more resilient to the increased flood risk expected as the result of more frequent extreme rainfall events. However, for NFM to be effective requires an integrated understanding of runoff processes and flowpaths across a catchment. This enables the scale and locations of different types of NFM measures to be selected so as to reduce flood peak flow and volume downstream. The situation is further complicated by the heterogeneous nature of upland catchments, which typically contain a mixture of topography, land uses and soil types within a small area. Most research on upland hydrological processes has focused on plot- and small-scale investigations and not on the catchment scale which is most relevant for implementing NFM. The interaction between surface and subsurface flow and water stores has also been largely overlooked in upland catchments, even though it has been shown to have an important effect on catchment hydrology. These research gaps will be addressed in this project which aims to relate detailed understanding of hydrological processes to river flows at the catchment scale.

S260 Understanding groundwater controls on microbial metabolic activity, biogeochemical cycling and associated greenhouse gas production in streambed sediments

Student: Sophie Comer

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Stefan Krause, University of Birmingham, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

This interdisciplinary project will pioneer the combination of novel distributed sensor networks and smart tracer technologies for quantification of microbial metabolic activity with state-of-the-art isotope tracer techniques and novel passive pore-water chemical sampling and gas analysis. The innovative combination of these cutting-edge technologies will allow investigating the role of streambed sediments for integrated C, N and O cycling in dependency of spatio-temporal variability in groundwater – surface water mixing and resulting patterns and dynamics of thermal and redox-chemical conditions. In addition to analysing spatial patterns of biogeochemical hotspots and C, N, O turnover rates and identifying their reliance on groundwater up-welling, residence time distributions and hyporheic mixing patterns, the project will aim to quantify bulk streambed respiration rates in order to assess their role for carbon sequestration and the production of climate active gases CO2, CH4 and N2O.

Informatics
S291 Semantic Information Retrieval for Geological Resources

Student: Ikechukwu Nkisi-Orji

BGS Supervisor: Rachel Heaven

University Supervisor: Nirmalie Wiratunga, Robert Gordan School of Computing Science.

Minerals and waste
S295 An enhanced understanding of the thermal and fluid history of a Variscan metallogenic province from critical metal investigations: The antimony and tungsten-bismuth deposits of south-west England.

Student: Eimear Deady

BGS Supervisor: Dr Kathryn Goodenough and Mr Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: Dr Kathryn Moore and Dr Frances Wall, Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

The aims of this project are to improve the model for tungsten mineralisation in the south-west and to develop a model for bismuth mineralisation which has not been established as yet in this region. An additional deliverable is to establish a robust directory of tungsten mineral occurrences in the south-west using legacy collections and the associated metadata.

Ideally the project would aim to characterise the bismuth minerals associated with the tungsten mineralisation and to establish whether this accessory could be processed as a value-adding by product to tungsten processing. To establish the paragenetic sequence of the mineralisation, using a variety of localities across the region. Describe previously un-described bismuth mineralisation in samples from spoil heaps.

S276 Timing of Cu-Au-Te-PGE porphyry-style mineralisation in northern Greece and Bulgaria and its relationship to metamorphic core complex exhumation

Student: Rebecca Perkins

BGS Supervisor: Jon Naden

University Supervisor: Frances Cooper, University of Bristol, Earth Sciences

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. 1-2), 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.

S267 Earth observation for advanced geoscience modelling – the Tellus South West airborne high resolution geophysical, multispectral and LiDAR survey

Student: Chris Yeomans

BGS Supervisor: Paul Lusty

University Supervisor: Robin Shail, University of Exeter Camborne School of Mines, Mining Geology

This project offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of a new geoscience framework for South West England. The region (most of Cornwall, Devon and part of Somerset) is now one of the best surveyed parts of the planet, because of recent NERC investment in a high resolution airborne geophysical and LiDAR survey and land-based geochemical sampling www.tellusgb.ac.uk. The Tellus Survey of Northern Ireland exemplifies what can be achieved with comparable data, including improved geological and structural mapping, enhanced regional geological interpretation (e.g. Young and Earls, 2007; Chew et al. 2010) and more sophisticated mineral exploration targeting (e.g. Lusty et al. 2012), particularly in areas of concealed geology.

