Clumped Isotopes as a Climate Proxy in Ecologically Important Scottish Tufas

Clumped Isotopes as a Climate Proxy in Ecologically Important Scottish Tufas

Supervisor: John MacDonald (GES, University of Glasgow;; Robert McCulloch (University of Stirling); Adrian Boyce (SUERC); Vanessa Kirkbride (Scottish Natural Heritage)

Description: Tufas are terrestrial carbonate deposits that precipitate at ambient temperatures when CO2 outgasses from water, often at a spring or at some obstruction in a stream which causes water turbulence. Tufas are an important palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental archive where seasonal temperature variation can be reconstructed through their δ18O. Palaeotemperature reconstruction through δ18O measurements can be hampered, particularly in fossil tufas, by having to make an assumption on the δ18O value of the spring water from which the fossil tufa precipitated. Recent work has shown that ‘clumped’ isotopes may be a viable climate proxy in tufas which avoids this assumption.

The main goal of this project is to test clumped isotopes as a seasonal temperature proxy in temperate climates through investigation of both active and fossil Holocene Scottish tufas.

Tufas (both active and fossil) are common but poorly documented in Scotland and so where they do occur they are often designated, ecologically important sites. Many rare, lime-loving (calcicole) species live in the moss carpet, particularly arcticalpine species, such as bird’s-eye primrose Primula farinosa, Scottish asphodel Tofieldia pusilla, alpine bartsia Bartsia alpina and false sedge Kobresia simpliciuscula. If tufas were to stop precipitating, for example due to climate change, these rare species would be threatened. It is therefore important to investigate these temperate Scottish tufas and better understand their precipitation histories relative to temperature changes.

Funding notes: IAPETUS’ postgraduate studentships are tenable for between 3 and 4 years, depending on the doctoral research project the student is studying and provides the following package of financial support:

  • A tax-free maintenance grant set at the UK Research Council’s national rate, which in 2017/18 is £14,553 (pending confirmation).
  • Full payment of their tuition fees at the Home/EU rate; &
  • Access to extensive research support funding.

Part-time award-holders are funded for between six (6) and eight (8) years and receive a maintenance grant at 50% of the full-time rate.

Eligibility: All applicants need to meet NERC’s eligibility criteria to be considered for an IAPETUS studentship and these are detailed in NERC’s current studentship handbook.
IAPETUS is only able to consider applications from Home/European Union candidates. International candidates are not eligible to be considered and where an candidate from another EU country has not been resident in the UK for 3 years or more prior to the commencement of their studies with IAPETUS, they will only be eligible for a fees-only studentship.

IAPETUS is looking for candidates with the following qualities and backgrounds:

  • A first or 2:1 undergraduate degree, or have relevant comparable experience;
  • In addition, candidates may also hold or be completing a Masters degree in their area of proposed study or a related discipline; &
  • An outstanding academic pedigree and research potential, such as evidenced through the publication of articles, participation in academic conferences and other similar activities.

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Deadline: 19 January 2018

Start Date: All studentships will commence in September/October 2018, except in exceptional circumstances.