Stable isotope facility research in the media

2017

November 2017: Stable Isotope Geochemistry Training course at BGS... by Charly Briddon

Hi, my name is Charly and I am a second year PhD student at the University of Nottingham in the School of Geography and part of the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry at the BGS. Let me start by introducing what I do. I am investigating the impact of aquaculture (in this case, the high intensive farming of fish in cages) in freshwater lakes on the island of Luzon, in the Philippines. I will be using the physical, chemical, and biological information (i.e. proxy data or indicators) preserved in sediment profiles to help me reconstruct how past environmental conditions have changed within these lakes. Stable isotope analysis is an important part of my research as I will be using carbon and nitrogen isotopes to determine changing levels of productivity and sources of organic matter (terrestrial vs. algal) within these lakes. This will help to disentangle the impacts of aquaculture from other catchment effects such as climate...

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November 2017: ISOcycles – conference Monte Verita, Switzerland... by Andi Smith and Angela Lamb

In October 2017 a small group of researchers descended on the Monte Verita conference centre in Ascona, Switzerland. This fantastic conference centre is the venue of choice for Congressi Stefano Franscini, the international conference platform of ETH Zurich. The conference was aimed at bringing together experts from a range of scientific disciplines to discuss the topic of “Reaching an integrated use of stable isotopes to constrain biogeochemical nutrient cycles.” Andi Smith and Angela Lamb attended from the NERC Stable Isotope Facility at the BGS and here Andi discusses the conference in more detail...

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October 2017: Survival at sea as part of ORCHESTRA: Part 3... by Chris Kendrick

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a major partner in a scientific programme called ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and carbon Sequestration and Transport) which has been running for over a year. The project aims to improve our ability to understand and predict the role of the Southern Ocean currents to modulate global climate. The BGS’s contribution to this research is to analyse the oxygen and carbon isotope composition of waters from the World’s oceans over a 5 year period. The carbon data will be used to investigate where carbon is ether absorbed by the ocean or expelled into the atmosphere. This is particularly important as the oceans regulate atmospheric CO2. The oxygen will help us to track currents and understand where freshwater enters the oceans. Find out more about ORCHESTRA and survival training from Chris...

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September 2017: My work experience week at the British Geological Survey... by Laura Wainman

Hi, my name is Laura Wainman and I am a sixth form student from Rushcliffe School. I have just completed my work experience week in the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey. BGS is a world renowned geoscience centre with its headquarters here in Keyworth, Nottingham. A great variety of research is conducted at BGS, from monitoring and forecasting volcanic eruptions and earthquakes to studying local and global environments. Along with another student James, I have spent my week learning how, from measuring the isotopes of oxygen and carbon, the climate and environmental conditions from thousands of years ago can be deduced. Read more about Laura’s time at the BGS here.

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September 2017: Work Experience at the BGS Stable Isotope Facility... by James Setchfield

Hi, I’m James and for the past week I have been gaining experience working in the stable isotope facility at The British Geological Survey in Keyworth. I have a burning passion for Geography and the processes that help to shape and change the physical world around us. I am currently in sixth form doing my A-levels but have every intention of pursuing this subject to a degree and career level. The work experience scheme I was placed on helped me to gain an understanding of the career pathways Geography leads to. My week at BGS has allowed me to use and understand scientific equipment that I have only ever seen in diagrammatic form. See more from James here.

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August 2017: Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry User Group (SIMSUG) Meeting... by Jack Lacey

In July, the 14th Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry User Group (SIMSUG) meeting was hosted by the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey. SIMSUG brings together scientific users, engineers, manufacturers, and suppliers of mass spectrometry equipment to discuss new applications and developments in stable isotope research and analytical instrumentation. Although the meeting has been held annually in the past, the last SIMSUG was hosted six years ago in 2011 by Lancaster University Centre for Ecology and Hydrology — so about time for a catch up!