These new data are of particular significance as the South West England orefield is widely recognised as the most important metallogenic province in the UK (Scrivener, 2006; Moon, 2010), with significant current exploration interest (e.g. Wolf Minerals, Hemerdon project and exploration by Treliver Minerals) and the potential for development of a future mining industry. Despite extensive geological research and a protracted history of mineral extraction, fundamental questions remain concerning the exact nature, source and timing of the mineralisation and its relation to structure, magmatism and regional tectonics. Key to addressing these questions is the development of an enhanced geoscience framework, based upon the new high resolution datasets, coupled with extensive legacy data (e.g. geological mapping, borehole data, mineral occurrences databases etc). The new data provide an exceptional opportunity to enhance our fundamental understanding of the geological and structural evolution of South West England, with direct implications for metallic mineral exploration and future resource potential.

The main aim of the project is to integrate all available data for the South West (new imagery and geochemistry, previous bedrock and superficial mapping, geophysics etc) to generate enhanced baseline geological and structural information and understanding for the region. The project will develop and employ novel approaches for spatial analysis, interrogation, filtering, modelling, visualisation and fusion of multi-resolution and multi-source geological data (e.g. correlation analysis, non-metric multidimensional scaling, principal component analysis, fractal clustering, regression analysis, transformation techniques, geophysical inversion etc) to emphasise patterns and association. Of particular interest is the application of the new LiDAR data for enhanced and automated lithological and structural mapping (e.g. Grebby et al. 2010; Grebby et al. 2012). South West England provides an opportunity to test this approach in a well vegetated terrane with less pronounced topographic variation. The datasets derived from this analysis and interpretation will be used to develop augmented geological and structural maps for the region. The distribution of mineralisation in the South West can subsequently be reinterpreted in this context. The new geological map and structural interpretation coupled with other derived datasets will ultimately form a basis for a regional scale prospectivity model and quantitative resource assessment, based upon a range of techniques e.g. discriminant analysis, weights-of-evidence, artificial neural networks (e.g. Harris et al. 2003). Datasets produced by this study e.g. lineament and fracture maps will have wide ranging applications e.g. geothermal energy, hydrogeology and environmental modelling, which could inform future decision making in the South West and the attribution of 3D models of the region at a variety of scales.

References:

Chew, D.M, McFarlane, J.A.S., Cooper, M.R. and Fleming, C.M. (2010) New geological insights into the Dalradian Lack Inlier, Northern Ireland and correlative sequences: implications for lithostratigraphical correlation and gold mineralisation. In Abstracts of the 53rd Annual Irish Geological Research Meeting, 16.

Grebby S, Cunningham D, Naden J, Tansey K. (2010). Lithological mapping of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus, using airborne LiDAR topographic data. Remotes Sensing of Environment, 114, 713–724.

Grebby, S., Cunningham, D., Naden, J., & Tansey, K. (2012). Application of airborne LiDAR data and airborne multispectral imagery to structural mapping of the upper section of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 101, 1645-1660.

Harris DV, Zurcher J, Stanley M, Marlow J, Pan G. (2003). A comparative analysis of favorability mappings by weights of evidence, probabilistic neural networks, discriminant analysis, and logistic regression. Natural Resource Research 12, 241–255.

Lusty P A J, Scheib C, Gunn A G, Walker A S D. (2012). Reconnaissance-Scale Prospectivity Analysis for Gold Mineralisation in the Southern Uplands-Down-Longford Terrane, Northern Ireland. Natural Resources Research, 21, 359–382.

Moon C J. (2010). Geochemical exploration in Cornwall and Devon: a review. Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis, 10, 331–351.

Scrivener R C. (2006). Cornubian granites and mineralization of SW England. In: Brenchley P.J. and Rawson P.F. (eds), The Geology of England and Wales, 2nd Edition. The Geological Society of London.

Young M E, Earls G J T. (2007). New geochemical and geophyisical data of Northern Ireland. In: Andrew C J (ed). Digging Deeper, Proceedings of the ninth Biennial SGA Meeting, Dublin, Ireland, Millpress.

