PhD opportunities for 2018 are now open

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All our doctoral training opportunities are through Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) or Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT). We do not fund individuals and you will usually apply directly through the host university or DTP or CDT.

Eligibility: NERC studentships are bound by the Research Councils UK Grant Terms and Conditions including residency and minimum qualifications. Doctoral Training in Environmental Research in the UK provides a useful summary of these.

The BGS supports three types of PhD projects — Hosted, CASE and Joint. Opportunities for 2018 are listed below by by PhD project type and BGS science area. New opportunities are added as they are made available so please check our site or Twitter @DocBGS regularly.

BGS Hosted opportunities

BGS Global
Reconstructing 2000 years of hydrological change in Africa – implications for future climate scenarios

BGS supervisor: Keely Mills

University supervisor: Matt Jones

DTP: ENVISION, Nottingham University

DTP project details: http://www.envision-dtp.org/2017/reconstructing-2000-years-of-hydrological-change-in-africa-implications-for-future-climate-scenarios-2/

Project Description

Lake systems in Africa provide drinking water to some of Earth’s fastest growing and most vulnerable human populations. In response to climatic and anthropogenic pressure, such as land-use changes, lakes are under threat from changes in water balance and water quality. There is an urgent need for regional climate information from tropical regions to allow the downscaling of climate projections that will aid the setting of useful policy, management and adaptation targets. Knowledge of hydrological variability and its associated temporal and spatial patterns are essential for developing sustainable water resources and land use management in this region, and ensuring agricultural security. This studentship will involve the production of new proxy timeseries for hydrological change in Uganda over the last 2000 years using lake isotope records. In addition, monitoring and hydrogeological data will be used to derive hydrological mass balance models for the lake systems. These new data and modelling approaches will be used to investigate how anthropogenic activity affects local hydrological balance in recent decades, against a background of natural change, and the consequences of such impacts under future climate scenarios. As part of this studentship the successful candidate will have the opportunity to undertake fieldwork in Uganda, and develop research links with colleagues based in overseas institutions, including a training visit to Washington University, Missouri.

This research is collaboration between the BGS and the University of Nottingham. At BGS, the project will be located within the BGS Global Team and isotope analyses will be undertaken in partnership with the NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility. At UoN, the student will be based within the School of Geography.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Geography, Environmental Sciences, Geoscience, or Hydrogeology. An MSc in a related discipline would be an advantage.

How to apply: http://www.envision-dtp.org/projects/information/

Application deadline: Sunday 14th January 2018

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.
Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Further details: Please contact Keely Mills or Dr Matt Jones who will be happy to provide further information about this PhD project.

Centre for Environmental Geochemistry
Quantification of the dermal absorption of organic soil contaminants present for human health risk assessment of post-industrial brownfield land

BGS Supervisor: Christopher Vane and Daren Beriro

University Supervisor: Prof Paul Nathanail and Prof Russell Thomas

DTP: ENVISION, Nottingham

DTP project details: http://www.envision-dtp.org/2017/quantification-of-the-dermal-absorption-of-organic-soil-contaminants-present-for-human-health-risk-assessment-of-post-industrial-brownfield-land/

Project description

This PhD studentship is a unique opportunity to make significant advances in the field of organic geochemistry and risk-based land management of post-industrial brownfield land. Your research will supervised by a team of globally acknowledged thought leaders from the University of Nottingham (Prof Paul Nathanail), the BGS (Christopher Vane) and WSP (Prof Russell Thomas). You will develop in vitro laboratory methods to measure dermal absorption of organic soil contaminants associated with former gasworks sites. You will investigate some of the key controls on the release of these contaminants from soil by completing a placement in Australia of up to 6 months with a world leading research laboratory at the University of Newcastle, NSW under the supervision of Prof. Ravi Naidu. The project is part of a programme of industry led research into potential uptake of organic soil contaminants. The PhD CASE funding is provided by National Grid Property Holdings. WSP, an international geoenvironmental consultancy, will be your CASE partner and you will spend three months within the company gaining real-world experience. You will benefit from an extensive training programme within the University of Nottingham, the BGS and the University of Newcastle, Australia. You will learn how to use GC-MS/MS, FTIR, NMR and associated laboratory methods to an expert level. You will also be trained statistical and numerical modelling techniques to interpret and gain meaning from your results. The applied nature of the PhD means that this research project will provide you with an excellent chance of post-study employment in academia, government or the private sector.

The applicant will hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level in subjects such as Chemistry, Environmental Geoscience or Natural Sciences. A postgraduate qualification is desirable as is some industrial experience. A strong foundation in chemistry would be advantageous. Competition will be strong so the highest calibre candidates are encouraged to apply.

How to apply: http://www.envision-dtp.org/projects/information/

Application deadline: Sunday 14 January 2018

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.
Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Further details: For further details please contact Christopher Vane or Daren Beriro at the BGS.

Earth hazards and observatories
Physics-based forecasting of aftershock sequences

BGS supervisor: Margarita Segou

University supervisor: Dr Max Werner

DTP: GW4+, Research Theme Solid Earth, University of Bristol

Project description

Earthquakes continue to cause great suffering. Damage comes not only from unexpected great earthquakes but also from their catastrophic aftershocks. Examples of earthquake sequences with damaging aftershocks include the 2011 M6.3 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, the 2013 M6.9 Lushan earthquake in China, and the most recent 2016-2017 Central Italy earthquake cascade. To help communities prepare for pending disasters due to devastating aftershocks, real-time seismic hazard updates are required that provide the public, government and other end-users with the necessary input for informed decision-making. The goals of this PhD project are to improve our understanding of the physics of earthquake sequences and to provide time-dependent earthquake forecasts expressed either as event likelihoods or expected ground motions.

The first objective is to combine the implementation of physics-based forecasts with ground motion simulations that would allow us to develop prospective models of expected ground motion. The forecast models combine laboratory-derived rate-and-state friction laws with Coulomb failure theory. The goal is to investigate and compare how the transient earthquake probabilities modulate the the long-term seismic hazard in a high seismic hazard region. The predictive power of the forecast models, and therefore the importance of the physical mechanism, will be determined by comparing them against simple empirical/statistical models that are derived from averaging over past observations of aftershock sequences. Ground motion simulations will be further verified using ground motion prediction equations.

This new knowledge will be channeled back into the development of real-time earthquake forecast models that will be submitted to the Collaboratory for the Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP, www.cseptesting.org), where the models will be evaluated in an automated, blind and independent manner in a prospective mode. The attached figure presents statistical and physical forecasts for the first week following the 1989 Loma Prieta M=6.9 earthquake in Northern California (Segou et al., 2013).

We seek an enthusiastic student with broad interests in solid-earth geophysics, with a first degree in physics, geophysics, maths, statistics, engineering, computer science or other quantitative subject. The ideal candidate will have some experience in numerical modelling, and a strong interest in quantitative data analysis. The candidate will communicate effectively in verbal and written form, and present their work at international conferences. We seek a person that is highly motivated to work independently as well as in a team.

References

Segou et al. (2013), Comparative evaluation of physics-based and statistical forecasts in Northern California, J. Geophys. Res.

Field et al. (2017), A synoptic view of the Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3), Seismological Research Letters, vol. 88, no. 5, 1259-1267.

Links

University of Bristol

NERC GW4+ DTP Website

How to apply:

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/

Application process:

To apply for this BGS-hosted PhD, send the following to bufi@bgs.ac.uk:

  • covering letter
  • CV (with two academic references)
  • a personal statement written by you, the candidate; no longer than 1 page of A4, containing the PhD project title and detailing your reasons for applying to study a PhD and why you have selected the chosen doctoral research project You will also need to complete the online application form at the University of Bristol

Application deadline: 2359 GMT, Sunday 7 January 2018

Interviews will take place at the BGS Headquarters in Keyworth, Nottingham on Wednesday 14 February 2018.

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:
  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.
Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Further details: Please contact Margarita Segou

Groundwater
Integrating geological modelling and hydrogeological conceptualisation to improve simulations of groundwater flow in the Thames basin

BGS Supervisors: Marco Bianchi and Mark Woods

University Supervisor: Dr Adrian Butler

DTP: SSCP, Imperial College London

DTP project details: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CBiMo3mmqKUt3pSSXEuU7G3BK3YZSDec/view

Project description

One of the main challenges for numerical simulations of fluid flow and solute transport processes in geological media is how to represent subsurface heterogeneity realistically. Structural and textural characteristics of the formations across different scales control the spatial distribution of physical and geochemical properties, which, in turn, influence flow and transport processes. Because of the consistent progress in computational capabilities and the increased availability of geological data in digital formats, computer-based geological modelling has become a standard practice for producing geologically plausible digital representations of the subsurface. These models provide detailed information on geospatial relationships between geological units and structures, and allow the integration of raw geological data, interpolation methods, and expert geological knowledge.

Although promising results have been achieved in recent years, the integration of computer-based geological models into numerical models of fluid flow and solute transport is still a work in progress, and practical and theoretical issues remain about how to effectively transfer information between these models. For instance, geological models are usually constructed on the basis of lithostratigraphic boundaries and units, which may not always be directly converted into hydrogeological features. This project will developed methodologies to address these potential inconsistencies. Other relevant research areas that can be explored during the PhD project include spatial discretisation, parameterisation, integration of stochastic and deterministic approaches, numerical methods, and property upscaling approaches.

The aim of the project is to develop new approaches to improve the integration of computer-based geological modelling and numerical modelling tools, and apply these approaches to implement a comprehensive geo-/hydrogeological model of the Thames basin. The aquifer system in this basin (the Chalk) is strategic since it contains the majority of groundwater resources in the south and east of England. The hypothesis is that it is possible to improve the accuracy of simulations and of groundwater flow paths and residence times in the Chalk aquifer through integration of hydrogeological knowledge and data within recently created 3D geological models of the basin. This integration will require parameterisation of the hydrogeological properties of subsurface and implementation of numerical groundwater flow models that are consistent with the most up to date knowledge about the stratigraphic and structural settings of the aquifer system. One important outcome of the project will also be the identification of the different sources of uncertainty and a quantification of their impact on numerical modelling outputs.

How to apply:
To apply for this BGS-hosted PhD, send the following to bufi@bgs.ac.uk and copy to the lead supervisor, Marco Bianchi marcob@bgs.ac.uk:

  • covering letter
  • CV (with two academic references)
  • a personal statement written by you, the candidate, no longer than one page of A4, containing the PhD project title and detailing your reasons for applying to study a PhD and why you have selected the chosen doctoral research project

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Application deadline: 8 January 2018

Further details: for further information please contact Marco Bianchi marcob@bgs.ac.uk

Sensors for real-time monitoring of drinking water quality and treatment processes

BGS supervisors: Dan Lapworth and James Sorensen

University supervisors: Tom Bond and Kathy Pond, Surrey University

DTP: SCENARIO, Surrey

DTP project details: http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/nercdtp/home/available/desc/entry2018/SC201815.pdf

Project Description

Pathogens contaminate raw water supplies globally necessitating costly treatment of drinking water supplies. Natural organic matter (NOM) can produce harmful by-products such as tri-halo methane (THM) as a result of chlorine treatment which is widely used to disinfect microbes. There is a need for real-time sensors to monitor these processes in-situ due to the time required for standard incubation methods, chemical analysis and the transient nature of pathogen contamination and NOM in raw water supplies. Better understanding of the dynamic nature of pathogen contamination, disinfection-by product production potential as well as treatment processes may enable more efficient use of treatment technology as well as better understanding of the hydrological processes that control pathogen contamination including those related to intense episodic rainfall events. This research is relevant for improved monitoring, protection and management of drinking water supplies with potential applications in water utilities in both developed and developing economies.