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August 2017: Kick starting the new Red River Delta project in Vietnam... by Dr Ginnie Panizzo

In early July, 4 members of the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (Suzanne McGowan, Ginnie Panizzo, Chris Vane, Melanie Leng) travelled to Hanoi, Vietnam to meet their Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) collaborators on a new 3 year project. The project entitled “Assessing human impacts on the Red River system, Vietnam, to enable sustainable management” was awarded to Suzanne McGowan (UK) and Do Thu Nga (VN) under the Newton Fund RCUK-NAFOSTED Research Partnership Call and includes a 10 strong research team. Here Ginnie tells us about the trip…

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July 2017: Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project... by Jonathan Dean

The latest meeting of the Chew Bahir portion of the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project took place in Potsdam in June. Chew Bahir is a lake in southern Ethiopia that was 'drilled' in 2014 to retrieve cores of lake sediment. These extend from the lake bed down to 290 metres into the sediments. This sediment accumulated over the past 500,000 years ago. I presented the isotope data that we produced at the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey. By looking at the ratio of one type of oxygen to another, and how this varies from the present day lake bed through the sediment cores at intervals down to 290 metres, we are able to reconstruct how the climate changed between wet and dry over the past half a million years. Read more from Jon below.

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July 2017: DeepCHALLA subsampling party at the Universiteit Gent... by Heather Moorhouse

DeepCHALLA is an International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme project investigating ~250,000 years of climate change and ecosystem dynamics in Equatorial East Africa, using lake sediment cores from Challa, a 92m crater lake on the flanks of Mount Kilamanjaro in Kenya/Tanzania. Dr Heather Moorhouse from Lancaster University details her trip to Gent, Belgium where subsampling of the cores was undertaken in order to gather the material ready for analyses of isotopes from bulk organic material and diatoms (algae with silica cell walls), jointly undertaken at Lancaster University and the Stable Isotope Facility, British Geological Survey.

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June 2017: The start of a major new research project (ORCHESTRA): Part 2... by Carol Arrowsmith

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a major partner in a scientific programme called ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and carbon Sequestration and Transport) which has been running for over a year. The project aims to improve our ability to understand and predict the role of the Southern Ocean currents to modulate global climate. The BGS’s contribution to this research is to analyse the oxygen and carbon isotope composition of the ocean waters from the World’s oceans over a 5 year period. In particular the carbon data will be used to investigate where carbon is ether absorbed by the ocean or expelled into the atmosphere. This is particularly important as the oceans regulate atmospheric CO2.

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June 2017: Continental Drilling and Northern Sweden... by Melanie Leng

In early June each year the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) committee meets to assess applications for drilling deep holes in the Earth. This year the meeting was held in Kiruna in northern Sweden. Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK’s geoscience ICDP community, and her trip to Kiruna as the UK’s representative on the ICDP Executive Committee.

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May 2017: The Past Global Changes Open Science Meeting, Zaragoza... by PhD student Savannah Worne

"The PAGES (Past Global Changes) project is an international effort to coordinate and promote past global change research. The primary objective is to improve our understanding of past changes in the Earth system in order to improve projections of future climate and environment, and inform strategies for sustainability." (www.pages-osm.org, Accessed May 2017).

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May 2017: First meeting of the UK consortium of the DeepCHALLA project... by Heather Moorhouse

We held the first meeting of UK scientists working on the International Continental scientific Drilling Programme's DeepCHALLA project at a very rainy BGS Keyworth. This NERC funded consortium of scientists is part of a large, international team that will investigate over 214 metres of lake sediment cores dating back to ~250,000 years, to understand climate change in equatorial east Africa.

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April 2017: The European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna... by Jack Lacey, Melanie Leng, & Andi Smith

In April, 14,496 scientists from 107 countries participated in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. Over the course of the five–day conference there were an astounding 4,849 oral and 11,312 poster presentations, with several authored by staff from the British Geological Survey. The BGS Stable Isotope Facility was represented by Jack Lacey, Melanie Leng, and Andi Smith. In this blog they report on their week at EGU and tell us about the work they presented on lake and speleothem records...

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March 2017: An exciting new development in soil phosphate oxygen isotope analysis... by Andi Smith

In early February, Andi Smith (Stable Isotope Facility) and Sammi Coyle (PhD student joint with The University of Nottingham and Scotland’s Rural College) visited collaborators at Rothamsted Research (North Wyke, Devon), to learn more about one of our most exciting stable isotope techniques developments. Rothamsted Research is a world-leading research centre in plant and soil science for sustainable agriculture. Here, Andi explains a bit more about their visit and why we should all be interested in phosphate oxygen isotope analysis...