NIGL
S297 Geochemical dynamics and bioavailability of Iodine and Selenium in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Student: Saeed Ahmad

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: S Young, Nottingham

Pre-2014 student cohorts

Climate and landscape change
S222 Palaeohydrology of a rapid climate change event at the Palaeocene-Eocene

Student: Alex Dawson

BGS Supervisor: Mike Ellis

University Supervisor: Stephen Grimes, University of Plymouth, Geography

This project tackles the possible existence of precursory signals in hydrological behaviour to the Earth's most significant and essentially catastrophic climate change event at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The study will take advantage of multiple sections of a terrestrial to shallow marine PETM facies exposed across the southern and western Pyrenees. We will use Sr and D isotope ratios, and sedimentological analyses to constrain the hydrological behaviour of the fluvial system. The PhD project will be integrated with existing PETM investigations at the BGS, Plymouth University (home to the PhD studentship), and Liverpool University.

S239 The Rock Record of the British Cretaceous

Student: Fiona Walker

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Newell

University Supervisor: Michael Benton, Bristol

A key underpinning of earth science is the assumption that the rock and fossil records provide reasonable information on the history of the Earth and of life. This project proposes to test this assumption using a twofold approach on the British Cretaceous, (1) to explore how knowledge about geology and palaeontology have accumulated through 200 years of research time; and (2) to explore linkages or redundancy between rock and fossil signals as a major contribution to current debates about quality of the fossil record. The research will be underpinned by BGS databases, digital map products and emerging 3D models and will generate high impact publications in a very active research field. A strong emphasis on 3D techniques and property modelling of rock volumes will not only produce totally new science but will feed directly into the BGS DREAM and FutureThames projects. The work has broader implications for evaluating geological uncertainty and in providing a measure of how well we understand the geology of a large part of southeast England: a densely populated region strongly dependant on water resources from Cretaceous aquifers.

S246 The Mid Jurassic Plankton Explosion

Student: Nick Wiggan

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

The Mid Jurassic is a critical interval in terms of evolution and hydrocarbon reserves. Plankton evolution at this time is poorly understood. The dinoflagellates are major primary producers and underwent an evolutionary explosion during the Mid Bajocian (~169 Ma). This event is poorly known, and is coincident with other phenomena such as the rise of the planktonic foraminifera. The project will document the dinoflagellate radiation from key successions, investigate synchronous geochemical changes, assess coeval biotic change and provide a holistic explanation of Mesozoic plankton evolution. This research is closely aligned to the BGS Strategy, e.g. Climate Change, Energy and Geology/Landscape.

S247 Equatorial sea surface temperature seasonality in the Mississippian (Carboniferous) derived from brachiopod shell carbonate

Student: Leah Nolan

BGS Supervisor: Mike Stephenson

University Supervisor: Melanie Leng, Leicester, Geology

The monsoon rainfall seasonality of the palaeoequatorial Mississippian (L Carboniferous) has been deduced from fossil plant morphology. However little is known about palaeoequatorial Mississippian sea surface temperature (SST) seasonality. In particular no numerical values are available for SST seasonality to feed into General Circulation Models (GCMs) of the Mississippian greenhouse to icehouse transition, a period of global climatic significance.

The main goal is to derive temperatures for palaeoequatorial Mississippian seawater seasonality through sclerocronology and isotope profiling of fossil shells. Little is known presently of SSTs in the Carboniferous and this type of interannual information is vital so that tie points can be placed within GCMs for wider estimates of SST seasonality. Preliminary data from one shell indicates SST seasonality of ~ 5-6 °C (over a 20 year period). This is 1-2°C greater than the seasonal temperature variation at the present day equator in both the Pacific and Atlantic.

A secondary goal is to investigate the possibility of a 'vestigial signal' in altered brachiopod shell preserving the pattern of a primary signal if not primary values. If it is found that even after diagenesis primary variation is preserved, this has far-reaching effects for isotope proxy studies, since much material is diagenetically altered and therefore presently deemed unsuitable for palaeoclimate research.

