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Quaternary Geoscience and Palaeoclimatology

Quaternary Geoscience and Palaeoclimatology

The UCD Palaeoclimatology and Quaternary Geoscience Group’s research focuses on past climates, from the Mesozoic to the present-day, and how changes in past climates shaped today’s landscape.  A key goal is to quantify past climatic and geomorphic changes to provide context for the ongoing anthropogenically driven change.

The Group investigates three aspects of Paleoclimatology and Quaternary Geoscience as follows: (i) Constraining the causes and timing of past super-greenhouse climatic events (e.g. the Mesozoic Oceanic Anoxic Events, Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum), associated changes in bio-geochemical cycles, and subsequent Earth system feedback mechanisms (organic and inorganic carbon sequestration) in marine and continental basins, as well as the long-term climatic evolution across the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic; (ii) High-resolution reconstruction of late Quaternary terrestrial past climates across both glacial and interglacial states, to investigate the fundamental processes operating within Earth’s climate system and to support climate model-data comparisons and (iii) Examining connections between past climate change and landscape evolution as recorded in the geologic record.

Paleoclimatic conditions are reconstructed using a wide variety of proxy records including cave deposits such as stalagmites and flowstones, sediment archives, sedimentary rocks and their terrestrial fossils, and from the glacial-geomorphic record. In examining these proxy records, the Group employs a wide range of field- and laboratory-based methods, using state-of-the-art inhouse facilities in the National Centre for Isotope Geochemistry, the UCD cosmogenic isotope facility and through external collaborations.

Methods include sedimentology, integrated stratigraphy, stable carbon isotopes (IR-MS), molecular biomarker analysis, major and trace element analysis (XRF and ICP-MS), Re-Os systematics, Sr-isotopes, U-series dating and cosmogenic  (10Be, 26Al) exposure dating.  The Group’s work links to other research groups in the School, including the Geochemistry, Petrology and Geochronology, Geohazards, Marine and Earth Surface Processes and Paleobiologic Groups.

Recent publications

Cruz, J.A., McDermott, F., Turrero, M.J., Edwards, R.L.,  Martín-Chivelet, J.. 2021. Strong links between Saharan dust fluxes, monsoon strength, and North Atlantic climate during the last 5000 years. Science Advances 2021; 7 : eabe6102

Deininger,M., McDermott, F., Cruz, F.W., Bernal, J.P., Mudelsee, M., Vonhof, H., Millo, C., Spötl, C., Treble, P.C., Pickering, R., Scholz, D. (2020). Nature Communications 11:5447

Xu, W., Weijers, J.W.H., Ruhl, M., Idiz, E.F., Jenkyns, H.C., Riding, J.B., Gorbanenko, O., Hesselbo, S.P. (2021) Molecular and petrographical evidence for lacustrine environmental and biotic change in the palaeo-sichuan mega-lake (China) during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 514(1):335-357

Storm, M.S., Hesselbo, S.P., Jenkyns, H.C., Ruhl, M., Ullmann, C.V., Xu, W., Leng, M.J., Riding, J.B., Gorbanenko, O. (2020) Orbital pacing and secular evolution of the Early Jurassic carbon cycle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(8):3974-3982

Gauthier, M.S., Kelley, S.E., Hodder, T.J., 2020. Lake Agassiz drainage bracketed by Holocene Hudson Bay Ice Saddle collapse. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 544, 116372

Kelley, S. E., Briner, J.P., O’Hara, S.L., 2018. Assessing ice margin fluctuations on differing timescales: Chronological constraints from Sermeq Kujatdleq and Nordenskiöld Gletscher, central West Greenland. The Holocene, v. 29, p. 116-1172