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March 2017: Starting my PhD with the British Geological Survey... by James Williams

Hello, my name is James and I have recently started my PhD at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University and the British Geological Survey. During my PhD, I will investigate the mechanisms that have driven glacial retreat along the Antarctic Peninsula coastline over the last 2,000 years. In order to do this, I will utilise the geochemistry of diatoms collected from a suite of British Antarctic Survey sediment cores. Diatoms produce a hard shell (frustule) of silicate that is preserved in the sediment record, the geochemistry of which can be used as a proxy of glacial discharge and meltwater input to the ocean as a result of melting....

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February: Investigating Climate and Environmental Change in Eastern Australia (Part 2)... by Melanie Leng

In May 2016 Melanie blogged about her role in a project led by Dr John Tibby and Dr Cameron Barr (from University of Adelaide) on understanding climate change in eastern Australia. This is difficult because few archives of climate change exist in eastern Australia. The team developed a climate record based on the chemistry (carbon isotope ratios) of the broad-leaved paperbark tree, which they correlated to water stress. As a result of that research, Melanie was invited to the University of Adelaide to discuss future collaboration on recent climate change in eastern Australia and visit North Stradbroke Island which was the focus of the original study. Here Mel tells us about her trip...

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February: Bye Bye to Jonathan Dean At the end of February

Jonathan Dean will bid farewell to the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey to start a lectureship at the University of Hull, here he looks back on his time in Keyworth...

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2016

Geochemistry Networking Event held in December 2016... by Ginnie Panizzo

On the 16th December 2016 the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (CEG) held a Networking event between key female geoscience researchers the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the University of Nottingham (UoN). The main impetus behind the event was to encourage collaboration between Anne McLaren Research Fellows of the UoN from the Schools of Biosciences, Geography, Chemistry and Faculty of Engineering, with other female researchers at the BGS. The invitation was extended to other early and mid-career researchers at the School of Archaeology, due to the strong research linkages with the Stable Isotope Facility at BGS. Find out more about this event below...

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November: The International Conference in Paleoceanography 2016... by Sonja Felder and Rowan Dejardin

It's us again, Sonja and Rowan, two BGS BUFI PhD students. Recently we took part in the twelfth International Conference in Paleoceanography, aka "ICP" in Utrecht, Netherlands. Held every three years, ICP is the biggest international paleoceanography conference, so it was unsurprising that some of the biggest names in the field turned up to present their work. This gave those of us new to the field a great opportunity to discuss our work and socialise with them at events like the conference dinner or the traditional "paleomusicology" concert. Find out more from Sonja and Rowan here...

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November: Learning the fundamentals of continental scientific drilling with ICDP at GFZ, Potsdam... by Jack Lacey

Imaging a core on the line scanning device at the BGR Core Repository (the core is rotated during a scan producing an 'unrolled' image of the whole outer surface.)

The International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) is a global initiative that provides financial and operational support for multinational research teams to drill the Earth’s continental crust, with the principle aim of better understanding our Earth system through cutting-edge transdisciplinary scientific research. ICDP has supported drilling projects across the world to investigate a broad range of science themes, including geological hazards, natural resources, and palaeoclimate, find out more about the ICDP and BGS involvement below...

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October: Examining the chemistry of mushrooms: a valuable tool for archaeology?... by Angela Lamb

The edible oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, in Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve, Lancashire

Mushrooms are a common part of modern human diets, yet they are rarely considered from an archaeological perspective. As soft-bodied organisms they readily rot, so are very rarely found on archaeological sites. Search for academic papers on archaeology and fungi and you are most likely to find articles discussing how microscopic fungi eat wall paintings and artefacts, and there are very few examples of mushrooms in relation to diet. Here Dr Angela Lamb tells us a bit more about the chemistry of mushrooms and their use in archaeology...

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October: Linking Geology & Biology in Europe's oldest lake: a 1.3 million-year record of climate change and evolution from Lake Ohrid... by Jack Lacey and Melanie Leng

Lake Ohrid SCOPSCO science team, photo courtesy of F. Wagner-Cremer.

The Lake Ohrid drilling project has featured regularly on Geoblogy over past years, now reaching its final stages Jack Lacey and Melanie Leng from the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry travelled to the Netherlands to attend the 6th project workshop in Utrecht. Here they report on the meeting and provide a much overdue update on this ground-breaking interdisciplinary research...