This research project will focus on the application of novel in-situ fluorescence sensors for monitoring protein and humic signatures, which can be used as proxies for pathogens and disinfection by-product production e.g. tri-halo methane, in drinking water supplies and the down-stream treatment and water supply network (e.g. Sorensen et al 2015; Yang et al., 2015). Groundwater, the most abundant drinking water source globally, is the focus of this PhD. A network of sensors including high frequency in-situ measurements of raw water supplies using telemetry will be undertaken as well as roaming spot checking within the supply network to understand downstream processes to understand. Laboratory batch experiments will be undertaken to better understand the sensor detection capability and differentiate between different sources of fluorescence signal. Flow cytometry will be used to understand microbiological dynamics and discriminate between viable and non-viable organisms. In partnership with water supply utilities in the UK the novel application of new technology will be tested. Opportunities for deploying and using this technology for understanding pathogen contamination in municipal drinking water supplies in India and Africa will be explored as part of this research.

References

Sorensen, J P R, Lapworth, D J, Marchant, B P, Nkhuwa, D C W, Pedley, S, Stuart, M E,... & Chibesa, M. (2015). In situ tryptophan-like fluorescence: a real-time indicator of faecal contamination in drinking water supplies. Water research, 81, 38–46.

Yang, L, Kim, D, Uzun, H, Karanfil, T, & Hur, J. (2015). Assessing trihalomethanes (THMs) and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) formation potentials in drinking water treatment plants using fluorescence spectroscopy and parallel factor analysis. Chemosphere, 121, 84–91.

How to apply:

http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/nercdtp/home/apply.php

Application deadline: Monday 29 January 2018

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.
Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Further details: For further information or to discuss the project please contact Dan Lapworth

Minerals and waste
Europe's cobalt resource potential for supply to low carbon vehicles

BGS supervisor: Evi Petavratzi

University supervisor: Professor Frances Wall

DTP: GW4+, Research Theme Solid Earth, Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter

Project Description

Several metals, including lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese, are used in batteries for electric vehicles (EV). A 55% increase in EV sales was documented in 2016, which is twenty times greater than for ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. At the same time many countries intend to reduce or ban petrol/diesel vehicles in the future [2,3,4]. Cobalt has various important industrial applications[5], but the demand for cobalt in EV batteries is expected to grow exponentially in the future (Figure 1). Nearly two thirds of world mine production is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with only 1% from the EU [6]. Cobalt is a critical metal [7], a by-product and its extraction is linked with human rights' abuses [8]. Political uncertainties in the DRC, Europe's high import reliance and the requirement to procure cobalt from environmentally and socially sustainable sources highlights the urgent need for supply diversification to ensure security of supply. This project will address this issue through the study of 'unconventional' sources of cobalt, from geological environments such as shales and from 'waste' streams such as tailings and slags.

This project aims to: (I) analyse the supply chain for cobalt in Europe, to understand the current and future global demand and supply patterns and to identify supply constraints and opportunities for intervention; (II) identify the cobalt resource potential of Europe by investigating appropriate geological environments and 'novel' resources (e.g. mine waste and secondary raw materials).

A dynamic material flow analysis (MFA) model for cobalt in Europe following a whole life approach will be developed. This will allow the 'mapping' of current stocks and flows, and also for the future based on scenario building and analysis of demand changes. It will serve to identify the need for additional sources of supply from primary and secondary raw materials.

The geological studies will initially focus on the potential for cobalt production from nickel-copper sulphide and sediment-hosted copper deposits. Cobalt occurrences in other geological environments (e.g. shales) and from novel sources (e.g. copper slags) will be reviewed to determine their resource potential. These insights will be used to inform the scenarios of the MFA model.

Field studies on selected targets will include the collection of rock, drillcore and 'waste' samples for geochemical and mineralogical studies to determine the abundance and distribution of cobalt. This will provide a basis for determining their favourability as sources of cobalt for the European EV battery sector. Field areas in Finland, Poland and possibly elsewhere in Europe will be studied.

The project would suit a student with a first degree and/or Masters in geology, with clear emphasis on mineral resources and sustainability. Demonstrable interest in mineral resources, commodity markets, critical metals, security of supply and industrial ecology. The candidate should have excellent communication skills to allow effective interaction with relevant stakeholders from government, industry and academia.

References

[1] UBS (2017) Q-Series. UBS Evidence Lab Electric Car Teardown - Disruption Ahead. [online] Available at: http://www.advantagelithium.com/_resources/pdf/UBS-Article.pdf

[2] Financial Times (2017) Carmakers grapple with China’s electric vehicle drive.

[3] The Independent (2017) India to make every single car electric by 2030 in bid to tackle pollution that kills millions.

[4] Reuters (2017) Electric cars win? Britain to ban new petrol and diesel cars from 2040.

[5] BGS (2009) Mineral Profile – Cobalt. Keyworth, Nottingham: BGS p.17.

[6] BGS (2016). World Mineral Production 2010-2014 [online]. Keyworth, Nottingham BGS.

[7] European Commission (2017). Study on the review of the list of Critical Raw Materials. [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/raw-materials/specific-interest/critical_en

[8] Amnesty International (2016). "This is what we die for". Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt. [online] London, U.K.: Available at: https://www.amnestyusa.org/files/this_what_we_die_for_-_report.pdf.

Links

University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines

NERC GW4+ DTP Website

Application deadline: 2359 GMT, Sunday 7 January 2018

Interviews will take place at the BGS Headquarters in Keyworth, Nottingham on Wednesday 14 February 2018.

Application process:

To apply for this BGS-hosted PhD, send the following to bufi@bgs.ac.uk:
-Covering letter
-CV (with two academic references)
-a personal statement written by you, the candidate; no longer than 1 page of A4, containing the PhD project title and detailing your reasons for applying to study a PhD and why you have selected the chosen doctoral research project You will also need to complete the online application form at the University of Exeter

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.
Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Further details: Please contact Evi Petavratzi

NIGL
The life and times of porphyry copper deposits in the Archean?

BGS supervisor: Simon Tapster

University supervisor: Dr Ian Parkinson

DTP: GW4+, Research Theme Solid Earth, University of Bristol

Project Description

The Porphyry copper deposits that provide much of the earths global resources of Cu and Mo typically form in subduction or post subduction settings – where the geodynamic environment provides the right conditions for large ore forming hydrothermal systems associated with magmatism. Several outstanding research issues related to these systems will be addressed in this project. When and why did porphyry deposits first develop? Going further back in the geological record porphyry copper deposits become rarer, potentially due to higher geothermal gradients and lower seawater sulfate contents. However, the oldest known systems appear to have occurred in the Archean before plate tectonics as we know it was widespread. The second research issue relates to our ability to accurately interrogate absolute magmatic-hydrothermal timescales forming our major resources of Cu and Mo ore. This stems from systematic bias between the different dating systems used to date the mineral assemblages associated with each of these systems and thus integrate the magmatic and hydrothermal records.

The aim of this project is to constrain the life and times of the world's oldest and often most enigmatic magmatic-hydrothermal ore forming systems, commonly described as Porphyry Copper Deposits. By better understanding the geological relationships and anatomy of these magmatic hydrothermal systems, and linking this with high precision geochronology we can begin to answer why and most importantly when they formed. In doing so the project will build geologically constrained pairings of high-precision U-Pb and Re-Os dates that can be used to inter-calibrate the systems and improve the accuracy of these chronometers for the geochronology of our youngest Poprhyry Copper deposits, and other rock types.

To achieve this, fieldwork will be required to carefully describe a detailed framework of geological relationships (cross cutting relationships) and igneous (zircon) and hydrothermal (molybdenite) sample pairings of in the world’s oldest magmatic-hydrothermal events that span 3.3 Ga (Australia)-2.7 Ga (Finland). Using a combination of petrography, mineral imaging, in-situ geochemistry and isotopic techniques, and high precision geochronology, the project will unlock the "petrochronological record" of (U-Pb) zircon and (Re-Os) molybdenite pairings to reduce the uncertainty in how these two chronometers inter-relate.

The ideal candidate should be interested in the evolution of the Earth system, magmatic and hydrothermal systems in particular. The project will require laboratory analyses as well as a field and petrological analyses, so the student should have an aptitude for practical, analytical and theoretical thinking. Anticipated field work opportunities will include research in Australia and Finland.

References

Johnson, T E, Brown, M, Gardiner, N J, Kirkland, C L and Smithies, R H. 2017. Earth's first stable continents did not form by subduction. Nature, 543(7644), pp.239-242.

Richards, J P and Mumin, A H. 2013. Magmatic-hydrothermal processes within an evolving Earth: Iron oxide-copper-gold and porphyry Cu±Mo±Au deposits. Geology, 41(7), pp.767-770.

Selby, D, Creaser, R A, Stein, H J, Markey, R J and Hannah, J L. 2007. Assessment of the 187 Re decay constant by cross calibration of Re–Os molybdenite and U–Pb zircon chronometers in magmatic ore systems. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71(8), pp.1999-2013.

Selby, D and Creaser, R A. 2004. Macroscale NTIMS and microscale LA-MC-ICP-MS Re-Os isotopic analysis of molybdenite: Testing spatial restrictions for reliable Re-Os age determinations, and implications for the decoupling of Re and Os within molybdenite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 68(19), pp.3897-3908.

Links

University of Bristol

NERC GW4+ DTP Website

How to apply: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/

Application process:

To apply for this BGS-hosted PhD, send the following to bufi@bgs.ac.uk:
-Covering letter
-CV (with two academic references)
-a personal statement written by you, the candidate; no longer than 1 page of A4, containing the PhD project title and detailing your reasons for applying to study a PhD and why you have selected the chosen doctoral research project You will also need to complete the online application form at the University of Bristol

Application deadline: 2359 GMT, Sunday 7 January 2018

Interviews will take place at the BGS Headquarters in Keyworth, Nottingham on Wednesday 14 February 2018.

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:
  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.
Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Further details: Please contact Simon Tapster

CASE

Please note all projects advertised as CASE are 'potential' CASE until final approval.

Centre for Environmental Geochemistry
From rivers to reservoirs: the impacts of dam construction on sediment and nutrient delivery in the tropical Red River, Vietnam

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: Virginia Panizzo and Suzanne McGowan

DTP: ENVISION, Nottingham

DTP project details: http://www.envision-dtp.org/2017/from-rivers-to-reservoirs-reconstructing-downstream-sediment-transport-to-the-red-river-delta-vietnam/

Project description

The Red River in Vietnam supports 20 million inhabitants, includes a major rice-growing region, the mega-city of Hanoi and a range of industries each of which have expanded in recent decades. The Red River Delta (RRD) delta area of the river is the agricultural heartland of the region and provides crucial ecosystem services, including the retention and removal of nutrients and pollutants for groundwater (drinking water) and marine resource protection, carbon processing and flood protection. The Hoa Binh and Thac Ba reservoirs are major impoundments upstream of the RRD, estimated to be responsible for trapping substantial amounts of sediment, with major consequences for the delta and downstream coastal zone. Mean discharge has reduced in tandem with reduced suspended sediment (SS) transport, which together with sea level rise has contributed to an increased risk of saline water intrusion in the RRD. This PhD project aims to reconstruct, how dam installation has altered macro-nutrient (phosphate[P], nitrate[N] and silicate[Si]) and SS load delivery to the RRD, as a means to better inform reservoir management under increased downstream water resource demand and climate change threats in the region. Via the collection and dating of Hoa Binh and Thac Ba reservoir sediment cores (210Pb, 137Cs), this project will quantify changes in sediment accumulation rate since dam construction. Particle size analyses, sediment elemental analyses (ICP-MS), algal pigment biomarkers, diatom flora, biogenic silica quantification (alkaline digestion) and stable isotope approaches (δ13C, δ15N and C/N) will also be applied to reconstruct alterations in nutrient biogeochemical cycling and N:P:Si stoichiometry. Together, these approaches will permit the reconstruction of sediment and nutrient retention in the reservoirs (since installation) and estimate downstream delivery impacts to the RRD over time. This project provides the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in Vietnam and via co-supervision at BGS, to learn key analytical principles here.

All applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level in a subject area including Geography (BSc), Environmental Science, Natural Science or Geosciences. A basic understanding of limnology and the field and laboratory methods suited to this study are expected (e.g. water chemistry). Applicants should have experience in the theory or application of stable isotope techniques and/or palaeolimnological methods (e.g. sediment dating, core lithology, diatom flora). Some knowledge in statistical analysis and interpretation of data, along with knowledge of multivariate practices is also welcomed.

