UCL Earth Sciences


Paul Minton

“Using microfossils to provide insights into long-term, seemingly gradual, climate change.”

PhD project title:

Late Middle Miocene climatic and biotic evolution: a high-resolution record from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Site U1338.

Paul Minton
Project description:

The Miocene spans a period of Earth’s history from ~23 – 5.3 Ma. During the Miocene, the climate changed from relatively warm, to today’s cooler conditions. The middle Miocene experienced a long warm interval (~ 15 – 17 Ma), followed by a significant cooling step (at ~ 13.9 Ma), and then a prolonged period of more gradual cooling leading to the establishment of permanent ice sheets in the Northern hemisphere. This period of gradual cooling is not as well studied as the more distinctive warm interval and rapid cooling steps, however, understanding how, and why, the climate system changed during ‘slow cooling’ is as important as understanding more dramatic change. 
The project focuses on a marine sedimentary core (U1338) from the eastern Equatorial Pacific, recovered by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. It will be studied to provide a high-resolution (~ 3,000 yr interval) record of this slow cooling period from ~13.3 Ma – 10.5 Ma. Planktonic foraminifera will be used for geochemical analyses, astronomical tuning and to study the evolutionary response to prolonged change. This will enable comparison with benthic foraminiferal records from the same core, comparison with other regional and global records, allow mechanisms leading to climate change to be inferred, and provide data to support climate models. 

Background – After graduating from Bristol University with a degree in Geology and Archaeology, Paul joined the police – and stayed for 32 years. On leaving he completed an MSc in Geoscience at UCL where his research was on stable isotopes in glacial-age speleothems.