UCL Earth Sciences


Rehemat Bhatia

"Studying tiny fossils with big stories to tell"

PhD project title:

Geochemical signals in greenhouse and icehouse planktonic foraminifera

Rehemat Bhatia
Project description:

The geochemistry of planktonic foraminifera can be used to work out different palaeoceanographic conditions. Carbon isotopes can be used a proxy for photosymbiotic activity and different trace element signatures can be used as proxies for many palaeoceanographic conditions, including sea surface temperatures, pH and nutrient input. However, different species have different geochemical offsets, which occur due to varying depth habitats and the presence of photosymbionts. Therefore, it is most important to understand the palaeobiology of extinct species in order to understand more about oceanic conditions in the past.

My project will focus on using trace element and δ13C multispecies analysis of Eocene and Oligocene age planktonic foraminifera to work out their palaeoecology, namely their depth habitats, photosymbiotic associations and ontogenetic changes. The data will also reveal more about vital effects, which affect the geochemistry of foraminifera. Scanning electron microscope analysis will also be used to identify taxonomic variability and preservation.

I did my undergraduate in Geoscience at Royal Holloway, University of London. My MSci project (supervised by Dr Wolfgang Müller & David Evans) focused on using the geochemistry of planktonic foraminifera to study sea surface temperature reconstruction & monsoon variability during the late Pleistocene; and using SEM images to look at the effects of diagenesis and recrystallisation