How to apply: http://www.envision-dtp.org/projects/information/

Application deadline: Sunday 14 January 2018

Further details: For further enquiries please contact Dr Virginia Panizzo at the School of Geography, University of Nottingham.

Reconstruction of glacial-interglacial monsoon hydroclimate variability

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisors: Pallavi Anand, Frances Jenner and Phil Sexton

DTP: CENTA, The Open University

DTP project details: http://www.centa.org.uk/themes/dynamic-earth/ou1/ Mel Leng, Open University

Project description

The northern Indian Ocean constitutes the region with the strongest hydrological cycle on Earth. This involves large inter-hemispheric exchanges of mass and energy between the ocean, atmosphere and continents that has direct impact on ~2 billion people. The resultant strong seasonal monsoon winds deliver rainfall and surface runoff in to the Bay of Bengal (BoB), causing marked seasonal variability of surface salinity.

The overall aim of the proposed project is to reconstruct seasonal changes in Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) precipitation during the glacial interglacial cycles of the late Pleistocene (e.g. Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5, 9 or 11) and Pliocene. The oroject will quantify the relative sensitivity of ISM to external (e.g., insolation) and internal climate forcing factors (e.g. global ice volume, northern or southern hemisphere climate and greenhouse gas concentrations). Specific objectives are to:

  • Reconstruct sea surface temperature and salinity gradients from north to south in the BoB using coupled oxygen isotope, δ18O and trace element composition of planktonic foraminifera
  • Assess seasonal variability in sea surface salinity using δ18O and trace element composition of single planktonic foraminifera shells during peak glacial and interglacial intervals
  • Quantify the relative sensitivity of ISM precipitation to external and interhemispheric climate forcing factors.

This project will focus on one of the core regions of Monsoon precipitation. The student will have priority access to age calibrated samples from International Ocean Discovery Programme (IODP) expedition 353 (from sites U1446 in the Mahanadi Basin and U1448 in the Andaman Sea) in the BoB. Additional legacy ODP samples from the Arabian Sea may also be included, if required, to address outlined objectives.

How to apply: http://www.centa.org.uk/apply/

Application deadline: 22 January 2018

Further details: Pallavi Anand

Storage and release of legacy atmospheric pollutants from glaciers

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Smith

University Supervisor: Dr Ann Rowan and Dr D Rippon

DTP: ACCE, Sheffield

DTP project details: https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=90344&LID=1393

Project description

Persistent organic pollutants including black carbon, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and sulphates are released into the atmosphere through the burning of biomass and fossil fuels. Atmospheric circulation transports these pollutants into pristine environments where they become incorporated into snow and glacier ice. Then, as glaciers melt, contaminants are released downstream into water supplies. Although previous studies have investigated the storage and release of pollutants in snowpacks, almost nothing is known about their lifecycles within the ice, despite their potential to affect glacier mass balance. This is important to resolve, because glacier decay is likely to significantly alter the quantity and seasonality of water available in proglacial rivers, and the release of legacy contaminants has the potential to also degrade water quality.

The time taken for atmospheric pollutants incorporated into glacier ice to be released depends on how ice flows through an individual glacier and how much melting occurs each year. The flow of ice through cold-based Arctic glaciers takes thousands of years, whereas ice flow through temperate lower-latitude glaciers is often orders of magnitude faster, such that the oldest parts of temperate glaciers are only a few hundred years old and so likely to contain contaminants that are contemporary to the Industrial Revolution.

This project will quantify a potentially major unknown global reservoir of organic contaminants in temperate and cold-based glaciers and investigate the impacts of climate change on the quantity and quality of water supplies from glacier-fed catchments. The specific objectives are to: (1) quantify the volume of contaminants contained within two typical glaciers in the Himalaya (temperate) and Arctic Svalbard (cold-based) and simulate their transport and storage; (2) measure the age of the pollutant-bearing ice to explore rates of ice flow and establish the lifecycle of glacial contaminants; (3) investigate the release of contaminants downstream and impacts on water quality.

The post would suit a motivated student interested in the impacts of anthropogenic pollution and climate change on the cryosphere, with a particular interest in developing an understanding of glacier dynamics using numerical modelling. The student will ideally have enthusiasm for a mix of field, lab and computer-based work and be willing to spend two field seasons working in the high Himalaya and Arctic Norway alongside ongoing research by the supervisors’ research teams.

How to apply: https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=90344&LID=1393

Application deadline: 9 January 2018

Further details: Dr Ann Rowan

Understanding environmental impact through ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry and organic geochemistry

BGS Supervisor: Chris Vane

University Supervisor: Dr Mark Barrow

DTP: CENTA, University of Warwick

DTP project details: http://www.centa.org.uk/themes/anthropogenic/w4/ Chris Vane, Warwick

Project description

Anthropogenic impact upon the environment is of increasing concern. There is a strong need for improved methodologies for environmental monitoring, particularly with respect to understanding the chemistry of highly complex samples. Ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry, particularly Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) mass spectrometry (MS), has been playing a leading role in the modern characterization of petroleum and environmental samples, leading to complex data sets which subsequently serve as "profiles" or "fingerprints" of the organic components. Two examples of applications include characterization of water associated with the environment and the oil sands industry in Alberta (Canada), and the recent study of soil cores from Staten Island (New York, USA), where analysis of soil from varying depths provides a chemical history of oil contamination in the region. This PhD will explore for the first time the utility of FTICR-MS to enhance our understanding of: 1) unconventional hydrocarbon resources in Carboniferous mudstones of the UK; 2) Organic Pollution in soils from the UKGEOS Clyde and Thornton sites and; 3) Estuarine and river sediment samples from the Tidal reaches of the Thames (London) and the Red River (Hanoi) Vietnam.

How to apply: http://www.centa.org.uk/apply/

Application deadline: 22 January 2018

Further details: Please contact either Dr Mark P Barrow Dr Ann Rowanor Christopher H Vane chv@bgs.ac.uk

What lies beneath: Resolving fundamental controls on the stable oxygen isotope composition of phosphate in soils

BGS Supervisor: Andrew Smith

University Supervisor: Dr Martin Blackwell and Dr Ben Surridge

DTP: ENVISION, Lancaster

DTP project details: http://www.envision-dtp.org/2017/what-lies-beneath-resolving-fundamental-controls-on-the-stable-oxygen-isotope-composition-of-phosphate-in-soils/

Project description

Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for food production but rock phosphate reserves are non-renewable and set to become increasingly scarce, making phosphorus critical for global food security. Therefore, it is vital that we better understand how P is cycled in soils in order to support future food production. This project will develop a highly novel stable isotope technique and use the technique to provide new insights into the P cycle within soils. The project offers the opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s leading experts in this new isotope approach in order to advance our knowledge of the P cycle. Specifically, you will examine how the uptake of P by bacteria and fungi, how the release of P from mineral phases and how the mineralisation of organic P control the stable isotope composition of P within soil environments. The training opportunity: This project offers you the opportunity to work across three leading institutions in the UK (Rothamsted Research; Lancaster University and the BGS) in order to become an expert in the stable isotope biogeochemistry of phosphorus in soil environments. You will learn how to design and implement controlled laboratory experiments, including gaining hands-on experience of culturing techniques for bacteria and fungi alongside stable isotope labelling approaches. You will also gain direct experience of operating a range of cutting-edge analytical instruments, including being trained in the operation of mass spectrometers at the NERC Stable Isotope Facility at BGS Keyworth.

Applicants should hold a Masters degree and/or a Bachelors degree (at 2.i level or equivalent) in subjects such as Environmental Science, Natural Science, Chemistry or Physical Geography. Applicants will ideally have some experience of analytical work in a laboratory.

How to apply: http://www.envision-dtp.org/2017/what-lies-beneath-resolving-fundamental-controls-on-the-stable-oxygen-isotope-composition-of-phosphate-in-soils/

Application deadline: Sunday 14 January 2018

Further details: If you're interested in this project, you're encouraged to contact Dr Martin Blackwell (01837 883500) to discuss the research and training opportunities involved.

Earth hazards and observatories
Improved mapping of Earth's internal magnetic field from space

BGS Supervisor: William Brown

University Supervisors: Phil Livermore, Chris Davies

DTP: Leeds York Training in Environmental Science

DTP project details: http://www.nercdtp.leeds.ac.uk/projects/index.php?id=683

Project description

Observations of Earth's magnetic field, both from the ground and from space, provide information on processes inside the Earth's core all the way to the near-Earth environment in which spacecraft operate, and provides us with a means to navigate above and below Earth's surface. To create a map of the internally generated field, measurements of the magnetic field must be compiled into a geomagnetic field model, whose accuracy is crucial in making scientific inferences about the Earth's interior. These models describe the shape and strength of the geomagnetic field, and its variations in space and time. Data for these models currently come from ground observatories and the ongoing European Space Agency (ESA) Swarm satellite mission.

Field models can generally be categorised into those that are focussed on modelling a single field source such as the outer core or the crustal rocks, or those which model a "comprehensive" range of field sources which are solved for simultaneously. A challenge in geomagnetic modelling is to separate the various sources of the field. Field generated in the core, lithosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere and oceans, manifest and vary on overlapping time and space scales. The greatest challenges are at high latitudes, where the Sun strongly influences magnetic activity. Ionospheric currents known as the auroral electrojets generate a time-varying field that is often unsatisfactorily resolved in models, and masks other field sources from being well resolved.

Recent advances in computational power and highly parallelised algorithms have allowed us to move from isolating single sources from carefully selected magnetic field data to treating more data with the aim of identifying multiple sources simultaneously. Current procedures can reject 99% of satellite and ground data, and are often most drastic in the auroral and polar regions, which contributes to poor model performance in these areas.

This project is focussed on improving the modelling capability at high latitude, which will result in a step change in our ability to fit globally the available data. A key tool for the project is the availability of a sophisticated, scalable, geomagnetic field modelling code suitable for high performance computing, developed through the Model of Earth Magnetic Environment (MEME) project, in conjunction with Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC). Using high-performance computing will allow rapid creation of field models, for the first time making it feasible to test and evaluate different methods of modelling high-latitude magnetic fields.

This PhD project will focus on the following:

  • Porting the EPCC code to the Leeds High-Performance Computing (ARC) facility and investigating the use of wider selections of ground observatory and satellite data to improve the core and crustal field models
  • Developing improved representations of magnetic fields at high latitudes, along with other sources of magnetic field.
  • Investigating data selection procedures that can enhance such models, with a view to utilising more of the available data, particularly at high latitudes and magnetically disturbed times.
  • The aim is to expand upon the complexity of the modelled field, include more field sources, and investigate ways in which data can be utilised more effectively to characterise the Earth’s field.

Objectives

  • To assess the existing and desirable capabilities of geomagnetic field models and ascertain which field sources to model, then suitably adapting the BGS MEME modelling code
  • To investigate the use of recent developments in geomagnetic activity measures and specific models of high-latitude external field sources from the ESA Swarm mission
  • To develop new criteria to select satellite and ground data to more effectively model the internal field behaviour.
  • To use these new models of the internal geomagnetic field to investigate rapid dynamics within the Earth’s liquid core, such as waves and jets.

Milestones

Year 1: Familiarisation with geomagnetic field modelling and the BGS MEME code, and expansion of the geomagnetic sources modelled. Porting of code to ARC (or another HPC)

Year 2: Improved modelling at high latitude and data selection criteria, taking advantage of latest developments from ESA Swarm mission, including field gradient information

Year 3: Production of an enhanced geomagnetic field model, focussing on high latitude regions and more accurate separation of field sources. Using the new geomagnetic field model, investigate proposed phenomena of waves and jets within the Earth's core.

Potential for high impact outcome

Field models are heavily used in a wide range of academic and applied studies, and the number of research groups actively maintaining them is small. Improved modelling of high-latitude regions would produce a step change in the research area and would have an international impact.

Training

The student will learn both the theory and computational techniques required to model the geomagnetic field, and will have access to a broad spectrum of training workshops put on by the Faculty that include an extensive range of workshops in numerical modelling, high-performance computing, through to managing your degree, to preparing for your viva (http://www.emeskillstraining.leeds.ac.uk/).