In a pilot study a large brachiopod shell (Gigantoproductus) was sampled consecutively across annual growth bands (Angiolini et al., in press). δ18O and δ13C (interpreted as temperature and productivity) was found to correlate with growth as an annual rhythm (winter-summer). The same periodicity is also preserved superimposed on diagenetic values of δ18O and δ13C as a ‘vestigial signal' within an altered part of the shell. The project aims to sample further shells to:

  • test correlation between growth lines and geochemical periodicity
  • derive values for SST seasonality (winter minima and summer maxima)
  • and investigate further the phenomenon of the 'vestigial signal'.
S253 Palaeobiology of phosphatized Ediacaran microfossils from Norway

Student: Peter Adamson

BGS Supervisor: Phil Wilby

University Supervisor: Nicholas Butterfield, Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S255 Colloidal copper and lead sulphide dynamics in an alluvial floodplain soil and their impact on trace metal mobility

Student: Suzanne Schwarz

BGS Supervisor: Andy Tye

University Supervisor: Wolfgang Wilcke, University of Berne, Switzerland

S275 The early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) mass extinction event and recovery in the eastern Tethys: integrating palaeontological and geochemical data from Bulgaria

Student: Autumn Pugh

BGS Supervisor: Jim Riding

University Supervisor: Chris Little, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment

The early Toarcian mass extinction in the Early Jurassic was the most severe crisis of the Jurassic-Cretaceous interval, with ~20% generic extinction rates. The event is best known from the marine realm with ammonites, bivalves and foraminifera being amongst the groups to suffering significant losses. In the northern Europe the extinction coincides with the development of black shales that are thought to be the local development of an oceanic anoxic event. This in turn has been linked to the contemporaneous eruption of the vast Karoo-Ferrar flood basalt province in the southern hemisphere that is thought to have triggered a dramatic global warming event. This extinction-anoxia-volcanism-warming scenario has been postulated for several other environmental crises and by studying the effects of these events in the geological record we will be better able to forecast how marine ecosystems will respond to the increasing duration and geographic extent of oxygen minimum 'dead zones' in modern oceans. These are a major environmental concern for the future, as they have the potential to severely affect marine diversity and productivity.

The anoxia-extinction link for the early Toarcian extinction event is well established in northern European areas (e.g. the Cleveland Basin of northern England and the Swabian Basin in Germany), comprising the shallow water epicontinental seas of the Boreal Realm. In contrast, the early Toarcian event is less well established in the western Tethys marine sections of southern and eastern Europe, because while there are numerous geochemical (e.g. using Sr, O and C isotopes) and some microfossil studies of Tethyan Early Jurassic geological sections, there is poor knowledge of benthic macrofaunas in these areas. This precludes detailed comparison with the integrated macrofossil-microfossil-isotope geochemical record from the Boreal Realm epicontinental seas and thus constrains our ability to define the geographic and temporal scope of the early Toarcian extinction event.

While the extinction in early Toarcian has been relatively well studied, very little is known about patterns and rates of biotic recovery from this event, in part because of the nature of rock exposure in some of the well studied sections (e.g. the Cleveland Basin). Some older work based on generic ranges using relatively coarse time scales suggests that pre-extinction diversity levels were not reached again until the Aalenian, possibly 4 million years later after the event. This lack of knowledge prevents us currently using the Toarcian event as a predictive tool for the long term effects of widespread oxygen minimum ‘dead zones’ in modern oceans.

Aims and objectives: The project will examine the Jurassic to Aalenian fossil record of the eastern Tethyan area, by documenting extinction losses and associated environmental changes within a high-resolution time framework. This will be achieved by linking existing local and regional geochemical datasets (e.g. strontium, carbon and oxygen isotopes) with new fossil range data (principally brachiopods, molluscs and foraminifera) from the Bulgarian Balkan Mountains. The significance of the Bulgarian geological sections is that palaeogeographic reconstructions of Europe for the Early Jurassic shows that at this time sediments in the Balkan Mountains were deposited on the margin of the western Tethys Ocean in relatively deep (but above the contemporary Carbonate Compensation Depth) marginal basins in proximity to active spreading and island arc volcanism. By studying the Bulgarian sections we will be able to trace biotic and geochemical events during the early Toarcian event and subsequent biotic recovery from the shallow water epicontinental seas of the Boreal area to the deep water margin of the western Tethys, and thus to better constrain the geographic and temporal scope of the event.

