Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: Imperial College London
Dates: Oct 2004-Sep 2012
Summary: 1) Geomagnetic field behaviour: I develop techniques to better understand the variations in the geomagnetic field on geological timescales as recorded by rocks. Extracting directional magnetic recording from rocks is relatively straightforward, but extracting the intensity is much more problematic. Reliable intensity data is required if we are to construct accurate geomagnetic field models and understand the long-term behaviour. With colleagues, I work on several new methods of determining accurate ancient geomagnetic field intensity (palaeointensity) determination.
2) Large Igneous Provinces and Mass Extinctions: it has been argued by some, that large igneous provinces like the Deccan traps in India, are the cause of mass extinctions in the geological record: there is a strong correlation. However, there are some large igneous provinces, like the Etendeka traps in Namibia which are not correlated with large mass extinctions. Why not? As part of on-going research I am examining the extrusion rates of the Etendeka traps to determine why there is no mass extinction associated with their formation.
3) Catastrophic Events: I have recently developed and tested an idea to use magnetic methods to determine the age of megafloods and similar catastrophic events. I have collected samples from erratics (large boulders left over from floods, landslides tsunamis etc), to determine the age of the events. The method appears to work well on recent (less than 2000 years old) events, and I will continue to develop this technique with collaborators in Norway.
4) Mineral formation in hydrocarbons: I have recently been using magnetic techniques to quantify mineral formation and migration in hydrocarbons, with particular reference to the Wessex Basin in England. This research was recently recognized by a NERC grant; I am the PI.