The student will be a part of the deep Earth research group, a vibrant part of the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, comprising staff members, postdocs and PhD students. The deep Earth group has a strong portfolio of international collaborators which the student will benefit from.

Although the project will be based at Leeds, there will be opportunities to attend international conferences (UK, Europe, US and elsewhere), and collaborative visits within Europe. The project will involve multiple visits to BGS in Edinburgh.

Requirements

We seek a highly motivated candidate with a strong background in mathematics, physics, computation, geophysics or another highly numerate discipline.

References

Olsen, N, and Stolle, C. (2012). Satellite Geomagnetism, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 2012. 40:441–65. DOI 10.1146/annurev-earth-042711-105540

Hamilton, B, Ridley, V A, Beggan, C D, and Macmillan, S. (2015). The BGS magnetic field candidate models for the 12th generation IGRF. Earth, Planets and Space, 67(1), 69.

Kauristie, K, Morschhauser, A, Olsen, N, Finlay, C C, McPherron, R L, Gjerloev, J W, and Opgenoorth, H J. (2017). On the usage of geomagnetic indices for data selection in internal field modelling. Space Science Reviews, 206(1–4), 61–90.

Sabaka, T J, Olsen, N, Tyler, R H, and Kuvshinov, A. (2015). CM5, a pre–Swarm comprehensive geomagnetic field model derived from over 12 yr of CHAMP, ørsted, SAC-C and observatory data. Geophysical Journal International, 200(3), 1596–1626.

Aakjaer, C D, Olsen, N, and Finlay, C C. (2016). Determining polar ionospheric electrojet currents from Swarm satellite constellation magnetic data, Earth Planets Space, 68, 140, doi:10.1186/s40623-016-0509-y.

How to apply: http://www.nercdtp.leeds.ac.uk/how-to-apply/

Application deadline: Monday 8th January 2018

Further details: For further information please contact Dr Phil Livermore p.w.livermore@leeds.ac.uk

Geochronology and Tracers Facility
Constraining the petrogenesis and timing of the late magmatic events in the British Palaeogene Igneous Province

BGS Supervisor: Ian Millar

University Supervisors: Dr Andrew Kerr (Cardiff), Dr Iain McDonnald (Cardiff) and Dr Hannah Hughes (Exeter)

DTP: GW4+, Cardiff

DTP project details: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/project/constraining-the-petrogenesis-and-timing-of-the-late-magmatic-events-in-the-british-palaeogene-igneous-province

Project description

Modern geochemical techniques have greatly increased our understanding of the timing of the magmatism and nature of the mantle source region(s) during the earliest magmatic expressions of the Iceland plume, ca. 60 Ma, in the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP).

Studies of the British part of the province (British Palaeogene Igneous Province - BPIP), consisting of a series of igneous centres along the west coast of Scotland and in Northern Ireland, have been instrumental in the formulation of these ideas. This project builds on substantial body of work, which has focused on the early stages of mantle plume volcanism as preserved in the lavas on Skye and Mull. (eg, Kerr et al., 1999).

These studies have revealed that the magmatism in the province gradually changed from transitional tholeiitic-alkalic magma types to a tholeiitic magma type, which was much more depleted in incompatible trace elements than the earlier type (Kent & Fitton, 2000).

Erosion has significantly reduced the thickness of the BPIP lava successions. Thus, although the geochemical nature of the early stages of magmatism are well preserved in the lavas, the youngest lavas have long-since been eroded away. The mid-to-late phases of activity in most of the igneous centres in the BPIP are preserved as a series of granitic to ultrabasic intrusions. The youngest major intrusion within these centres is commonly granitic in composition.

However, intruding these youngest granites in Skye, Ardnamurchan, Mull, Arran and the Mourne Mountains are a suite of basic dykes, representing a later phase of magmatism in the province. Preliminary geochemical data from these dykes show that some are more-enriched in incompatible trace elements than the youngest preserved lavas.

Previous studies have also found a temporal shift in the precious metal composition of NAIP lavas (Hughes et al., 2015), and directly related this to PGE enrichment recorded in mantle xenoliths from the underlying subcontinental lithospheric mantle and pre-dating the NAIP. All these features indicate a complex and evolving mantle geochemical system tapped by the Icelandic plume with variable lithospheric contamination. This project therefore aims to investigate the exact age, compositional variability and petrogenesis of these dykes.

This project would suit a candidate who is interested in working on a classic igneous area in which many of the modern concepts of igneous petrology were formulated. You should have an interest in fieldwork, igneous petrography, geochemistry and petrogenesis, geochronology and the modelling of magma chamber processes and mantle melting.

How to apply: https://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/research-themes/prospective-students/

Application deadline: Midnight GMT Sunday 7 January 2018

Further details: For further information please email Dr Andrew Kerr +44 (0)29 2087 4578 or Dr Iain McDonald +44 (0)29 2087 4295 Contact number: 01326 253614.

Groundwater
Enhancing the soil carbon sink: towards defining and quantifying new stabilising mechanisms

BGS Supervisor: Simon Kemp

University Supervisor: Prof David Beerling and Dr B Sarkar

DTP: ACCE, Sheffield

Project details: https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=90316

Project description

Limiting future climate change requires urgently decreasing CO2 emissions and developing approaches for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere. Enhanced weathering (EW) is a CDR option achieved by amending the soils of managed croplands with crushed fast-reacting silicate rocks. Both IPCC and the US National Research Council have called for research into EW as a CDR strategy but have overlooked stabilisation of soil organic C as a pathway to C capture. The current exciting project addresses this important gap in our understanding of how to enhance the soil C pool to offset fossil fuel CO2 emissions. In a series of experiments, it will investigate the dissolution and concomitant retention/release of organic C in rock-amended soils grown with a representative crop, e.g., wheat. Rates of C-capture, turnover time and mechanisms involving silicate minerals will be studied using advanced techniques, including synchrotron spectroscopy, and projected in global change scenarios.

The post would suit a motivated student interested in ‘climate-smart soil’ research, with enthusiasm for a mix of laboratory and computer-based work, and will be based in the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (www.lc3m.org). They will gain excellent training in a range of cutting-edge transferable skills in soil science, including advanced spectroscopic and C-isotopic techniques.

How to apply: https://acce.shef.ac.uk/phd-opportunities/sheffield/ or https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=90316

Application deadline: Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Further details: For further information please email Prof David Beerling

Fingerprinting groundwater-derived nutrient inputs to rivers using nutrient stable isotopes

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisors: Dr Ben Surridge, Prof Stefan Krause (Birmingham University)

DTP: ENVISION, Nottingham

Project description

Changes in the availability of nitrogen and carbon within rivers, for example associated with anthropogenic inputs from sources such as fertilisers or wastewater, have profound effects on these ecosystems across the globe. Accurate identification of the sources and impacts of nitrogen and carbon reaching riverine ecosystems provides the basis for developing future policy and practice to improve the status of these important ecosystems. The epilithic community, including algae and bacteria, attached to the bed of streams and rivers is a potentially sensitive indicator of conditions within these ecosystems. This PhD will determine how analysis of the stable nitrogen and carbon isotope composition of the epilithic community can provide new insights into the sources and the impacts of nutrients within rivers and streams. In particular, this project will test the hypothesis that stable isotope analysis of the epilithon enables the relative importance of groundwater and surface water sources of nutrients to be identified within streams and rivers. The training opportunity: This project will provide you with the opportunity to become an expert in the stable isotope geochemistry of streams and rivers. You will be trained in the design and installation of field sampling equipment in order to characterise groundwater and surface water ecosystems. You will gain experience of sampling techniques for water quality and stable isotope analyses in both water and epilithic samples. The PhD will also provide you with training in a suite of cutting-edge laboratory techniques related to stable isotope geochemistry, including hands-on experience of operating isotope ratio mass spectrometers. Your supervisors include academics from two highly-ranked, research intensive universities in Lancaster and Birmingham. In addition, the BGS will be your CASE partner, providing additional funding to the project and the opportunity to work within the largest hydrogeological research organization in the country.

Applicants should hold a Masters degree and/or a Bachelors degree (at 2.i level or equivalent) in subjects such as Environmental Science, Natural Science, Chemistry or Physical Geography. Applicants will ideally have some experience of analytical work in a laboratory and should have an interest in undertaking both field and laboratory based research.

How to apply: http://www.envision-dtp.org/projects/information/

Application deadline: Sunday 14 January 2018

Further details: If you' re interested in this project, you're encouraged to contact Dr Ben Surridge (01524 594516) to discuss the research and training opportunities involved. For an example of the type of research that will be undertaken in this project, see: Pastor et al. (2013) Nitrogen stable isotopes in primary uptake compartments across streams differing in nutrient availability. Environmental Science and Technology. 47; 10155-10162.

Groundwater and the drinking water exposome in the United Kingdom

BGS Supervisor: Daren Gooddy

University Supervisors: Prof David Polya and Prof Roy Wogelius

DTP: Manchester and Liverpool, Manchester

Project description

Introduction: groundwater contributes over 6300 Ml/day to the overall public water supply in the UK, corresponding to around 30 per cent of supply (BGS, 2015). The trace and major element compositions of groundwaters across the UK vary considerably, largely according to the nature of the host aquifers, whilst the reliance of public water supplies on groundwater also varies considerably. For example, there is considerably greater reliance on groundwater in England, particularly in the Midlands and the South-East, than there is Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (BGS, 2015). Accordingly the magnitude of human exposure to trace and major elements through drinking water from public water supplies is highly spatially variable across the UK and this may have important consequences for public health in terms of exposure to both toxic and essential elements (cf. Middleton et al., 2016 for private water supplies in south-west England).

Project summary: in this project, the spatial distribution across the UK of trace and major chemical components in publicly supplied water will be mapped using a combination of grey literature review, data mining, geostatistical and GIS techniques (cf. Bretzler et al., 2017; Sovann and Polya, 2014). Combined with pre-existing data on age and gender-dependent drinking-water consumption rates, a map of trace and major chemical exposures across the UK will be generated. These data and maps will be used to address the questions:

  • What are the public health implications for the distribution of chemical compositions of publicly supplied water? Does this contribute in a significant way to the 'postcode lottery' of health care?
  • Is there a significant association between exposure to arsenic through public water supplies and detrimental health outcomes?
  • How closely do public water supplies derived from groundwater reflect groundwater compositions (e.g. in BGS Groundwater Database, cf. Smedley et al., 2014)?
  • Public water supplies represent a strongly anthropogenically modified composition from source waters, in particular through mixing of disparate sources, water treatment to add or remove specific chemical components and interactions with pipe and other materials in the water supply system. Can these processes be readily quantified using standard geochemical techniques and, if so, does this provide an insight into the use of such techniques for natural groundwater systems, the compositions of which may reflect multiple sources and processes?
  • How readily may the techniques developed be used in relevant ODA/DAC countries?
  • Can temporal changes in publicly supplied waters be used, after appropriate corrections for treatment, to infer climate change or usage related changes to the status of UK aquifers?

The research student working on this cross-disciplinary project will gain a wide breadth of training in geochemistry, geochemical modelling (PHREEQC/GWB), hydrogeology, data mining and management and geostatistics. Additionally, they will have the benefit of access to world-class facilities in the Williamson Research Centre for Molecular Environmental Science at the University of Manchester and be involved in a strongly cross-disciplinary project with a (potential) BGS CASE partner at the centre of groundwater mapping and provision of information for resource management in the UK. The project and training will provide a basis for a future career in environmental science, in the industrial, government or academic sectors, in a rapidly expanding research area of international importance.

References:

Bretzler, A, Berg, M, Winkel, L, Amini, M, Rodriguez-Lado, L, Sovann, C, Polya, D A, and Johnson, A.  2017.  Geostatistical modelling of arsenic hazard in groundwaters. In Bhattacharya, P, Polya, D A, and Jovanovic, D. (Eds.) Best Practice Guide for the Control of Arsenic in Drinking Water, IWA Publishing, Chapter A3, ISBN13: 9781843393856.