To achieve the project aims the student will undertake several field seasons to the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria, north of the capital city of Sofia, together with their UK based and Bulgarian supervisors, where they will examine a number of well-exposed Early to Middle Jurassic geological sections. Here they will construct measured sections and sample in detail the macrofossil content (principally ammonites, belemnites, bivalves, brachiopods), and collect sediment samples for subsequent palaeoecological and microfossil analysis (calcareous foraminifera and palynomorphs). The student will then identify the macrofossils using reference material in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences collections (including previously collected ammonites, belemnites and brachiopods), and construct range charts for species. Microfossil analysis will be performed at Leeds. After this work the student will integrate the fossil data with existing geochemical data (major and trace elements and Sr, C and O isotopes) for the same sections. Later, this integrated data will be compared to equivalent data from other Toarcian Tethyan and Boreal sections to establish regional versus global trends, and to estimate patterns and rates of recovery.

Earth hazards and observatories
S209 Understanding the evolution of the Syrtis Major volcanic complex (Mars) and comparison with volcanoes in the Afar Rift system (Earth)

Student: Peter Fawdon

BGS Supervisor: Charlotte Vye-Brown

University Supervisor: Matt Balme, Open University, Earth and Environmental Sciences

This project aims to understand the nature and volcano-tectonic evolution of the Syrtis Major volcanic complex on Mars. Syrtis Major contains a large (~ 1300 km across) shield complex that probably formed ~ 3.7 to 3 billion years ago. It contains the summit calderas Nili Patera and Meroe Patera, which are aligned along a fracture system running circumferentially to a large impact basin (Isidis) at the eastern boundary of the complex. The lack of buttressing on the eastern side appears to have allowed some lateral extension, making the complex the closest martian analogue to extensional volcanic edifices such as those in the Afar Rift on Earth.

S224 Glacier-to-foreland hydrological coupling at a maritime glacier

Student: Verity Flett

BGS Supervisor: Jez Everest

University Supervisor: Martin Kirkbride, University of Dundee, Urban Water Technology

The research will analyse the mass balance response, both glaciological and hydrological, of a coupled glacier-foreland system, and will create the capability to model and predict natural variability under changing climatic regimes. The student will be based at the School of the Environment in Dundee, and will also be expected to spend some time at BGS in Edinburgh. Fieldwork will be based at the BGS Virkisjökull Observatory in southeast Iceland, a multi-technique monitoring facility established in 2009. The PhD seeks to build on and add scientific value to many of the continuously-acquired datasets at the site, examples illustrated in the figures overleaf.

S226 Using earthquake seismology to track transient convective circulation beneath the British Isles

Student: Charlotte Schoonman

BGS Supervisor: Richard Luckett

University Supervisor: Nicky White, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

S282 Petrological constraints on the structure of Icelandic volcanic systems

Student: Will Miller

BGS Supervisor: Evgenia Ilyinskaya

University Supervisor: John Maclennan, University of Cambridge, Earth Sciences

The research will analyse the mass balance response, both glaciological and hydrological, of a coupled glacier-foreland system, and will create the capability to model and predict natural variability under changing climatic regimes. The student will be based at the School of the Environment in Dundee, and will also be expected to spend some time at BGS in Edinburgh. Fieldwork will be based at the BGS Virkisjökull Observatory in southeast Iceland, a multi-technique monitoring facility established in 2009. The PhD seeks to build on and add scientific value to many of the continuously-acquired datasets at the site, examples illustrated in the figures overleaf.

