Oxygen Levels were Key to Early Animal Evolution.

A recently graduated doctoral student from our department has just published strong evidence that oxygen levels were key to early animal evolution. Dr Rosalie Tostevin (now at Oxford University) was supervised by Professor Graham Shields-Zhou in a project studying some of the world’s oldest animal-based reef ecosystems in Namibia. Over the course of her PhD, she looked at various chemical tracers of oxygen, before settling on a unique combination of iron speciation, rare earth elements and sulphur isotopes. The study has been widely reported as the first one that is able to distinguish between bodies of water with low and high levels of oxygen (not simply distinguishing oxic from anoxic waters).  Rosalie shows in her work, published in Nature Communications, that poorly oxygenated waters did not support the complex life that evolved immediately prior to the Cambrian Period, suggesting the presence of oxygen was a key factor in their appearance. More...

EarthSciences Arctic Meeting

Understanding the Arctic.

The Arctic has undergone some of the most rapid transformations over the past 50 years, with global implications for the Earth’s climate. A dramatic indicator of Arctic climate change is the shrinking summer sea ice cover. Recently Arctic sea ice loss has accelerated with the ten lowest minima sea ice extents (SIE) all occurring in the last ten years, and the Arctic is now expected to become ice-free during summer at some point this century.  More...

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Crystallography and Mineral Physics

Our CMP group is internationally renowned for performing outstanding research into to the composition, structure, dynamics and evolution of the Earth and terrestrial planets. We combine both high P/T experimental techniques (DAC, MAP) with computational mineral physics. We regularly gain beamtime at the Rutherford ISIS facility and have access to high-performance computing via the UK Mineral Physics Consortium.