BGS.  2015.  Current UK groundwater use http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/groundwater/waterResources/GroundwaterInUK/2015.html

Gooddy, D C, Ascott, M J, Lapworth, D J, Ward, R S, Jarvie, H P, Bowes, M J, Tipping, E, Dils, R, and Surridge, B W J.  2017.  Main water leakage: implications for phosphorus source apportionment and policy responses in catchments.  Science of the Total Environment, 579, 702–708.

Middleton, D R S, Watts, M J, Hamilton, E M, Ander, E L, Close, R M, Exley, K S, Crabbe, H, Leonardi, G S, Fletcher, T, and Polya, D A.  2016.  Urinary arsenic profiles reveal exposures to inorganic arsenic from private drinking water supplies in Cornwall, UK.  Scientific Reports, 6, Article 25656; DOI: 10.1038/srep25656

Polya, D A, and Middleton, D R S.  2017.  Arsenic in drinking water: sources and human exposure routes. In Bhattacharya, P, Polya, D A, and Jovanovic, D. (Eds.) Best Practice Guide for the Control of Arsenic in Drinking Water, IWA Publishing, Chapter 1, ISBN13: 9781843393856

Smedley, P L, Cooper, D M, and Lapworth, D J.  2014.  Molybdenum distributions and variability in drinking water from England and Wales.  Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, 186 (10), 6403–6416

Sovann, C, and Polya, D A.  2014.  Improved groundwater geogenic arsenic hazard map for Cambodia.  Environmental Chemistry, 11(5): 595–607. DOI:10.1071/en14006

How to apply: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/studentships-earth-atmosphere-ocean/

Application deadline: 19 January 2018

Further details: For further information please contact Prof David Polya (david.polya@manchester.ac.uk)

Inter-aggregate distribution of metal-potentially harmful elements (PHEs) and its effect on their mobility in soils

BGS Supervisor: Joanna Wragg

University Supervisors: Claire Wilson and David Copplestone (Stirling) and Karen Johnson (Durham)

DTP: IAPETUS, Stirling

DTP project details: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/iap-17-143-inter-aggregate-distribution-of-metal-potentially-harmful-elements-phes-and-its-effect-on-their-mobility-in-soils/

Project description

There are an estimated 2.5 million potentially contaminated land sites in the EEA-391 that are a legacy of past land use, particularly industrial or waste disposal activities. In recognition of the potential for negative effects on human health, soil contamination is identified as a priority under the European Union (EU) Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection.

Understanding the dynamics of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) within soils is important if we are to accurately assess the risk PHEs pose to human health and the environment. There has been significant research, for example, into the role of soil biology on bioavailability and into the way in which PHEs are adsorbed to soil surfaces. It has also long been known that the mobility of heavy metals in structurally undisturbed soils is very different to that in homogenised soils where the structural aggregates have been destroyed and more recently it has been recognised that the distribution of PHEs between aggregate size fractions influences the release characteristics of heavy metals from soil7. However, virtually nothing is known about the micro-scale distribution of PHEs within soil aggregates and micro-aggregates, and what this may mean for their mobility within the soil and ultimately their bioavailability. The formation of soil aggregates is controlled by a range of biotic and abiotic factors in a cycle of physical turnover as aggregates from, develop and degrade.

Well-structured soils are characterised by micro-spatial heterogeneity in biological, physical and chemical conditions that could affect the nature of surface sorption sites and the adsorption and retention of PHEs from solution. For example, redox conditions vary spatially within aggregates as a result of intra-aggregate patterns of porosity, SOM and microbial distributions, influencing oxidation states and Fe (hydr)oxide forms that may influence the adsorption of PHEs and hence their mobility.

The aims of this project are 1) to map the intra-aggregate distribution of metal PHEs within soil in order to better understand the physical dynamics of PHEs in the soil environment and 2) to determine the effects of intra-aggregate PHE distribution on their mobility in the soil as it affects bioavailability.

Sampling sites with contrasting structural properties will be selected to represent a range of contamination scenarios.

Soils will be analysed to characterise their structural, as well as chemical and biological, properties. The distribution of PHEs such as Pb and Cu within soil aggregates and in relation to soil pores, Fe hydr(oxides) and soil organic matter will be established using micromorphology, SEM-EDS and image analysis of polished soil thin sections and freeze-fractured soil aggregates. Chemical extractions and before and after micro-analysis of soil thin sections will look for differential contributions linked to intra-aggregate distribution. We will also apply to UK Diamond Light Source for access to XANES and EXAFS to determine the form of metal-PHEs and sorption processes linked to intra-aggregate distribution.

Wet chemical extractions of aggregates and aggregate fractions derived from aggregate sieving and soil peeling will establish the influence of soil aggregation on PHE mobility. Mössbauer spectroscopy will determine the relationships between PHEs and Fe (hydr)oxides in soil aggregates.

How to apply: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/aboutstudentships/

Application deadline: 19 January 2018 (5 pm GMT)

Further details: For further information please contact Dr Clare Wilson c.a.wilson@stir.ac.uk or Prof David Copplestone david.copplestone@stir.ac.uk

Quantifying the importance of different sources of diffuse pollution in mining-impacted rivers

BGS Supervisor: Barbara Paulumbo-Roe

University Supervisors: Dr Adam Jarvis and Dr Anke Neumann

DTP: IAPETUS, Newcastle

DTP project details: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/iap-17-145-quantifying-the-importance-of-different-sources-of-diffuse-pollution-in-mining-impacted-rivers/

Project description

Point-source discharges from abandoned base metal mines are by far the single biggest source of toxic metals such as zinc and cadmium to the aquatic environment of England and Wales1. However, the freshwater burden of metals from abandoned mine sites is actually further increased, and substantially so, by diffuse sources of pollution. These diffuse pollution sources are more sporadic in nature, typically becoming more important during higher flow conditions (Figure 1), and are much more difficult to quantify. Groundwater inputs of metals, surface runoff from mine waste, and release of metals held in transient storage on stream bed sediments, have all been cited as possible sources of diffuse pollution2, 3. However, quantitatively discriminating between these diffuse sources has not been thoroughly explored. Setting aside other possible constraints (e.g. economic, logistical, environmental), point sources of mine water pollution are, technically, treatable using existing engineering interventions and technologies. The same cannot be said for diffuse sources of mining pollution, because it is not possible to unequivocally identify the exact locations and importance of individual diffuse sources. The limiting factor to future reductions to the metal burden of freshwaters impacted by mining pollution will therefore become these diffuse sources.

This project will therefore investigate the nature and quantitative importance of individual sources of diffuse pollution in abandoned mine catchments. In particular, research will be undertaken to differentiate between, and quantify, pollutant delivery from shallow groundwater flows and metal release from (and / or metal attenuation in) the hyporheic zone. Associated aims of the research will be to: (1) determine the extent to which variations in the water table, in response to rainfall events, results in flushing of metal pollutants; (2) characterise vertical hydrogeochemical profiles in the hyporheic zone, via multilevel sampling, to understand metal dynamics; (3) use tracer tests to determine surface-water–groundwater connectivity, and (4) monitor under varying environmental conditions to elucidate influences of changing hydrological conditions and seasonality on (1) – (3). The final of these objectives in particular will provide insights into the possible impact of hydrological extremes, resulting from climate change, on future trends in contaminant flux from upland river systems.

How to apply: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/aboutstudentships/

Application deadline: 19 January 2018 (5 pm GMT)

Further details: For further information please contact Adam Jarvis adam.jarvis@newcastle.ac.uk Tel: +44 (0)1912084871

Quantifying the role of superficial geology in controlling groundwater recharge in drylands and its sensitivity to environmental change

BGS Supervisor: Alan Macdonald

University Supervisor: Dr Mark Cuthbert and Dr Daniel Hobley

DTP: GW4+, Cardiff

Project details: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/project/quantifying-the-role-of-superficial-geology-in-controlling-groundwater-recharge-in-drylands-and-its-sensitivity-to-environmental-change

Project description

Drylands (semi-arid/arid regions) represent >35% of the Earth's surface, support a population of around 2 billion people, and are forecast to become increasingly water stressed in coming decades. Groundwater is the most reliable source of water in drylands but the spatio-temporal controls on rates of groundwater recharge that replenish this resource, and its sensitivity to environmental change, are poorly resolved.

In drylands, most recharge comes from water lost into the beds of ephemeral streams. Some of this loss reaches deeper groundwater systems, but some returns back to the land surface via evapotranspiration. Superficial geology is critical in controlling this partitioning as well as the feedbacks between groundwater and surface water hydrology.

However, little work has been carried out to date to understand these interactions in detail, and tools to forecast recharge in drylands with variable geology are lacking.

The project would suit a candidate with:

  • enthusiasm for fieldwork in remote locations and/or developing countries
  • knowledgeable in one or more fields: geomorphology, hydrogeology, hydrology, geophysics, remote sensing
  • interested to widen their knowledge base
  • ability to think laterally and synthesise disparate datasets to form new ideas
  • numerate, and skills in numerical modelling would be a great advantage.

How to apply: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/funding/view/nerc-gw4-doctoral-training-partnership-phd-projects-in-the-school-of-earth-and-ocean-sciences

Application deadline: 7 January 2018

Further details: For further information please email Dr Mark Cuthbert +44 (0)29 2087 4051 or Dr Daniel Hobley +44 (0)29 2087 6213

Scale-dependent lithological variations and their control on water resources and flooding in the Eden Valley

BGS supervisor: Andrew Hughes

University supervisor: Dr Adrian Butler

DTP: SSCP, Imperial College London

DTP project details: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jCuRnH2pWvrb_7DaoY-blra9ApEg2nHK/view

Project Description

The Eden Valley (Cumbria, UK) has been involved in two of the worst flooding events this century. It is also an important local water resource. The River Eden courses over a complex geological terrain. Rising on the volcanic rocks of the Lake District, it flows over the Carboniferous limestones of the north Pennines and on to the Permo-Triassic sandstones in the Vale of Eden, a largely rural area where agriculture and tourism are the main sources of income. Comprising the Penrith Sandstone Formation and the Sherwood Sandstone Group, the Permo-Triassic sandstones lie in a fault-bounded basin (approximately 50 km long and 5–15 km wide) and are the region's primary aquifers. Their structure, however, is highly complex due to the heterogeneous nature of the rocks, due to primary and secondary lithological variation. Consequently, an improved understanding of this complexity and its influence on water flow is needed to manage the aquifer's potential as a water resource, and understanding its role in flooding.

A key part of this is the role of low permeability features, which are highly scale dependent. These include the occurrence of thick silicified (depositions of silica) layers. Individual units are relatively small but can form discontinuous bands up to tens of metres thick that extend over several kilometres (Fox, 2016) and affect groundwater recharge and water-level dynamics (Lafare et al., 2016). Another important feature, the Armathwaite dyke, an igneous intrusion that crosses the entire Eden Valley, appears to act as a major barrier to groundwater flow on a variety of scales.

With increased awareness of this scale-dependent complexity, there is a need to incorporate this knowledge into a new hydrogeological conceptual model of the region that can be tested using groundwater flow models, which are able to reproduce groundwater levels and surface-water flow responses and provide new insights for the management of this geological system and its role in the wider Eden Valley. A key aim of the research will be to demonstrate the importance of heterogeneity at a variety of scales in controlling flow in Permo-Triassic sandstones. Not only will this improve our understanding of the relationship between scale-dependent geological features and groundwater response, due to their widespread occurrence elsewhere in the UK and internationally, this work is also highly transferrable.

Application process:
To apply for this PhD, send the following to bufi@bgs.ac.uk and copy to the lead supervisor, Andrew Hughes, aghug@bgs.ac.uk:

  • covering letter
  • CV (with two academic references)
  • a personal statement written by you, the candidate; no longer than 1 page of A4, containing the PhD project title and detailing your reasons for applying to study a PhD and why you have selected the chosen doctoral research project

Data protection:
During the application process, the BGS may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.