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August: The start of a major new research project... by Carol Arrowsmith

Carol trying out a snowmobile at the British Antarctic Survey

A major new project to investigate how heat and carbon is transferred around the oceans kicked off in April. Here Carol Arrowsmith, a senior technician with the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey (BGS) tells us how the BGS are contributing to this important research...

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August: Geochemical work experience at the BGS... by Grace Nicholls

Liam and Grace in the Stable Isotope Facility

Hi, I’m Grace, a sixth form student at Rushcliffe School. This past week I have been doing work experience at the British Geological Survey (BGS), a world leading geological survey who work to research environmental processes. I have a keen interest in geography so wanted to experience real life research into the relationship between past climates and the world as we know it today. This week I have been in the Stable Isotope Facility working in the geochemistry labs undertaking a wide range of techniques that are used in environmental change, pollution and hydrology. Overall I have found it fascinating seeing all the different scientific analysis that underpins climate change research, as well as how chemistry and geography work hand in hand with one another. Read more about Graces experience here...

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August: My Work Experience Week in the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey... by Liam Curtis

Liam and Grace in the Stable Isotope Facility

Liam Curtis is a 6th form student at Rushcliffe School who has just finished a week of work experience placement at the British Geological Survey (BGS). Liam and Grace (who is also writing a blog, keep your eyes peeled) spent a week at the stable isotope facility at the BGS, here he tells us a little more about his experiences...

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June 2016: Continental Drilling and South Korea... by Melanie Leng

The ICDP Executive Committee on Jeju Island

In early June each year the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) committee meets to assess applications for drilling deep holes in the Earth. This year the meeting was held on Jeju Island (off South Korea). Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK's geoscience community involvement and her trip to South Korea...

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June 2016: A blog by Prof Melanie Leng on her career as a geochemist on the "Girls Into Geoscience" website.

Mel Leng

Melanie Leng is the director of the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey and a Professor of Isotope Geoscience at Nottingham University. In the following blog Mel tells us why she decided to pursue a career in geoscience, what she enjoys about her current roles and offers some advice to those who may be interested in a similar career path...

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May 2016: More on our project investigating human impact on Malaysian wetlands... this time by Masters student Charly Briddon

Charly Briddon on Tasik Chini undertaking a diatom habitat survey.

Hi, my name is Charly Briddon and I am Keele University student currently undertaking research for my MSc in Geoscience. For my international placement I have joined a collaborative project within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry (a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey) involving supervisors at Keele University (Dr Antonia Law), University of Nottingham (Dr Suzanne McGowan) and the British Geological Survey (Dr Keely Mills). This has given me the opportunity to spend six months at the University of Nottingham Campus in Malaysia investigating how human activities within the lake catchment of a really special wetland system (Tasik Chini) has changed the lake ecology over time...

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May 2016: Reconstructing the pollution history of southeast Asian wetlands... by Stefan Engels

Stefan with field assistant Charlotte (a BSc student from Keele University)collecting plant samples.

How time flies! It has only been about 4 months since I started my new job as a research fellow with Melanie Leng and Suzanne McGowan within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry. The main aim of my research project is to reconstruct the pollution history of southeast Asian wetland systems, and one of the first locations that we selected as a study–site was Tasik Chini on the Malaysian peninsula, here I tell you about progress to date...

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May 2016: Are land–use decisions by African elephants influenced by environmental geochemistry?... by Michael Watts, Lisa Yon and Stephen Cunningham

elephants

This is a unique, interdisciplinary project involving environmental geochemistry, plant science, and animal health between a range of partners, including BGS and the University of Nottingham (UoN) to address research questions which have important and practical implications for wildlife health and conservation. In the first phase of the project, mineral levels in a range of biological samples (serum, hair, nails) from elephants at five UK zoos will be measured to validate their use as possible biomarkers of mineral status in wild elephants. The mineral content of food, soil and water consumed by these elephants will be determined.

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April 2016: Investigating Climate Change in Eastern Australia... by Melanie Leng


Cameron Barr sampling leaves from the paperbark tree on Fraser Island, Queensland

In the stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological survey we spend most of our time collaborating with UK universities and research institutes. However, every now and again we get an opportunity that's too good to be true... One such opportunity came a few of years ago when an email popped into my inbox from Australia. Dr John Tibby and Dr Cameron Barr (from the University of Adelaide) explained that in Australia they have a particular problem in that there are relatively few geological archives of climate change, so researchers into past climate tend to rely on short timescale corals (which can be related to seawater salinity and temperatures) or tree rings (a proxy for rainfall amount). However, both corals and trees tend to only live for a few hundred years, so they were keen to develop new records of Australian climate...