Energy and marine geoscience
214.2 Micro-structural analysis of time-variant evolution in pore geometry of cement materials during carbonation

Student: Konstantinos Giannoukos

BGS Supervisor: Chris Rochelle

University Supervisor: A Hall, University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences

To quantify and determine the origins of time-variant evolution of pore geometry and associated multiphase (CO2-rich) transport phenomena in cement-based grouts, how mineralogical composition controls the rate and depth of carbonation. The research objectives are to: Identify and produce a selection of suitable candidate cementitious grouts for use in composite steel-lined and cement-sealed boreholes, and natural analogues of aged cement minerals, Characterise multi-scale pore geometry, bulk and selected area morphology, chemical composition and mineralogy and correlate with functional properties. Perform staggered aging of representative samples of the candidate materials by accelerated carbonation under realistic conditions Quantify the time-variant effects of aging on the evolution of pore network geometry and the corresponding alteration of the hydrothermal functional properties.

S228 The 3D architecture and structure of a tectonised glacigenic sedimentaty sequence in the DoggerBank area Bank area of the southern North Sea

Student: Astrid Ruiter

BGS Supervisor: Emrys Phillips

University Supervisor: Simon Carr, University of London Queen Mary College, Geography

S229 Glaciation of the North Sea Basin: integrating evidence from basin-scale 3D seismic geomorphology, site surveys, boreholes and adjacent land areas

Student: Rachel Lamb

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Mads Huuse, University of Manchester, School of Earth Sciences and Geography

The aim of this project is to use the now extensive high quality 3D seismic data which is available due to hydrocarbon exploration to look at the North Sea on a much larger scale (e.g. Stewart & Lonergan 2011). This will provide the very first basin-wide seismic geomorphological record of North Sea glaciations through the Quaternary.

S232 Seismological insights into the building of the Lesser Antilles Arc

Student: David Schlaphorst

BGS Supervisor: Brian Baptie

University Supervisor: Michael Kendall, University of Bristol, Earth Sciences

S237 Public perception of shale gas extraction technology

Student: William Knight

BGS Supervisor: Mike Stephenson

University Supervisor: Sarah O'Hara, University of Nottingham, School of Geography

S243 Seasonally resolved climate variability since the last Glacial Maximum from the laminated sediments of Windermere

Student: Rachel Avery

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Alan Kemp, Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

The project builds on previous collaborative site survey and pilot coring in Windermere between BGS and NOCS, and aims to exploit longer cores recovered during 2012. Pilot studies strongly indicate a seasonally resolved record in a continuously laminated deglacial sequence. This has the potential to generate records of interannual to decadal scale variability and document episodes of rapid climate change through the last deglaciation. These will be the first records of such resolution from Britain and Ireland, and will constitute a hitherto missing link between records from the Greenland Ice Cores (NGRIP) and lake records from continental Europe.

S249 Evaluating 3D sedimentary architecture as a fundamental control on geotechnical and physical properties (Dogger Bank Round 3 Windfarm Zone)

Student: Kieran Blacker

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Sarah Davies, Leicester, Geology

S250 High resolution environmental change from Holocene sediments of Windermere

Student: James Fielding

BGS Supervisor: Carol Cotterill

University Supervisor: Alan Kemp, Southampton, National Oceanography Centre

S254 Seismic Imaging and Fluid Dynamic Modelling of Sequestered Carbon Dioxide in the North Sea, UK

Student: Laurence Cowton

BGS Supervisor: Andy Chadwick

University Supervisor: Jerome Neufeld, University of Cambridge, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP)

Other information
In 2013 Laurence won First Prize in The Neftex Earth Model Award.

Storage of carbon dioxide in deeply buried geological formations offers one of the most immediate and potentially effective methods for the reduction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions at acceptable cost. Naturally-occurring geological reservoirs in which CO2 has remained trapped for millions of years shows that long-term storage is technically feasible. In order for long-term storage to become a reality, we must establish storage site effectiveness, safety and accountability. These aims are best achieved by developing remote sensing methods for monitoring and understanding the behaviour of CO2 in a variety of reservoir settings. These methods must be able to quantify the storage capabilities and the long-term performance of such reservoirs.