Application deadline: 8 January 2018

Further details: For further information please contact Andrew Hughes, aghug@bgs.ac.uk

The fate of microplastics accumulating at groundwater-surface water interfaces

BGS Supervisors: Daren Gooddy, Dan Lapworth

University Supervisors: Prof Stefan Krause, Prof Iseult Lynch and Prof Greg Sambrook Smith

DTP: CENTA, Birmingham

DTP project details: http://www.centa.org.uk/themes/anthropogenic/b33/

Project description

Despite reasonable progress in understanding the transport and fate of microplastics in the worlds oceans, the sources, transport and fate of microplastics in freshwater environments are still critically under-researched.

In particular, the mechanisms controlling the transport and accumulation of different types of plastics are still unknown. This knowledge gap has critical consequences also for understanding how plasticisers such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) can be released from decaying microplastics in accumulation hotspots such as streambed sediments. BPA, as an endocrine disrupting substance is posing a severe thread to environmental and public health.

This project will pioneer investigations into the accummulation of microplastics at terrestrial–aquatic interfaces such as streambed environments.

It will investigate the mechanisms of potential BPA release during the physical and chemical breakdown of microplastics in freshwater environments and develop urgently needed understanding of the patterns and dynamics of microplastic accumulation and decay hotspots in freshwater systems.

How to apply: http://www.centa.org.uk/apply/

Application deadline: Monday 22 January 2018

Further details: Please contact a member of the supervisory team: Prof Stefan Krause, s.krause@bham.ac.uk, Prof Iseult Lynch, I.Lynch@bham.ac.uk, Dan Lapworth, djla@bgs.ac.uk, Daren Gooddy, dcg@bgs.ac.uk

Marine geoscience
Fracking magma: field and experimental investigation of hydrofracture in volcanic systems

BGS Supervisors: Rob Cuss and Emrys Phillips

University Supervisors: Hugh Tuffen and Fabian Wadsworth (Durham)

DTP: ENVISION, Lancaster

DTP project details: http://www.envision-dtp.org/2017/fracking-magma-field-and-experimental-investigation-of-hydrofracture-in-volcanic-systems/

Project description

Tuffisite veins are particle-filled hydraulic fractures formed around and within volcanic conduits, which are opened by and provide transient pathways for flow of pressurised magmatic fluids. Tuffisites become sealed by welding of pyroclasts, and their evolving permeability is thought to influence shallow conduit pressurisation and the behaviour of silicic eruptions. Poor constraints on the longevity of fluid flow within veins and the associated fluid pressures currently hampers modelling of eruption dynamics, and the influence of heterogeneous country rock on vein opening is unknown. Indeed, in general, hydraulic fracture in volcanic systems remains little understood. However, hydraulic fracturing is far better studied in other geological environments. Clastic dykes formed by injection of pressurised meltwater into subglacial sediments display remarkably similar sedimentary structures to tuffisites, and detailed study of microstructures reveals complex histories of pulsatory fluid flow. Meanwhile, experimental approaches are revealing how different lithologies influence hydraulic fracture propagation in hydrocarbon reservoirs. In this PhD you will work alongside experts in volcanology, glacial geology and experimental fracture mechanics at Lancaster University and BGS to reappraise hydraulic fracture in volcanic systems. You will apply a novel combination of the latest techniques from three different research fields to provide new constraints on hydraulic fracture propagation and evolution. The research will be underpinned by a substantial field component, with characterisation of fossil hydraulic fracture systems in Iceland and the UK, complimented by microstructural analysis and measurement of dissolved magmatic volatile concentrations. You will also complete an internship at the BGS Fracture Physics Lab, using natural and analogue samples to investigate the opening and sealing of hydraulic fracture networks. There is strong potential for wider collaboration with other European research groups. Full training in all techniques will be provided; there are additional excellent training and networking opportunities through Lancaster’s new Graduate School for the Environment.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant subject such as Geology, Geophysics, Physical Geography or Environmental Science, and have preferably either started or completed a relevant Masters-level degree. Experience in detailed geological fieldwork, textural analysis or experimentation is highly desirable but not essential. We are looking for highly-motivated, numerate individuals with a proven track record of independent research, but who have also been enriched by their interests outside of academic life.

How to apply: http://www.envision-dtp.org/projects/information/

Application deadline: Sunday 14 January 2018.

Further details: For further details please contact Nikki Flook.

Modelling fluid flow and sediment deposition within glacial hydrofracture systems: implications for waste water injection from hydrocarbon platforms

BGS Supervisor: Emrys Phillips

University Supervisors: Prof Jeff Peakall, Prof Dave Hodgson and Prof Quentin Fisher

DTP: SPERES, Leeds

DTP project details: http://www.nercdtp.leeds.ac.uk/projects/index.php?id=671

Project description

Overview

This project will be of interest to someone looking for a multidisciplinary project including fieldwork In Iceland, and experimental work, in the broad areas of sedimentology, structural geology, and potentially geomechanical modelling.

Scientific background

Hydrofracture systems (also referred to as water-escape features or clastic dykes) provide clear evidence for the passage of pressurised meltwater beneath both former and contemporary glaciers and ice sheets. They are typically found in subglacial to ice-marginal settings and range from relatively minor features just a few millimetres across, through to much larger structures (up to several metres wide) that can be traced laterally for several tens of metres (see van der Meer et al., 1999; van der Meer et al., 2008; Phillips and Merritt, 2008; Phillips et al., 2013; Phillips and Hughes, 2014). The marked fluctuations in hydrostatic pressures that occur during hydrofracturing lead to brittle deformation of the sediment and/or bedrock beneath the ice, accompanied by penecontemporaneous liquefaction and introduction of the sediment fill. Due to the pressurised nature of the meltwater, this sediment infill can be introduced from structurally above (downward injection) or below (upward injection) the developing hydrofracture system. The introduction of pressurised meltwater beneath glaciers and ice sheets has a profound effect on deformation beneath the ice not only leading to increased forward motion of these ice masses, but also facilitating movement along prominent décollement surfaces within the sediment pile (e.g. Phillips et al., 2002; Kjær et al., 2006; Benediktsson et al., 2008) and/or the detachment and transport of sediment and/or bedrock rafts (e.g. Phillips and Merritt, 2008; Burke et al., 2009; Vaughan-Hirsch et al., 2013).

Despite their importance, many of the processes underlying the formation of hydrofracture systems remain poorly understood. Previous research (e.g. van der Meer et al., 1999; van der Meer et al., 2008; Phillips et al., 2013; Phillips and Hughes, 2014) has revealed that hydrofractures from glacial environments range from simple features in which initial fracture propagation is immediately followed by the injection of the fluidised sediment fill (cut and fill), through to highly complex multiphase systems that are thought to be active over a prolonged period, accommodating several phases of fluid flow and sedimentation. Naturally occurring hydrofracture systems are also known to exploit pre-existing structures (e.g. bedding, faults) within the host rock/sediment, with these inherent weaknesses facilitating the fracking process and thereby fluid migration. However, there is still considerable debate regarding the mode of propagation of these fracture systems and the nature of fluid flow (turbulent vs. laminar) and sediment transport within these conduits.

Waste waters from hydrocarbon production on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) are frequently reinjected into shallow, glacially-derived sediments. Similarly, there are large quantities of toxic waste products that need to be disposed of as part of the decommissioning process on the UKCS, and again shallow injection of these is a likely scenario. However, the lack of knowledge on hydrofracturing processes in glacial sediments limits the ability to: i) predict and model the pathways these injected fluids may follow; ii) assess the nature and significance of any hydrofractures that may develop, and iii) examine the potential for seal failure and leakage. The proposed PhD research project aims to address this fundamental lack of understanding of glacial hydrofracturing processes and spatial relationships, and to apply this knowledge base to examine the implications for waste water injection on the UKCS.

Aims and objectives

The main aim of the proposed PhD project is to investigate the processes occurring during the formation and subsequent evolution of hydrofracture systems. The objectives include:

  • To understand the processes occurring during fluid flow and model sedimentation within hydrofracture systems. This will be achieved using an integrated work programme comprising detailed fieldwork, macro- and microscale analyses, and physical modelling experiments that aim to investigate sediment transport and dispersal within active hydrofracture systems, as well as the nature of fluid flow (turbulent vs. laminar) during the hydrofracturing process.
  • To investigate the potential of hydrofracture systems to act as pathways for the enhanced migration of fluids (sediment and water) within glacial environments. Granular-scale 2D and 3D volumetric representations of the sedimentary fills will be investigated. There is also potential, depending on the applicant's background, for applying numerical models to simulate intergranular fluid flow through sediment-filled hydrofractures systems, thereby assessing their ability to act as fluid pathways.
  • To examine the implications for shallow-water injection of hydrocarbon production-derived waste products into glacial sediments.

These objectives form the foundations of a fully integrated, multidisciplinary research project, which will investigate fluid and sediment flow through hydrofracture systems in glacial environments from a macro- to microscale and apply this knowledge to shallow water injection into glacial sediments.

Methods

The project will focus on sediment-filled hydrofracture systems exposed within former glaciated regions (Highlands of Scotland; Cumbria) and contemporary glacial environments (Iceland). Fieldwork will be conducted during the first year of the PhD project and will focus upon the macroscale description and analysis of the hydrofracture systems, as well as collection of undisturbed samples for subsequent laboratory analysis. The field data will be used to provide the spatial context of the more detailed microscale analysis as well as allowing the evolution of the hydrofracture system to be linked to the large-scale dynamics of the glacier. Small-scale sedimentary processes during fluid flow and the transport of sediment within hydrofracture systems will be investigated using macro- (sedimentological and structural analysis) and microscale 2D (thin section analysis, SEM) and 3D (micro-CT scanning) analysis. This will enable the construction of detailed 2D and 3D volumetric representations of the structural and sedimentary architecture of natural occurring hydrofracture systems which can be used to design flume tank and pipe-flow experiments to physically model the processes occurring during the transport and deposition of sediments within hydrofractures, thereby aiding our understanding of how material is introduced and dispersed within these systems. The results will advance our understanding of the evolution of hydrofracture systems and their sediment fills, providing important information regarding the changes in the style of sedimentation, sediment supply and fluid flow. Furthermore there is potential, depending on the candidate's background, to use these 3D volumetric representations of morphology of hydrofractures in numerical modelling experiments aimed at increasing our understanding of the nature of fluid flow (turbulent vs. laminar) during the 'fracking' process and the changes in flow regime caused by sedimentation.

PhD schedule, outputs and training

This PhD will commence 1 October 2018 and run for 3.5 years. During this period the student will be eligible for all the postgraduate training typically provided to students attending the University as part of the SPHERES Doctoral Training Programme. Through both the BGS and Leeds, the student will receive training in relevant software packages, field-based description and analysis of glacigenic sediments, 2D and 3D microscale analysis of glacigenic sediments, technical/scientific writing, etc. The student will be based in the Department of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds with regular visits to the BGS office in Edinburgh to work with their academic supervisors, as well as interact with other PhD students within. This will provide valuable practical experience of working in both a vibrant and active university department and in the dynamic and world-leading glacial group at the BGS. Major deliverables during the first year of the project include a six-month report, outlining literature, research questions and research plan. Outputs during the subsequent years will include progress reports and the preparation of manuscripts for submission to international scientific journals. The final output of the PhD programme will be a thesis. The student will also be expected to present the results of their research at relevant UK and international conferences.

References

Benediktsson, I O, Möller, P, Ingólfsson, O, van der Meer, J J M, Kjær, K H, and Krüger, J.  2008.  Instantaneous end moraine and sediment wedge formation during the 1890 glacier surge of Brúarjökull, Iceland.  Quaternary Science Reviews 27, 209–234.

Burke, H, Phillips, E R, Lee, J R, and Wilkinson, I P.  2009.  Imbricate thrust stack model for the formation of glaciotectonic rafts: an example from the Middle Pleistocene of north Norfolk, UK.  Boreas 38, 620–637.

Phillips, E R, Evans, D J A, and Auton, C A.  2002.  Polyphase deformation at an oscillating ice margin following the Loch Lomond readvance, central Scotland, UK.  Sedimentary Geology 149, 157–182.

Phillips, E, and Merritt, J.  2008.  Evidence for multiphase water escape during rafting of shelly marine sediments at Clava, Inverness-shire, NE Scotland.  Quaternary Science Reviews 27, 988–1011.

