Orbital climate variability in the middle and late Miocene

This project is available from the academic year 2020/21 onwards.

Theme: Earth, Atmosphere & Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor:

Bridget Wade

Earth Sciences, UCL

Bridget Wade's Profile Picture

Project Description:

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site U1338 recovered middle and late Miocene sediments with high sedimentation rates (30m/myr), continuous recovery, and orbital cyclicity. Planktonic foraminiferal are abundant and assemblages are well preserved and diverse, allowing for studies of foraminiferal biostratigraphy, geochemistry and biotic evolution. This site therefore provides the opportunity to produce the first detailed multispecies record of planktonic and benthic foraminiferal oxygen and carbon isotopes to document climate variability in the middle to late Miocene (specifically from 12-8 Ma). Samples from Site U1338 will analyzed every 10 cm (equivalent to 3000 kyr resolution). Work will be in collaboration with Anna Joy Drury and Thomas Westerhold (Marum, Germany) who are producing a detailed benthic foraminiferal stable isotope record at this site. The objectives are:

• Determine the nature and variability of middle to late Miocene climate and the relationship to orbital variations in solar insolation.

• Investigate changes in the thermal and nutrient structure of the ocean

• Examine the relationship between climatic warming and planktonic foraminiferal evolution

The student will be provided with a wide range of training including geochemical methods for past climate reconstruction (stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon and trace elements), planktonic foraminiferal taxonomy and stratigraphy. The student will attend the Earth System Science and Urbino Summer School (in Italy) to broaden his/her understanding of Earth Systems Science and palaeoclimatology, and will be encouraged to present their research at relevant UK and overseas conferences. They will be joining large, active research group in geochemistry and micropalaeontology.

Policy Impact of Research:

High resolution records provide key details of the variability of climate, especially in response to carbon dioxide variations, Antarctic ice volume fluctuations and orbital cyclicity. Several pronounced, short-term climatic events have only recently been discovered, and have suggested that extreme short-term shifts are much more prevalent than previously thought.


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