Thomas Baird

Thomas Baird

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Thomas Baird
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Start Year

2016 (Cohort 3)

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PhD Project
PhD Title
Sahara Dune Sands: Quantifying Celerity, Dust Production, and Provenance
Research Theme
Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Processes
Primary Supervisor

Pieter Vermeesch

Primary Institution
Secondary Supervisor

Charlie Bristow

Secondary Institution

Fundamental to advancing contemporary understandings of desert landscape dynamics is the need to address the lack of quantification of surface processes (Mayaud et al., 2017). This project seeks to address this issue by combining a range of innovative research techniques and analytical methods. The celerity of dunes within Saharan sand seas will be quantified with the application of the COSI-Corr algorithm (Ayoub et al., 2009) to Landsat and ASTER imagery for the years 2000, 2008, and 2016. The scale of this application will be unique in the scientific literature and will identify any contemporary changes in dune migration rates. A provenance study using heavy mineral analysis and U-Pb dating will be conducted on pre-collected Saharan dune sand samples. The provenance of Saharan sand dunes is an understudied area, largely due to the cost of sample analysis. This study will provide information relating to Saharan sand sea supply and desertification history. The dust emissivity potential of these pre-collected samples will be quantified using a saltation chamber. Moreover, benefiting from the geochemical analysis of the provenance study, this experiment will provide further discourse into whether sand dunes are the major source of mineral aerosols in the Sahara (Crouvi et al., 2012).

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