Phillips, E, Everest, J, and Reeves, H.  2013.  Micromorphological evidence for subglacial multiphase sedimentation and deformation during overpressurised fluid flow associated with hydrofracturing.  Boreas 42, 395–427.

Phillips, E, and Hughes, L.  2014.  Hydrofracturing in response to the development of an overpressurised subglacial meltwater system during drumlin formation: an example from Anglesey, NW Wales.  Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 125, 296–311.

Van der Meer, J J M, Kjær, K, and Krüger, J.  1999.  Subglacial water escape structures, Slettjökull, Iceland.  Journal of Quaternary Science 14, 191–205.

Van der Meer, J J M, Kjær, K H, Krüger, J, Rabassa, J, and Kilfeather, A A.  2008.  Under pressure: clastic dykes in glacial settings.  Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 708–720.

Vaughan-Hirsch, D P, Phillips, E, Lee, J R, and Hart, J K.  2013.  Micromorphological analysis of polyphase deformation associated with the transport and emplacement of glaciotectonic rafts at West Runton, north Norfolk, UK.  Boreas 42, 376–394.

How to apply: http://www.nercdtp.leeds.ac.uk/how-to-apply/

Application deadline: 8 January 2018

Further details: for further information please contact Prof Jeff Peakall j.peakall@leeds.ac.uk

The influence of extreme events in the long time evolution of mixed gravel/sand barrier beaches

BGS Supervisor: Andres Payo

University Supervisor: Riccardo Briganti

DTP: ENVISION, Lancaster

Project description

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship within the NERC-ENVISION Doctoral Training Partnership with a project entitled: “The influence of extreme events in the longterm evolution of mixed gravel/sand barrier beaches”. Barrier beaches are common features along the coastline of England, and elsewhere in the world. These barrier features are important for the geomorphology and equilibrium of the beach. They act, for example, as routes for the transport of littoral sediments and as important boundaries behind which lagoons form (i.e. Slapton sands, U.K.). They are also very important as natural flood defences, protecting substantial areas from coastal inundation. Extreme events can cause over-wash and breaching, affecting the general equilibrium of the beach and the protected area. The role of these type of events in the long term evolution of the beach is not yet clear. The research project will use analysis of existing and new data on barrier beaches as well as numerical methods. The candidate will investigate the behaviour of monitored beaches and he/she will model their evolution during storms to inform models that predict the evolution on longer time scales. The student should possess a strong background in fluid mechanics and sediment transport. Knowledge of numerical modelling, computer programming (e.g. Python, MATLAB), and familiarity with geomorphology, coastal dynamics, and related numerical models are very welcome. The student will join the Coastal Dynamics and Engineering research group at the University of Nottingham, specialized in the theoretical and numerical study of coastal processes and coastal defence design and performance. He/she will also carry out part of the research at the BGS in Keyworth where he/she will be involved in field measurements.

Students should have, or expect to obtain, a first-class or good 2:1 honours degree, or a distinction or high merit at MSc level (or international equivalent), in civil engineering, geography, physics, mathematics or closely related disciplines.

How to apply: http://www.envision-dtp.org/projects/information/

Application deadline: Sunday 14 January 2018.

Further details: For informal enquiries regarding this studentship please contact Dr Riccardo Briganti.

What can hydrocarbon fingerprints tell us about fracking in organic-rich shales?

BGS Supervisors: Rob Cuss and Jon Harrington

University Supervisors: Prof Sarah Davies and Prof Paul Monks

DTP: CENTA, Leicester

DTP project details: http://www.centa.org.uk/themes/anthropogenic/l6/

Project description

The accurate estimation of the hydrocarbon content of potential source rocks is increasingly important as unconventional sources of hydrocarbons become economically viable and we look to manage of our environment responsibly as we try to meet our energy needs. This proposed PhD offers an exceptional interdisciplinary research opportunity to combine chemistry, geology and geomechanics and explore the fundamental links between the physics and chemistry of shales and the release of hydrocarbons.

Shale is an abundant sedimentary rock composed of compacted silt- and clay-sized material that often includes organic matter that may generate economically significant quantities of gas and oil hydrocarbons (Aplin & Macquaker 2011). Extracting oil or gas from shale requires pervasively fracturing the rock; termed hydraulic fracturing ("fracking", this consists of drilling a well in the prospective shale units and injecting water under high pressure mixed with a proppant (~5%) and chemical additives (~0.2%) to fracture the rock and stimulate the release of hydrocarbons (Bickle et al, 2012). Proof-of-principle laboratory experiments (Sommariva et al, 2014) demonstrate it is possible to quantify in real time (second by second) a wide range of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) gases as they are released during a fracturing process (Figure 1). Systematic variations in total organic carbon content are known to be related to lithological differences (Könitzer et al. 2014) but this has not been linked to the types of hydrocarbons released. The release of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere from oil and gas extraction can lead to the formation of pollutants and exploitation has important implications for air quality and climate. Therefore knowledge of the abundance of methane and speciated NMHC, and how that relates to geological characteristics of the shale is important. The PhD will explore how the physical character and chemical composition (lithology, mineralogy, organic matter type, maturity and abundance, and geomechanical properties) of the rock controls hydrocarbon (methane and other volatile organic compounds) speciation.

A range of organic-rich shale (mudstone) samples will be examined to determine mineralogy, lithology and fabrics. A range of imaging techniques (e.g. optical microscopy, CT, SEM) will be undertaken on samples before and after fracture stimulation to help assess fracture efficiency. Experimental research The fracture processes and real-time data on the mode of failure and volume of gas discharged will be undertaken through a series of analytical experiments (e.g. Blake et al, 2004, Sommariva et al. 2014). NMHC release from the crushed samples in real time will be analysed using proton transfer reaction-time of flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF MS). The PTR technique is not sensitive to some classes of NMHC and the whole range of hydrocarbons will be analysed using thermal desorption-gas chromatography mass spectrometry (TD-GC MS). Experiments on intact and crushed rock samples will build a detailed understanding of the fracturing processes.

Applicants should have a strong interest in environmental science, chemistry and geology and will be working with a range of state-of-the-art research instrumentation for trace gas measurements and analysing the data produced. Strong practical competence is essential.

The successful applicant will interact with internationally recognised scientists working on a range of research examining unconventional resources, including fracking, controls on the distribution of organic matter and the physical properties of shale.

How to apply: http://www.centa.org.uk/apply/

Application deadline: Monday 22 January 2018.

Further details: For further details please contact Prof Sarah Davies, (sjd27@le.ac.uk) or Prof Paul Monks (P.S.Monks@le.ac.uk)

Minerals and waste
A new tool for characterising REE ore deposits — developing clumped isotopes in strontianite (SrCO3)

BGS Supervisors: Kathryn Goodenough and Keith Bateman

University Supervisors: John MacDonald, Adrian Boyce

DTP: IAPETUS, Glasgow

DTP project details: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/iap-17-49-a-new-tool-for-characterising-ree-ore-deposits-developing-clumped-isotopes-in-strontianite-srco3/

Project description

The rare earth elements (REE) are critical metals, and have a wide range of uses, notably in renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies. They are currently only mined in a few locations, with the most important mines being in China, particularly the Bayan Obo mine. As a result, security of supply is an important consideration for other countries including the UK. Many REE ore minerals are found in carbonatites, or associated late-stage hydrothermal rocks, but the genesis of mineralisation and particularly the thermal evolution of the REE deposits are not generally well known. Understanding the thermal history of REE deposits is therefore vital in characterising them for exploitation.

The main goal of this project is to determine the thermal history of carbonatite-associated REE deposits by applying the recently developed carbonate clumped isotope palaeothermometer to the mineral strontianite (SrCO3), which is commonly texturally associated with REE ores (Figure 1).

The clumped isotopes method has great potential as a proxy for reconstructing past temperatures in a range of geological settings. This method is based on the temperature dependence of bonds between heavy carbon (13C) and oxygen (18O) isotopes in the carbonate mineral lattice. It has successfully been used as a temperature proxy in palaeoclimate studies using the common carbonate mineral calcite e.g. 2–4 but is also attracting increasing interest as a method for determining temperatures of geological processes in the subsurface e.g. 5–7. As a carbonate mineral, strontianite is suitable for clumped isotope analysis but the technique has yet to be applied to this mineral. Other temperature proxies have various drawbacks: δ18O thermometry requires an assumption on parent fluid composition while fluid inclusions are not always present. Clumped isotopes have neither of these drawbacks and therefore this project offers an exciting opportunity for a student to apply the technique to a new mineral and for the first time in REE ore deposit settings.

How to apply: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/aboutstudentships/

Application deadline: 19 January 2018 (5 pm GMT)

Further details: For further information please contact John MacDonald john.macdonald.3@glasgow.ac.uk

Post-subduction magmatism and mineralisation: the Tuvatu gold deposit, Fiji

BGS Supervisors: Jon Naden and David Holwell

University Supervisors: Dan Smith, and Andrew Miles (University of Leicester), Stephen Mann (Lion One Metals Ltd) and Paul Spry (Iowa State University)

DTP: CENTA, University of Leicester

DTP project details: http://www.centa.org.uk/themes/dynamic-earth/l37/

Project description

Post-subduction magmatism is a common phenomenon in former volcanic arcs and is increasingly recognised as an important control on the formation of exceptional ore deposits. Some of the world's largest and/or highest grade copper and gold deposits are associated with arc magmatic systems that were active after subduction ceased. These post-subduction ore deposits are also notable for their enrichment in a wide range of trace elements and minerals, including "critical" elements such as Te, Pt, Pd, Bi and Sb.

Your project will investigate Lion One Metals' Tuvatu project, Viti Levu, Fiji. Tuvatu is an epithermal gold deposit that represents one of a number of mines and prospects (e.g. Vatukoula, Mt Kasi) associated with post-subduction volcanism in Fiji. These deposits occur along a trend referred to as the Viti Levu lineament.

The shoshonites (potassic volcanic rocks) and monzonites of the Tuvatu caldera host a low sulfidation epithermal deposit with high-grade gold telluride-bearing veins. Lead supervisor Smith is leading an international consortium to study post-subduction Au–Te deposits, and this project represents a key part of that portfolio. The collaboration with Lion One Metals offers an exceptional opportunity to develop models of pre-ore igneous petrogenesis, hydrothermal fluid evolution, and the architecture of the resulting ore deposit. This project will build upon previous studies of mineralisation of Tuvatu.

The aim of this project is to unravel the magmatic evolution of the Tuvatu caldera, with comparison to centres elsewhere in Fiji, on- and off-trend of the Viti Levu Lineament. You will link the mineralisation to the magmatic evolution, and the subsequent interaction between hydrothermal fluids and the alkaline host rocks (following on from the models of Smith et al. 2017), to build a detailed, process-based genetic model for the Tuvatu deposit.

Key research questions include:

Why do alkaline, post-subduction magmas host exceptionally Au and Te rich ores?

Is the hydrothermal evolution of the Tuvatu deposit controlled by the potassic and alkaline nature of the host rocks?

Do the potassic post-subduction rocks of Fiji carry enhanced Au ad Te to the upper crust?

How to apply: https://www2.le.ac.uk/research-degrees/funding/centa/how-to-apply-for-a-centa-project

Application deadline: Monday 22 January 2018.

Further details: For further details please contact Dr Dan Smith.

NIGL
Deciphering the phosphorus cycle in soils: towards an understanding of mineral dissolution by microbially produced organic and inorganic acids

BGS Supervisor: Angela Lamb

University Supervisors: Dr Karen Olsson-Francis and Dr Kadmiel Maseyk

DTP: CENTA, The Open University

DTP project details: http://www.centa.org.uk/themes/organisms/ou15/

Project description

Inorganic phosphorus (Pi) is an essential macronutrient for all organisms playing an integral role in the structure and function of key biomolecules). At low concentrations, Pi can limit primary productivity whereas at high levels, Pi can become a pollutant causing eutrophication of water bodies. Further understanding of the biogeochemical cycling of Pi in soils is required to inform future environmental management of finite global Pi reserves and to minimise environmental impacts of over-use.

