UCL Earth Sciences


Dr David Wilson

Isotope geochemistry, paleoceanography, climate, weathering, ocean circulation, ice sheets

Research Associate     

David Wilson




Research Associate     K. Lonsdale Building, 101

Courses Taught:

non-teaching appointment

Research Group(s):

The London Geochemistry and Isotope Centre
Past Climate Change


Email Address:

Telephone Number:

    david.j.wilson@ucl.ac.uk020 3108 6349 (56349)

Research Summary

As a geologist and earth scientist, my research uses isotopic and geochemical measurements to investigate past changes in ocean chemistry, ocean circulation, continental weathering, and polar ice sheets, and how these interacted with Earth's climate evolution. Evidence from such paleoclimate studies provides an invaluable context for understanding the present and future climate system.

Research Projects

Much of my research has focused on understanding and applying neodymium (Nd) isotopes as a tracer for mixing between water masses in the past, in order to address the variability of past ocean currents and their implications for global and regional climate change. This work has been carried out using substrates from deep sea sediment cores, such as reductive sediment leachates, foraminifera and fish teeth.

Deep-sea corals are also emerging as a very promising multi-proxy archive, and I have been using Nd isotopes measured on deep-sea corals from the Southern Ocean in order to constrain deglacial changes in ocean circulation. This research is providing new constraints on the ocean's role in atmospheric carbon dioxide changes on millennial and sub-millennial timescales.

An alternative application of Nd isotopes is for tracing detrital sediment provenance. In this way, I have been able to explore the behaviour of the Antarctic ice sheet during past warm intervals, which has implications for its future behaviour.

My other research focus has been on lead (Pb) isotopes in the ocean, which provide unique evidence on regional weathering inputs. I have conducted analytical method development for high precision isotope measurements on small quantitites of Pb in deep-sea corals, as well as applying Pb isotopes in corals and ferromanganese oxides to reconstruct past changes in continental weathering through glacial-interglacial cycles.

At UCL, I will be using a stable isotope system – lithium (Li) isotopes – to explore continental weathering processes and their role in the Earth’s carbon cycle.