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Research Activities 2012

Earth Environment





In 2012, we welcomed three new staff members to the Earth Environment Area. Dr Jimin Yu joined us from the Lamont Doherty Observatory. He started working with Dr S. Eggins and Dr M. Ellwood to investigate new isotopic proxies to understand the links between climate change and ocean chemistry.

Dr Robert Strzepek joined us to work with Dr M. Ellwood on nutrient isotope fractionation in the Southern Ocean.

We were also very pleased to attract Prof Eelco Rohling, from University of Southampton, to our Area. He was awarded a prestigious Laureate Fellowship in 2012, which he will take up in early 2013. The Laureate Fellowship, and supporting funds from the Vice Chancellor, will allow Prof Rohling to set up new stable isotope laboratories and establish a large research group that will focus on sea-level change. I expect that the integration of our existing research in marine sciences with that of Prof Rohling will result in a world-leading research programme for ocean and climate change.

Four new PhD students joined Earth Environment in 2012: Ms Alena Kimbrough, to work under the supervision of Dr M. Gagan, Mr Anthony David, to work with Dr B. Opdyke, Ms Moneesha Samanta, with Dr M. Ellwood, and Mr Robert Burne, with Dr S. Eggins.

Two of our PhD students submitted their theses in 2012: Mr Kyle Horner, supervised by Dr D.C. McPhail, on new environmental tracer methods for quantifying solute sources in semi-arid alluvial aquifers, and Mr Nicolas Darrenougue, supervised by Prof P. De Deckker, on rhodoliths as environmental archives in the tropics.

ARC grants awarded for funding beginning in 2012 allow us to explore new, exciting avenues of environmental research. The grant success showcases the analytical capabilities of Earth Environment and the diverse applications and research interests that are pursued by Earth Environment staff members.

Dr David Heslop was funded to study sediments from the oceans around Australia to understand how the Earth's magnetic field was recorded. He will use this information to construct a new generation of computer models that will provide insights into the physics of the recording process. The research is underpinned by Prof A. Roberts's ARC grant to set up a world-class rock magnetic facility to support Australian palaeomagnetic and environmental research. Prof Bradley Pillans was successful with an ARC Linkage Grant for exploring landscape evolution, environmental change and human occupation history at Lake George.

The outstanding quality of our students was perhaps best demonstrated by Ms Kelsie Long (Honours student) who was awarded the best student presentation prize at the Australian Archaeological Association meeting, and by Ms Rebecca Kaye (Honours) who was awarded the best student presentation at the ACT branch of the Australian Atmospheric and Oceanographic Society.

The high research profile of Earth Environment continues to be documented by the numerous publications in world leading journals such as Nature, Nature Geosciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Quaternary Science Reviews, and Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. In 2012 Dr Marc Norman was appointed as Executive Editor for the world’s leading geochemistry journal, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

One of the outstanding highlights of 2012 was the election of Prof Patrick De Deckker to the Academy of Science in May.

Earth Environment staff has been prominently involved in the RSES teaching activities in Earth and Marine sciences, as well as other undergraduate programs. The large number of students based in our Area documents their success.

None of our 2012 research activities were possible without our experienced and dedicated technical staff, Mr Joe Cali, Mrs Joan Cowley, Mr Les Kinsley, Mrs Linda McMorrow, Dr Graham Mortimer, Mrs Heather Scott-Gagan, and Mrs Judith Shelley. A number of casual staff have also assisted our research efforts. I am particularly grateful to our Area Administrator, Mrs Robyn Petch who continues to go the extra mile in managing our administration.

Professor Rainer GrĂ¼n
Associate Director, Earth Environment


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