In recent years, the oxygen isotope composition of dissolved phosphates (δ18OPO4) have been used to try and track Pi sources). However, distinct δ18OPO4 values of the source material do not retain their isotope signature during biogeochemical cycling and much remains unknown about the effects of biological processing of P. In laboratory culture experiments, phosphate is completely cycled by the bacteria, resulting in complete oxygen isotope exchange between phosphate and water ). However, in the natural environment, phosphate is only completely cycled when present as a limiting nutrient. At high phosphate concentrations, δ18OPO4 values fall between the source material and equilibrium values (Figure 1). It is not known whether this is a two component mixing between source and equilibrium δ18OPO4 values or whether other processes are fractionating the source resulting in intermediate δ18OPO4 values.

We know that a) no significant O isotope fractionation occurs during adsorption-desorption and sequestration b) E. coli preferentially take up lighter isotopologues of phosphate with a fractionation factor of -3‰; this fractionation is unknown for other organisms and c) microbial dissolution of different sediment P phases result in distinct δ18OPO4 values of dissolved P. To date, however, it is not known whether any isotope fractionation occurs during partial dissolution of minerals by organic acids (although it is suggested in soils) or if this fractionation depends on the organic acid present.

The overall aim of this proposal is to examine isotope fractionation during dissolution of phosphate minerals by organic and inorganic acids, specifically:

  • Determine the isotope fractionation (if any) that occurs during partial dissolution of minerals by a range of organic and inorganic acids (recent studies suggest that phosphate release is highly dependent on the type of acid)
  • Determine the effect of microbial mediated organic acids on fractionation
  • Determine the effect of metabolically active microorganisms on fractionation

How to apply: http://www.centa.org.uk/apply/

Application deadline: 22 January 2018

Further details: For further details please contact Dr Karen Olsson-Francis k.olsson-francis@open.ac.uk

Platinum-group element and isotopic geochemistry of lamprophyric dykes from the Bushveld Complex, South Africa: implications for mapping precious metals in the mantle as a mineral exploration tool

BGS Supervisor: Simon Tapster

University Supervisor: Hannah Hughes

DTP: GW4+, Exeter

DTP project details: https://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/project/platinum-group-element-and-isotopic-geochemistry-of-lamprophyric-dykes-from-the-bushveld-complex-south-africa-implications-for-mapping-precious-metals-in-the-mantle-as-a-mineral-exploration-tool/

Project description

A suite of lamprophyric dykes have recently been described cross-cutting the Bushveld Complex of South Africa (Hughes et al., 2016) – the world’s largest layered intrusion and storehouse of Cr, V and platinum-group elements (PGE) mineral deposits. Despite the Bushveld Complex being one of the classic areas for igneous and economic geoscience research in the world, surprisingly little is known about the provenance of the magmas and metals from which it formed and mineralised. The lamprophyre dykes cross-cutting the Bushveld are substantially younger than the Bushveld Complex itself (Hughes et al., in prep) and are thought to have been derived from very small degree partial melts of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). Via time-integrated radiogenic isotopic compositions of the lamprophyres, spatial and temporal changes in sub-Bushveld SCLM composition may be identified.

A significant aim of the PhD project is to ascertain the controls on PGE behaviour and geochemistry: a paradox of lamprophyric rocks (including kimberlites) is that their PGE (and Au) abundance is higher than would be expected given the very low degrees of partial melting required to form them (McDonald et al., 1995). This observation contradicts ‘traditional’ partial melting models thought to dictate the ‘fertility’ of mantle-derived magmas for PGE and Au. By contextualising PGE geochemical data with the petrography, mineral chemistry and isotopic compositions of lamprophyric dykes (and comparing these with appropriate mantle/mantle-derived lithologies), the PhD studentship will identify the processes governing the (re)distribution of these elements in the upper mantle.

The proposed PhD study will establish the radiogenic isotopic and PGE characteristics of the dykes (with some reference samples from kimberlites and other lamprophyres) and thereby couple these geochemical tools. Thus the objectives of the studentship are to:

  1. Gain insights into the precious metal budget of the mantle through time.
  2. Assess if this metal budget and it's 'fingerprints' impact upon the location and characteristics of major mineralised metal deposits, e.g. the Bushveld Complex itself.
  3. Develop PGE as a tool for understanding lamprophyric rock petrogenesis, possibly towards kimberlite (diamond) exploration.

Candidates suited to this PhD will have an interest in mantle petrology, mantle processes, geochemistry (including isotope geochemistry and platinum-group element geochemistry), and economic geology. The candidate will be collaborative, and keen to travel and visit various labs across the UK and in South Africa (RSA).

How to apply: https://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/research-themes/prospective-students/

Application deadline: Midnight GMT Sunday 7 January 2018.

Further details: For further information please email Hannah Hughes Contact number: 01326 253614.

Joint

Centre for Environmental Geochemistry
Indian Atlantic Ocean connections through the Pliocene and Pleistocene

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisor: Dr Erin McClymount

DTP: IAPETUS, Durham

DTP project details: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/iap-17-38-indian-atlantic-ocean-connections-through-the-pliocene-and-pleistocene/

Project description

An important component of the global thermohaline conveyor is the input of warm and salty Indian Ocean waters to the South–east Atlantic Ocean, via the Agulhas leakage (Figure 1). This is the 'warm water return route' of the thermohaline conveyor, driven by 2–20 Sv of subtropical waters entering the Atlantic Ocean [1]. In the late Pleistocene, variability in the strength of Agulhas leakage has been reconstructed on both glacial–interglacial and millennial timescales, and linked to fluctuations in Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) intensity [2–4]. However, the exact controls over the strength of Agulhas leakage, and its wider climate impacts, are not resolved. For example, was the Agulhas leakage stronger or weaker during the globally warmer Pliocene epoch (~3–5 Ma)? This study will provide the first assessment of Agulhas leakage strength spanning the Pliocene, the onset and intensification of glacial cycles in the early Pleistocene, and their further development during the mid–Pleistocene climate transition ~1 million years ago. The project benefits from the recent drilling by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) of a long and continuous marine sediment record from the Cape Basin, to the south–west of South Africa (Figure 1). Previous work at the nearby ODP Site 1087 has indicated that the dominant wind systems of the region may have intensified and/or migrated northward since the Pliocene [3,5], but the impact on Agulhas Leakage remains uncertain.

The key research questions for this project are:

  1. Was Agulhas leakage stronger during the Pliocene?
  2. Did Agulhas leakage change with the onset and intensification of glaciation cycles?
  3. What is the relationship between variability in Agulhas leakage and variability in AMOC?

The PhD student will benefit from close collaboration between the supervisory team and other members of the IODP Expedition 361 science party, who are studying the evolution of southern African climate and the links to circulation in the Indian Ocean and close to the Subtropical Front.

How to apply: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/aboutstudentships/

Application deadline: 19 January 2018 (5 pm GMT)

Further details: For further information please contact Dr Erin McClymont, erin.mcclymont@durham.ac.uk Tel: 00 44 191 334 3498.

Timing and magnitude of late glacial and Holocene climate change in the tropical Andes, Peru

BGS Supervisor: Melanie Leng

University Supervisors: Andrew Henderson, Neil Ross

DTP: IAPETUS, Newcastle

DTP project details: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/iap-17-121-timing-and-magnitude-of-late-glacial-and-holocene-climate-change-in-the-tropical-andes-peru/

Project description

As the majority of Earth's energy is received at the tropics the region has huge potential to trigger and/or amplify climate change. Elucidating the role of the tropics in global climate change is essential to constraining future climate trajectories. In particular, new understandings are needed on the relationship between climate change in tropical and extra–tropical regions, and the role of 'tropical' forcing in causing ice ages, and abrupt climate variability. There is now compelling evidence for major shifts in tropical temperature and precipitation during the Holocene and particularly over the last few millennia, and this has challenged the hitherto prevailing view of tropical climate stability during this time. However, the timing, magnitude and expression of these climate perturbations are highly variable, especially across South America.

Lake sediments are widely accessible natural archives of environmental change in the Andes and they have the potential to provide insights into both long– (millennial) and short–term (decadal) changes in climate. In the tropical Andes, palaeolimnological records have provided evidence of changes in the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), palaeohydrology and South American monsoon; demonstrating that climate is highly dynamic, and modulated by both Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

The PhD project will target a formerly–glaciated region in northern Peru at ~5°S. The student will generate multi–proxy lake sediment records to track ENSO variability over the last 2,000 years, and to provide evidence of palaeohydological changes since deglaciation. As fundamental questions remain about climate variability in the tropical Andes, especially synoptic–scale mechanisms that cause changes in hydroclimate, the studentship will develop answers and insights into the following questions:

  • What is the timing and frequency of ENSO–driven shifts during the late Holocene?
  • What are the magnitude of centennial and millennial–scale climate events since the deglacial?
  • What are the spatio–temporal linkages between ENSO, equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures and North Atlantic climate variability?

How to apply: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk/aboutstudentships/

Application deadline: 19 January 2018 (5 pm GMT)

Further details: Further details: For further information please contact Andrew Henderson andrew.henderson@ncl.ac.uk Tel: +44 (0) 191 208 3086.

Engineering geology and infrastructure
Evolution and memory of early-warning institutions for natural hazards in South Asia

BGS Supervisor: Helen Reeves

University Supervisor: Dr George Adamson and Dr Amy Donovan

DTP: SHEAR, Kings College London. This project is associated with BGS via the LANDSLIP Programme

DTP project details: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/faculty-of-engineering/civil/public/phd-opportunities/Kings_EvolutionMemory.pdf

Project description

Effective preparation and response to natural hazards is highly reliant on the efficacy of institutions tasked with early-warning. The policy and practice of such institutions is heavily informed by past events. Institutional memory – or path dependency (e.g., van Bavel and Curtis, 2015) – can constrain effective response by 'locking-in' institutions to decisions made in the past. Practice can then be over-reliant on expectations based on past hazards. Conversely, important lessons from past events may be forgotten over time. The function of institutions can also be historically contingent, meaning that disaster management institutions can be poorly prepared to deal with social changes (Dovers and Hezri, 2010). This is a particular problem where institutions were formed under colonial governance. For example, certain forms of natural disaster response may reflect traditional political, religious or gender divisions. Moreover, institutions may be poorly prepared to address new technologies used in early warning and disaster and response. Understanding how disaster institutions evolve over time is vital to appreciate how they may evolve in the future, and to overcome path dependencies and ensure the most effective disaster management.

This project will seek to uncover the evolution of disaster management institutions over the last two to ten decades. The project will compare two South Asian countries with different colonial and postcolonial contexts: India and Nepal. Data will be collected through interviews, and archival analysis in India, Nepal and the UK. Institutional links have already been made through the SHEAR projects, for example, in India at the national level the National Disaster Management Authority, Indian Meteorological Department and Geological Survey of India, and at the State level the District Collector’s Offices of Darjeeling and the Nilgiris. Opportunities will exist to extend the research beyond the study areas covered through the SHEAR projects. To align with the aims of the NERC-SHEAR funding for South Asia, the primary focus will be on landslide risk, but there will be scope to extend the project to flooding and other hazards.

Skills and experience:

The project would be suitable for a student with a background in human geography, environmental or political history, science and technology studies (STS), development studies, social sciences, or a related discipline. An interdisciplinary background with knowledge of geology, meteorology or environmental science would be advantageous. The student would also be expected to be very well organized and creative. Strongly desirable would be a student with a working knowledge in India or Nepal.

You should hold a Bachelor’s degree with 1st class honours (or overseas equivalent) and a good Master's degree. At undergraduate level, a 2:1 (upper second class) honours degree (or international equivalent) may be acceptable depending on the candidate's academic background (e.g., strong performance (predicted or achieved) in a Master's degree, mature students with relevant workplace experience, mitigating personal circumstances). Non-UK entry qualifications is at: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/entry-requirements/International.aspx (find your country, then go to the section postgraduate research courses).

How to apply: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/environmental-and-water-resource-engineering/research/shear-studentship-cohort-ssc-programme/

Application deadline: 15 October 2017 or until position is filled.

Further details: Dr George Adamson and Dr Amy Donovan