skip to content

Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Research in the departments of Earth Sciences and Geography, DAMTP and at BAS includes work on mineral physics, sedimentary and earth surface processes, geophysics, tectonics including earthquake hazards, mantle and core processes, volcanism and volcanic hazards.


This project will produce a geodynamic understanding of the formation of critical metal deposits, and so pave the way to replacing empirical prospecting methods with a process-based view of the physical and chemical evolution of the lithosphere.
This project will cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, and provide a new understanding of how the continental crust and upper mantle forms, deforms, and evolves, with direct relevance to earthquake hazards and the distribution of critical metals.
It is over 50 years since the first papers about plate tectonics were written, but we still lack an equivalent understanding of distributed continental deformation belts; this project will fill that gap.
Exploration of the role of strong heterogeneity that sits at the core-mantle boundary in mantle and outer core dynamiccs
The invasion of non-marine habitats by animal life was a complex, protracted process, and recent work has helped identify the timing of colonization by different organisms, with the Devonian period recognised as a key interval. Less well understood are broader questions such as when continental fauna began to comprise unique individuals and exhibit unique behaviours (as opposed to facies-crossing ‘marine invaders’) and the impact that these organisms had on physical sedimentary environments and sediment fabrics, and critical zone processes. This project will involve a forensic analysis of key Middle Devonian sites to address these issues.
This project will fill a significant knowledge gap regarding the chemical, physical and health impacts of volcanic sulfur dioxide plumes from intermediate-sized Icelandic eruptions on aircraft and on aircraft passengers in UK airspace, in collaboration with the Met Office.
This project will explore the potential for ground- and aerial vehicle-based measurements of carbon flux and isotopic composition to monitor volcanoes and forecast eruptive activity.
The 1868 eruption of Mauna Loa, Hawai'i erupted crystal-rich picrites whose geochemistry may be used to understand the plumbing system and eruption triggering process for eruptions at this hazardous volcano.
Large explosive volcanic eruptions cause substantial perturbation to ecosystems through tephra fall, but the effects and mechanisms are poorly understood, particularly for systems already stressed by anthropogenic factors.
Melts erupted at oceanic islands are diverse and provide key constraints on deep Earth proceses
Galapagos volcanoes emit a considerable amount of the global volcanic atmospheric SO2 flux but the origin of the sulfur is unknown
Forecasting earthquakes is currently an unattainable goal, but a particular class of earthquakes (slow slip events) might provide a more accessible challenge to tackle.
Near Fault Observatories (NFOs) provide abundant multiparametric data in tectonically active regions and offer a great opportunity to better understand the physical processes responsible for earthquakes
Exposure to fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) is the leading environmental contributor to the global burden of disease; use state-of-the-art magnetic and microscopy methods – at the intersection of environmental science and toxicology – to help answer why.
Be a part of the next revolution in magnetic imaging as we develop the first 3D nanomagnetic microscopy method for Fe-bearing samples.
This project is aimed at constraining the nature of the plumbing system feeding volcanoes, using entrained crystal enclaves and plutonic xenoliths erupted by the volcanoes of the Galapagos archipelago, and xenoliths associated with the Skaergaard intrusion of East Greenland
This project is focussed on the physical and chemical behaviour of unmixed immiscible Si-rich and Fe-rich liquids in a solidifying gabbro, using the Skaergaard intrusion of East Greenland as a natural laboratory
This project is focussed on the currently poorly understood physical and chemical behaviour of strongly bimodal magmatic systems using the Slieve Gullion Complex as an exemplar.
Carry out a cryptotephra study of the exquisitely laminated Lake Chala sediment record, aiming to improve regional chronologies for regional Late Pleistocene palaeoclimate, archaeological and volcanic studies.
Use biophonic, geophonic and anthropophonic signals in massive new seafloor datasets to study great whales’ environment and migration patterns and Earth dynamics.
Geophysical investigation of how the surprisingly strong lateral variations in the lithospheric structure of Britain and Ireland control their enigmatic seismicity, with important global inferences and applications.
Seismic tomography, the principal method of the Earth-interior imaging, has a clear current challenge—addressing it will increase the resolution in the poorly resolved deep upper mantle and bring important new discoveries on Earth structure and dynamics.
This project will use diffusion chronometry to constrain the timescales over which magmatic systems grow to supply large basaltic eruptions
This project aims at developing a new quantitative method for correlation of ice cores that will enable generating improved reconstructions of volcanism and solar forcing of the past 60,000 years.
The goal of this project is to combine advanced earthquake detection and location techniques together with seismic imaging methods to track melt migration and delineate melt storage regions beneath Askja Volcano in Iceland.
The goal of this project is to image the seismic structure beneath Borneo in order to constrain fundamental properties of its lithosphere, including crustal thickness, depth extent of the mantle lithosphere, and the presence of major anomalies associated with recent tectonic events.
A project to develop novel mathematical models of rock rheology, to better understand the migration of melt through the Earth's mantle.
This project will provide novel constraints on volcanism’s most important environmental forcing: its carbon flux to the atmosphere.
Magma moves through hundreds of kilometres of nearly solid rock to eventually erupt at Earth’s surface; this project will combine data science and theory to investigate how this occurs.
Constraining the Rare Earth Element (REE) geochemistry of seawater and sediments and how weathering, ocean chemistry, and climate changed their cycling on geological timescales
Clays are a major archive of Earth history. Few studies combine the detailed field understanding with geochemistry to be able to fully exploit such an archive. This project will do exactly that over key areas of geological time.
This project will develop new models for transient creep of geological materials based on high-temperature deformation experiments and microstructural observations.
Rather amazingly, seismic reflection (i.e. acoustic) profiling can be used to image circulation of the oceans: a whole new subject has opened up with fabulous implications for how oceans evolve and affect climate!
What could be of more fundamental importance than understanding how mantle dynamics affects the Earth's surface through space and time!
An innovative and exciting project which will explore the relationship between long-term climate and mantle convection.
An imaginative and exciting project that combines the study of sedimentary and igneous rocks, Icelandic mantle plume dynamics and linked climate change, all with a strongly expeditionary flavour!
Landscape, palaeoclimate and volcanism are sculpted and controlled in profound ways by mantle dynamics. It is now time to explore how this newly developed understanding can be applied to Carboniferous times when enormous biological and climatological upheavals took place on Earth.
Can we use new isotope tracers to understand how the critical rare earth element (REE) deposits associated with alkaline and carbonatitic magmas form?