School of GeoSciences Research

Dynamic Earth systems

We aim to understand fundamental Earth and planetary processes and their role in complex Earth systems.

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Our work ranges from micron-scale geochemical analysis of seawater and extreme high pressure and temperature experiments of the deep Earth to planetary-scale geophysical processes of geomagnetic activity, climate dynamics and the composition and dynamics of exoplanet atmospheres.

Did you know?

  • We have quantified how climate change is affecting our planet, including influencing extreme events, the impact of regional aerosol emissions on monsoons, and changes in the tropospheric ozone.  From our observations, we have predicted decreased lightening due to climate change and constrained future warming and precipitation change.  We are also analysing ways in which our planet's rivers, hillslopes and basins are responding to environmental change and predicted its impacts on the nitrogen cycle.
  • We have used ice-penetrating radar to image an area the size of London beneath West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier, discovering diverse subglacial landscapes that control ice flow. Using novel space-borne altimetric data, we have discovered ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea Sector melting strongly across narrow sectors that are a key constraint for ice shelf and ice sheet stability.
  • By comparing experimental and global seismological results, we demonstrated for the first time that oxygen is not a major impurity in the Earth's core.  
  • We also developed the first 'Interrogation theory', which is a general method of evidence-based investigation to infer the dynamics of the Earth's subsurface, elicit expert information and guide autonomous planetary exploration.
  • We established for the first time that an ocean acidification event coincided with the biggest known mass extinction. 
  • We also showed through statistical analysis of fossil records and CT imaging that dinosaurs went extinct abruptly and were quickly replaced by placental mammals evolving from small-brained precursors.
  • We recreated subsurface reservoir conditions for the first time to a depth of 2.5km.  This was achieved through a combination of modelling expertise and our globally-unique experimental 'Geo-Resevoir' cell technology (known as the GREAT Cell').
  • We are improving our understanding and management of marine environments. For example, we have proved that climate forcing is linked to a weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (the large system of ocean currents that carry warm water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic) over the last 150 years.
  • Our involvement in the ATLAS project has transformed our understanding of North Atlantic deep-sea biodiversity, including over 12 new species.  

Want to know more?

We've provided some useful links for you.  To see the information, simply click on each heading below:

We’re standing at a new frontier of discovery, and if anything, our projections are telling us the future remains uncertain, and there are still a lot of questions to answer.

But what we do know is that the leaps we’ve made during the past decade have contributed to a much higher degree of public and political understanding about the possible futures we could have if we do nothing. If there were ever a moment to act, it is now.

Dr Noel GourmelenSchool of GeoSciences