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Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Supervisors: Alexander Liu (Earth Sciences) and Paulo Boggiani (Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto de Geociências, Departamento de Geologia Sedimentar e Ambiental) and Prof. Juliana de Moraes Leme (Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto de Geociências, Departamento de Geologia Sedimentar e Ambiental)

Importance of the area of research:

The Ediacaran Period (635-541 Ma) witnessed some of the greatest geological and evolutionary events in Earth history, including the rise of oxygen to modern levels, the diversification of animal life, global glaciation events, and large-scale continental readjustments. Determining the relationships between organisms and their local geochemical and environmental conditions is imperative if we are to understand the broader evolutionary factors at play in the development of macroscopic life. The late Ediacaran sedimentary successions of the Corumbá region, SW Brazil, offer a unique and relatively under-explored record of biological and geochemical evolution during this critical interval. This project will build upon recent geochronological, micropalaeontological and sedimentological studies to better characterize the biology and ecology of this succession, permitting its integration into global discussions of evolution during the Ediacaran Period.

Project summary:

This project will provide the first systematic palaeontological study of the lower Corumbá Group of the Corumbá region, Brazil. Recent dating indicates that the well-studied Tamengo and Guaicurus formations at the top of this sequence are younger than 555 Ma. This implies that the preceding Cerradinho, Cadieus and Bocaina formations are potentially of late Ediacaran age, and thus of relevance to discussions surrounding Ediacaran environmental change and evolution. Fieldwork will be undertaken to assess the facies and macro-palaeontology of these units, and to constrain basin history and evolution in one of South America’s best Ediacaran successions.

What the student will do:

The student will undertake two 4-6 week field seasons in the Corumbá region to map and explore units of the lower to middle Corumbá Group for palaeobiological and ichnological data. They will produce sedimentary logs of the section at multiple localities, and collect specimens for geochemical, petrological, and palaeontological analyses. Samples will be analyzed either at the University of Cambridge, or at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, where the student will spend at least one term under the supervision of Co-Supervisors Leme and Boggiani. Detailed studies into exemplary stromatolites in the Bocaina Formation may be included depending on student interest.

Please contact the lead supervisor directly for further information relating to what the successful applicant will be expected to do, training to be provided, and any specific educational background requirements.


Parry, L.A. et al. 2017. Ichnological evidence for meiofaunal bilaterians from the terminal Ediacaran and earliest Cambrian of Brazil. Nature Ecology & Evolution, doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0301-9

Misi, A., Kaufman, A. J., Veizer, J., Powis, K., Azmy, K., Boggiani, P. C., ... & Iyer, S. S. 2007. Chemostratigraphic correlation of Neoproterozoic successions in South America. Chemical Geology, vol. 237(1), pp. 143-167.

Walde, D.H., et al. 2015. New aspects of Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition in the Corumba¡ region (state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil). Annales de Palaeontologie, vol. 101, pp. 213-224.

Follow this link to find out about applying for this project.

Other projects available from the Lead Supervisor can be viewed here.

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