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April 2016: Dama: the deer that walked the world... by Naomi Sykes

Fallow deer

Back in 2011 we began an international research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to explore the natural and cultural history of the European Fallow Deer (Dama dama dama). Over the last four years we have been working with (in alphabetical order!) anthropologists, archaeologists, (art) historians, deer stalkers, geochemists, geneticists, museum curators and zoologists to gather all available information that might help us to understand better the timing and circumstances by which this elegant and beautiful deer spread around the world.

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March 2016: From ice age insects to the tropics: an introduction to new postdoctoral researcher... by Stefan Engels

Stefan Engels in the field

Hello, my name is Stefan Engels and I've just started a 3–year postdoctoral research project within the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, between the School of Geography (University of Nottingham) and the BGS. I am a Dutch guy who's lived most of his life in Utrecht. The Netherlands. I completed my PhD research at the Free University of Amsterdam, where I studied subfossil chironomid remains (insect jaws!) found in lake sediment records that were dated to the last glacial period around 50,000 years ago. I used the fossil insects of lakes to reconstruct past ecosystem development and to quantitatively infer past summer temperatures. My results showed that summer temperatures were probably as high as today across large parts of Europe during the middle of the last glacial, which was quite a surprise!

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March 2016: IODP Expedition 346 – 2nd post – cruise meeting... by Sonja Felder


Sonja Felder

PhD student at Newcastle University Sonja is a second year PhD student at the University of Newcastle who is researching the environmental and climatic development of the Sea of Japan / East Sea during the last ~1 Million years. Here Sonja tells us about work she presented at the IODP post cruise meeting and her experience of presenting her work...

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February 2016: Dr Angela Lamb to be a Featured Researcher for the RCUK: Association for Science Education event

My Research Day

During the Association for Science Education’s Research Focus week (beginning 29 February 2016) Dr Angela Lamb’s career will be profiled on the ASE’s webpage. This Focus week is designed to complement the RCUK funded series ‘Research focused teaching resources to inspire students in STEM Careers’ and is aimed at young people aged 14-16+ interested in a career in STEM subjects.

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February 2016: The new Stable Isotope Facility Google Scholar page

Laboratory image

Browse the Google Scholar citations.

January 2016: A new PhD researching the effects of variation in the orbit of the Earth around the sun... by Savannah Worne

Savannah Worne

Savannah is a new PhD student who started at the University of Nottingham and the BGS in September 2015. Here Savannah tells us more about her new PhD and the work she is hoping to undertake...

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January 2016: From tiny seeds grow... by PhD student Leslie Bode

Leslie Bode

Hi, my name is Leslie Bode, and I am exploring new applications of archaeobotanical isotopic research. I am currently a 3rd year PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham and am co-supervised between Archaeology (Dr Alexandra Livarda) and Geography (Dr Matthew Jones). I also receive a lot of extra isotope guidance from Dr Angela Lamb at the British Geological Survey… Thanks to a NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility grant, I am using a combination of archaeobotanical and stable carbon isotope (δ13C) analysis of charred (carbonized) seed remains from Kharaneh IV (a ca. 20,000 year old archaeological site in the Azraq Basin in Eastern Jordan) to test whether the plants living during this period and, by extension, the hunter–gatherers using this ancient site experienced water stress. I’m especially interested in whether water stress increased leading up to the site’s abandonment almost 20,000 years ago: did a lack of water contribute to collapse?

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January 2016: Millions of years of lake sediment: looking at the links between climate change and human evolution... by Jonathan Dean

Jonathan Dean

Jonathan Dean is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant working at the Stable Isotope Facility at the British Geological Survey, and here he gives us an update on the research project he is involved with, investigating climate changes and human evolution...

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January 2016: Oxygen Isotopes in Speleothems... By Andi Smith

speleothem deposits

Andi Smith from the British Geological Survey explains how oxygen isotopes are incorporated in to speleothems (stalagmites and stalactites) and how this chemical record can be critical to scientists who use speleothems to interpret changes in past climate.

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