Stable isotope facility research in the media


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


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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