3 PhD studentships available to work with Prof. Mark at the Scottish
Universities Environmental research Centre

1. Reconstructing the Plio-Quaternary habitats and climate extremes of prehistoric humans in Aparan, Armenia (funded by the IAPETUS NERC DTP).
The Plio-Quaternary geomorphologic and palaeoclimatic evolution of Armenia is poorly constrained, particularly to the north of Mount Aragats, an isolated four-peaked volcano massif. Here vast palaeo-lakes of assumed Pleistocene age (ca. MIS 19) show evidence for prehistoric human occupation along their shores. These lake deposits show rapid changes in depositional environments (e.g., fluvio-glacial), which along with glacial landforms located higher in the mountains (e.g., moraines, erractic blocks) and intercalated air fall pumice deposits and on-lapping lava flows, provide rich sources of information about Quaternary landscape evolution and palaeoclimate. The discovery of prehistoric human occupation in Georgia (Dmanisi) at ca. 1.8 Ma as well as more modern Palaeolithic sites in Armenia (300 ka) show that this region is a critical interface for the movement of civilizations between Africa, Asia and Europe. This project will adopt a mapping, sedimentological and volcanological approach to reconstruct the evolving sedimentary environments, which when coupled to a dating (40Ar/39Ar geochronology, cosmogenic isotope dating - 3He, 21Ne, 26Ar, 35Cl, 10Be) campaign will allow for linking of local climate evolution (e.g., multiple phases of glaciation, incision, quiescence) to the global changes in climate (through temporal correlation to the marine isotope stages and the ice core records).


IAPETUS DTP: http://www.iapetus.ac.uk

2. 40Ar/39Ar dating the evolution of latest Cretaceous dwarf dinosaurs from Transylvania (western Romania) and implications for the K-Pg extinction (funded by the E3 NERC DTP).
One of the largest extinctions in Earth history occurred at the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary (c. 66 million years ago), when an asteroid impact, Deccan Trap volcanism and associated environmental changed wiped out the non-bird dinosaurs and many other organisms. Most information on the causes, tempo and selectivity of the extinction in the continental realm comes from one part of the world; western North America, which boasts an excellent cross-boundary fossil record. However, in recent years, Europe has emerged as another potentially significant source of data regarding the extinction, but fully harvesting it hinges on the precise dating of the fossil record. Romania, with its remarkable fauna of dwarf dinosaurs, endemic primitive mammals, archaic crocodyliforms and giant pterosaurs that once lived on a tropical island along the northern margin of the Neo-Tethys, holds promise as its dinosaur-bearing continental deposits are interbedded with volcanic rocks (tuffs, lava flows) that are suitable for high-precision radio-isotopic dating.


E3 DTP: http://e3dtp.geos.ed.ac.uk

3. Super-eruptions: what do they do and when do they do it? (funded by the E3 NERC DTP).
Large explosive caldera-forming volcanic events, known as 'super-eruptions', are one of the greatest geological threats to mankind. A super-eruption releases within hours to days more energy than any other naturally occurring terrestrial phenomena. Although super-eruptions have not been directly observed and described in modern times, from the study of the geological record they are thought to erupt hundreds or even thousands of cubic kilometres of magma over days or weeks. As the ultimate goal of volcanological research is to anticipate better the timing and impact of volcanic eruptions on civilization it is critical that we understand the time-size distribution of super-eruptions as well as the magmatic processes that control magma residence and trigger the evacuation of vast amounts of magma from relatively shallow crustal reservoirs. Such information is essential to provide the most important first step in determining both long- and short-term volcanic hazard. Long-term hazards relate to eruption frequency whereas short-term hazards relate to variance in behaviour of a volcanic system during the course of a single eruption. For so called 'super-eruptions' no individual studies have produced sufficient robust quantitative data to facilitate interrogation of the magmatic processes that control repose interval, eruptive style, duration and intensity. This project aims to plug gaps in our fundamental understanding of super-volcanoes and the magmatic processes that control magma recharge, magma storage, accumulation of super-eruption volumes of magma as well as eruption frequency and eruption triggers.


E3 DTP: http://e3dtp.geos.ed.ac.uk

Specifics concerning the application process can be found at the links above to the specific DTP websites. Please contact Professor Mark for further details of each project (Darren.mark@glasgow.ac.uk)

Deadline: 19th January 2018

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