Research projects

Below we list current research topics in RSES, with links to relevant researchers and research groups. For a list of potential student projects and PhD topics, please refer to the potential project student page

Cosmochemistry

Exposure dating is based on the principle that cosmogenic nuclides accumulate in surface rocks as a function of time. After a geological process freshly exposes a rock surface, these cosmogenic nuclides build up at a known rate. Measurement of their present-day abundance, in conjunction with knowledge of the rate...
Current
The extensive early Archean rock records preserved in southwest Greenland and western Australia carry a wealth of information on the formation of Earth's early chemical domains, the age and composition of the oldest continents and the character of the early atmosphere and hydrosphere.  Although these rocks range...
Current
Cosmogenic nuclides have become indispensable for dating lava flows. Drs Masahiko Honda and Timothy Barrows are dating lavas that have proven too young to date using traditional K/Ar and Ar/Ar techniques. Volcanism has occurred in western Victoria from the Pliocene throughout the Pleistocene. The style of eruption...
Current
Exposure dating has revolutionised the study of the history of glaciers and ice sheets. By directly dating glacial debris and eroded bedrock, the timing of the advance and retreat of the ice (a sensitive indicator of climate) can be determined with unprecedented reliability. Dr Timothy T. Barrows is using this...
Current
Small zircon crystals found in sediments from the Jack Hills, Western Australia are the oldest terrestrial materials yet identified and provide a unique perspective on Earth's early history, before the start of the preserved rock record at about 4 Ga. The difficulty is that the most ancient zircons, with ages >4 Ga...
Current
Production of the classic Barrovian metamorphic facies series in Scotland was associated with a period mountain building referred to as Grampian orogenesis. Recent geochronological work from the Grampian terrane, Scotland has the Grampian orogenic episode beginning at c . 478 Ma and lasting for less than...
Current
The isotopic composition of oxygen in the solar system is widely variable. On a three-isotope plot of 17O/16O vs 18O/16O there is a linear trend indicating that the predominant variable is the abundance of 16O. Relative to terrestrial compositions, refractory...
Current
At 4.567 billion years old, refractory inclusions are the oldest known objects to have formed in the solar system. They are often referred to as calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions (CAI) because their chemistry is dominated by the refractory oxides of Ca and Al, as well as Ti, forming minerals such as hibonite (CaAl...
Current
Condensation around stars leads to a predictable mineralogy based on the composition of the atmosphere of the star. The condensates, like stars, may be oxygen-rich or carbon-rich. The first presolar grains discovered were all C-rich. Minerals such as diamond, silicon carbide and graphite are resistant to acid...
Current

Climate and Fluid Physics

Over the past decade, the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets have been loosing its mass at an alarming rate.  Antarctic ice-shelves are melting by turbulent transport of heat and salt to the ice face, predominantly under the influence of warmer Circumpolar Deep Water entering ice shelf cavities from the surrounding...
Current
Convection is one of the major modes of heat transfer in fluids and is especially important given the large scales of most geophysical flows. Heat transfer by natural convection plays a significant role in the structure of Earth's atmosphere, oceans and mantle. Flow in a horizontal...
Current
Turbulent mixing plays an important role in the oceanic circulation energy balance. Energy is input at large scales from tides and surface wind stresses, and provides the energy required to bring deep, dense water back towards the surface via mixing. Mixing can...
Current
The Southern Ocean encircles Antarctica, dividing the polar regions from the warm tropical ocean. It is home to the world's strongest ocean current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and is the primary location where ancient, deep ocean water is upwelled to the surface.  The Southern Ocean controls the natural...
Current
Convection at an evoporating surface
The ocean-atmosphere interface is a highly complex and extremely important part of the climate system. The dynamics and thermodynamics of the sea surface govern fluxes of heat, momentum and CO2 between the atmosphere...
Current

Environmental Geodesy

The program monitors the postglacial rebound which may be occurring near the Lambert Glacier, Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica since the Last Glacial Maximum. A transect of permanent GPS sites has been established from the coast up to 450 km inland. The aim of the project is to estimate absolute vertical...
Current
The island of Sifnos in the Aegean Sea , Cyclades ( Greece ) is well known for its spectacular and well preserved blueschists and eclogites. The best preserved assemblages occur in structurally high tectonic slices that outcrop in the north of the island.  These slices occur in the upper-plate of a major detachment...
Current
The Aegean Blueschist Belt is one of the most studied extensional zones on Earth. However still there is disagreement as to the complex tectonic history and exhumation of the HP/LT eclogite and blueschist rocks. New and extensive geochronology studies with meso-scale and micro-scale structural analysis of the...
Current
Complex arrays of laterally extensive movement zones occur beneath the Austro-Alpine 'cold lid' of the European Alps. These shear zones operated as extensional movement zones at various times during the tectonic evolution of the Alps, however meso-scale and micro-scale structural analysis show the tectonic history...
Current
For more information on this project please visit the GRACE website.
Current
The ability to detect monthly mass changes through space-geodetic missions provides the capability to assess changes in the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. Decreases in mass imply that the cryosphere is melting and increasing the volume of the oceans whereas increases in mass imply increased precipitation...
Current
Microstructural analysis with micro-scale based 40 Ar/ 39 Ar geochronology has been used to differentiate between different deformational events in the extensional zone of the central Agean Sea, Greece. North/south directed extension in the central Aegean has been largely accommodated by the...
Current
Changes in mass balance (or the amount of ice that has melted) can be measured using space-geodetic techniques that detect variations in the Earth's gravity field and changes in ice height. Both satellite altimetry (used to measure ice topography heights) and GRACE (measures changes in potential) are sensitive to...
Current
Understanding present-day melting patterns of polar ice caps and the contribution to present-day sea level variations requires first unravelling the puzzle of how the continents are still adjusting after the melting that has occurred since the Last Glacial Maximum around 10,000 years ago. This is a complicated...
Current
Understanding present-day melting patterns of polar ice caps and the contribution to present-day sea level variations requires first unravelling the puzzle of how the continents are still adjusting after the melting that has occurred since the Last Glacial Maximum around 10,000 years ago. This is a complicated...
Current

Underworld Geodynamics

Underworld Geodynamics Modelling software Current

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