Controlled-source seismic reflection surveying constitutes the principal means for imaging sub-surface geological formations down to depths of 10 km or so. In recent years, there have been considerable strides in refining our ability to image the three-dimensional structure of the solid Earth, particularly in the marine realm. Perhaps the most significant recent advance has been the development of time-lapse seismic imaging which enables sub-surface fluids such as gas, oil and brine to be tracked and measured. There is considerable interest in applying this technology to other important geological problems. An obvious application concerns the sequestration and monitoring of CO2.

Engineering geology
S223 Development and application of geophysical proxies for imaging geotechnical property changes during development of near surface shear zones

Student: Rosalind Hen-Jones

BGS Supervisor: Dave Gunn

University Supervisor: John Hughes, University of Newcastle, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

New methods integrated geophysical-geotechnical sensor systems can be developed to monitor ground moisture changes, associated geotechnical property changes (e.g. pore suction) and movement to capture the shear failure process with sufficient resolution (spatial/temporal) such that ‘cause and effect’ can be established. This project will monitor a slope failure at the BIONICS site using integrated geotechnical-geophysical sensor technologies. The project will develop methodologies for analysing the spatial and temporal coherence of time series geotechnical data from distributed sensor networks and time-lapse volumetric images gathered using high resolution electrical tomography. Ultimately, the project aims to identify development of low strength zones from the spatial and temporal material property change sequences associated with a shear failure event for a positive test of the hypothesis.

S241 Development of a UAV-based landslide monitoring system

Student: Maria Peppa

BGS Supervisor: Jonathan Chambers

University Supervisor: Pauline Miller, Newcastle, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

This research will develop an optimised approach to landslide monitoring and assessment through combining detailed UAV generated surface measurements with geotechnical and geophysical observations of sub-surface processes. This integrated approach will advance understanding of landslide mechanisms and causative behaviours. The research will be rigorously tested at the BGS Hollin Hill landslide observatory (North Yorkshire) [1, 2], and will be founded on an automatic UAV georeferencing approach, which will improve positional accuracy and overcome the need for establishing ground control in a challenging environment.

S256 Development and application of machine learning techniques for characterisation and quantification of change in time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography monitoring

Student: William Ward

BGS Supervisor: Paul Wilkinson

University Supervisor: Li Bai, University of Nottingham, School of Computer Science

Electrical resistivity monitoring (4D ERT) is increasingly used to investigate complex hydrogeophysical processes. Although the data collection and imaging is automated, the detection and interpretation of changes in the resulting images caused by subsurface processes is still a manual, labour intensive activity. The aim of the PhD is to apply machine learning techniques (image processing, computer vision, and time-series processing) to 4D ERT images to develop methods to identify and assess significant changes, with the goal of producing reliable automated warning algorithms that can trigger user intervention and further interpretation when necessary. The methods developed in this research will be rigorously tested in controlled laboratory imaging experiments [1], and analysis of existing and future monitoring data from well characterised field installations [2, 3, 4].

Environmental modelling
S245 Uncertainty in expert interpretation of geological cross-sections and its propagation into 3D geological framework models

Student: Charles Randle

BGS Supervisor: Murray Lark

University Supervisor: Clare Bond , Aberdeen, Geosciences, Geography and Environment

The unique value of 3-D geological models derives from the expert interpretation which they embody. However, geological interpretation is also a source of uncertainty in the model. This uncertainty must be quantified, which is challenging because it does not arise from a simple algorithm or statistical model. This project will quantify and compare the uncertainty introduced by expert interpretation in GSI3D and GOCAD modelling workflows. This will be done by controlled modelling experiments and formal expert elicitation to quantify error distributions, along with numerical analysis of key algorithms to assess how errors propagate, and are modified by interpretative editing. By doing this work in contrasting terranes and with different data densities, benchmark information on model quality will be provided for contrasting conditions.

