Dr Christopher Vane

Dr Christopher Vane

Head of Organic Geochemistry

Location: Keyworth

Tel: 0115 936 3017

E-mail Dr Christopher Vane


  •  2013 – ongoing : Environmental Observations and Change Team Leader (BGS)
  •  2002 – ongoing : Head of Organic Geochemistry (BGS)
  •  2000 : Postdoctoral Research, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
  •  1998 : Postdoctoral Research, Pennsylvania State University, USA
  •  1997 : PhD University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Organic Geochemistry
  •  1993 : MSc University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Petroleum Geochemistry

Professional association

  • Fellow of the Geological Society

Research interests

  • Application of sediment toxicity tests (microtox) to sediments containing a mix of both organic and metal pollutants
  • Geochemical markers of palaeostorms, Hurricanes and Tsunamis.
  • Natural organic compounds including lipids and macromolecules such as lignin carry a wealth of structural and isotopic information that I utilise to address challenges across a broad range of science areas including palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimate reconstructions, cycling of organic matter in the coastal zone and sea level rise. All of the above research uses a variety of state-of-the-art analytical techniques including gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS-MS) housed with the organic geochemistry laboratory at BGS.
  • Organic Geochemistry of black shales for unconventional hydrocarbons i.e. shale gas. Characterisation of shale organic matter quality and kerogen typing using Rock-Eval pyrolysis and analytical pyrolysis
  • The main thrust of my research is molecular organic geochemistry, particularly applied to estuarine and coastal sediments, as well as urban soils and waters. My current research interests are focused on tracking the source and understanding the post depositional fate of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PAHs, PCBs as well as sewerage at the molecular level in estuaries and coastal zone in the UK (Thames, Clyde, Mersey) and other locations in the world. I use changes in POPs and metals to correlate across coastal sediments and understand the potential risk and impact on humans and the ecology.

Current projects and collaboration

  • Assessment of sedimentary hosted pollution including persistent organic pollutants (POPs) TPH, PAHs and PCBs in estuaries in close proximity to urban–industrial centres including tidal Thames (Gravesend to Kew). Also includes application of 206/207 Pb isotopes and 137Cs to underpin chronostratigraphy.
  • – ongoing Biogechemistry of Coasts: Chemical characterisation of mangrove vegetation decayed by arboreal termites. Sedimentary, nest and trail composition in a Pterocarpus/Avicennia/Rhizophra floral zones.
  • Carbon storage in Holocene sediments. Production, chemical and isotopic composition, transport pathways and transformations of organic carbon in salt marsh and mangrove environments.
  • Technical method development: Effect of sample preparation on the concentrations of PAH in Soils
  • – ongoing Tracking sewage pollution in river and lake sediments using organic biomarkers (sterols and stanols)
  •  2009 –2012 : Impacts of hydrological variability on the material transfers through the River–Estuary transition zone. NERC Std Grant with Universities of Bangor and Aberystwyth (2009–2012). Identification of terrestrial source contributions to the pool of suspended particulate organic matter (SPOM) in the river–estuary transition zone using lignin marker compounds.
  •  2008 –2013 : Evidence of Sea Level Change, reconstruction of former sea levels usingsalt marsh (High-mid latitude) and mangroves sediments (Low latitude). Collaboration with sea level research team (Prof. B.P Horton) at University of Pennsylvania, USA via BUFI studentship.

Published outputs

Key papers

VANE, C.H., KIM, A.W., BERIRO, D.J., CAVE, M.R., KNIGHTS, K., MOSS-HAYES, V. and NATHANIAL, P.C. 2014. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in urban soils of Greater London UK. Applied Geochemistry (In press)

VANE, C.H., KIM, A.W., MOSS-HAYES V, SNAPE C.E, CASTRO-DIAZ, M., KHAN, N.S., ENGELHART S.E. AND HORTON, B.P. 2013. Mangrove tissue decay by arboreal termites (Nasutitermes acajutlae) and their role in the mangrove C cycle (Puerto Rico): Chemical characterisation and organic matter provenance using bulk δ13C, C/N, alkaline CuO oxidation-GC/MS and solid-state 13C NMR. Geochemsistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14, 8, 3176-3191.

VANE, C.H., RAWLINS. B.G., KIM, A.W., MOSS-HAYES, V., KENDRICK, C.P., LENG M.J. 2013. Sedimentary transport and fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from managed burning of moorland vegetation on a blanket peat, South Yorkshire, U.K. Science of the Total Environment, 449, 81-94.

VANE, C.H., CHENERY, S.R., HARRISON, I., KIM, A.W., MOSS-HAYES, V., JONES, D.G. 2011. Chemical signatures of the Anthropocene in the Clyde Estuary, UK: Sediment hosted Pb, 207/206Pb, Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) and Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Pollution Records. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (A) 369, 1085-1111.

VANE, C.H., KIM, A.W., McGOWAN, S., LENG, M.J., HEATON, T.H.E., KENDRICK, C., COOMBS, P., YANG, H., SWANN, G.E.A. 2010. Sedimentary records of sewage pollution using faecal markers in contrasting peri-urban shallow lakes. Science of the Total Environment 409, 345-356.

KEMP, A.C., VANE, C.H., HORTON, B.P. CULVER S.J. 2010. Stable carbon isotopes as sea-level indicators in salt marshes. The Holocene 20(4)623-636.

VANE, C.H. YUN-JUAN MA, SHE-JUN CHEN and BI-XIAN MAI. 2010. Inventory of Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in sediments of the Clyde Estuary, U.K. Environmental Geochemistry & Health, 32, 13-21.

VANE, C.H. JONES, D.G., and LISTER T.R. 2009. Mercury contamination in surface sediments and sediment cores of the Mersey Estuary, UK. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 58, 6, 940-946.

VANE, C.H., HARRISON, I and KIM, A.W. MOSS-Hayes, V., Vickers, B.P., Hong, K. 2009. Organic and Metal Contamination in Surface Mangrove Sediments of South China. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 58, 14-144.

VANE, C.H., HARRISON, I and KIM, A.W. MOSS-HAYES, V., VICKERS, B.P., HORTON., B.P.  2008. Status of Organic Pollutants in Surface Sediments of Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary, New Jersey, USA. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 56, 10, 1802-1808.

VANE, C.H., HARRISON; I and KIM, A.W. 2007. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in sediments from the Mersey Estuary, U.K. Science of the Total Environment 374, 112-126.

VANE, C.H., DRAGE, T.C., and SNAPE, C.E. 2006. Bark Decay by the white-rot fungus Lentinula edodes:  Polysaccharide loss, lignin resistance and the unmasking of suberin. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation,  57, 14-23.

Research partners