Geochemistry
S204.2 Geogenic arsenic attributable health risks in UK and the European Union

Student: Daniel Middleton

BGS Supervisor: Michael Watts

University Supervisor: Manchester, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science

S244 U-Series constraints on the evolution of the Green River (Utah) natural analogue for geological carbon storage

Student: Peter Scott

BGS Supervisor: Dan Condon

University Supervisor: Mike Bickle, Cambridge, Earth Sciences

This PhD project is focussed on using U-Series dating, combined with other geochemistry (e.g. Sr/Ca, δ13C, 87Sr/86Sr) and numerical modelling to understand the tempo of CO2 degassing in a natural CO2 leaking system, a natural analogue for potential future storage systems. The student research experience will build upon existing synergy between groups at Cambridge and the BGS and will generate data that are pertinent to our understanding of CO2 storage on time scales of 1 to >100 kyr, detailing rates and nature of fundamental processes/reactions, and the response of CO2 reservoirs to external forcing (i.e., environmental change).

S248 Evaluating trade-offs between health benefits and risks associated with grow your own in (peri-)urban areas

Student: Jonathon Stubberfield

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander

University Supervisor: Neil Crout, Nottingham

S251 Propagation of deformation across the India-Asia collision zone, and its effect on climate change; constraints from the sediment record in the Tarim Basin, China

Student: Tamsin Blayney

BGS Supervisor: Ian Millar

University Supervisor: Yani Najman, Lancaster, Environmental Science

S252 Using geospatial approaches to determine the phosphorus dynamics in soil-crop systems in Malaysia

Student: Diriba Kumssa

BGS Supervisor: Louise Ander

University Supervisor: Martin Broadley, Nottingham, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Geology and regional geophysics
S184 Postglacial fjordic landscape evolution: the onshore and offshore limits of the Younger Dryas ice sheet, western Scotland

Student: Kate McIntyre

BGS Supervisor: Tom Bradwell

University Supervisor: John Howe, University of Scottish Association for Marine Science

Groundwater
S235 Tracing pollution and sea water intrusion in groundwater systems of the Pearl River Basin, China

Student: Lee Chambers

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Greg Holland, University of Lancaster, Environmental Science

To couple the development of PO4-δ18O as a novel isotopic label for P biogeochemical research with in-depth speciation studies to characterise the importance of organic- and colloidal-P within catchments. TO: Building on method development work with BGS and LEC, to optimise extraction and pyrolysis protocols for analysis of PO4-δ18O in surface water and Groundwater matrices. To characterise PO4-δ18O in significant sources of P within the DTC study catchments (e.g. inorganic and organic fertiliser, waste water effluents, phosphate-rich aquifer materials, septic tank discharges). To track changes in PO4-δ18O and water- δ18O within groundwater and surface water in the study catchments to understand the extent of metabolism of P from different sources. To use commercially-available enzymes and HPLC and sequential filtration techniques to characterise the magnitude and bioavailability of organic-P fractions of the total P pool in groundwater and surface water.

S236 Assessing the Efficacy of Mitigation Options for Diffuse Water Pollution from Agriculture

Student: Matilda Biddulph

BGS Supervisor: Sean Burke

University Supervisor: Northampton, School of Science and Technology

S240 Stable isotope biogeochemistry of methane in UK groundwater prior to shale gas development

Student: Millie Basava-reddi

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisor: Edward Hornibrook, Bristol, Earth Sciences

The proposed study will contribute valuable new data to the BGS baseline survey of groundwater CH4 in regions of the UK where shale gas exploration and exploitation are likely to occur in the future. The collaboration with Bristol University will focus on stable isotope characterization of groundwater CH4 to establish its origin and to evaluate factors influencing the stability of CH4 concentration and δ13C and δ2H values in groundwater prior to shale gas development.

Minerals and waste
S200 From Castle to Quarry – The Characterisation of Historic Mortars with a Focus on Provenance

Student: Dorn Carran

BGS Supervisor: A Leslie

University Supervisor: John Hughes, Paisley

An interdisciplinary project between the University of the West of Scotland, Historic Scotland and the British Geological Survey has been initiated to study in detail historic lime mortars. In particular the project aims to establish whether it is possible to use the binders of these mortars to determine the provenance of the limestone used to make them, and to further the understanding of such mortars and the processes involved in their study.

Contacts for further information

Jon Naden
BGS University Funding Initiative
British Geological Survey
Keyworth
Nottingham
NG12 5GG
E-mail: BUFI
Telephone: 0115 936 3100
Fax: 0115 936 3200
Twitter: @DocBGS