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Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Understanding the Fingerprints of Large Igneous Provinces in the Sedimentary Record

University of Oxford - Department of Earth Sciences

Location: Oxford
Salary: £32,236 to £39,609 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 14th June 2019
Closes: 14th August 2019
Job Ref: 141255

The department seeks to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Assistant to work under the direction of Professor Tamsin Mather (University of Oxford) to further our understanding of the traces left by large igneous provinces (LIPs) in the sedimentary record. The role will have a specific focus on the element mercury (Hg) that has received widespread recent attention. This post is part of the ERC-funded ‘Revealing hidden volcanic triggers for global environmental change events in Earth’s geological past using mercury (Hg) (V-ECHO)’ project, whose principal aim is to understand the role of prolonged large-scale volcanism in periods of major environmental change throughout Earth’s geological past. The PDRA will contribute to an improved understanding of the environmental processing of volcanic-related emissions between outgassing and deposition and their chemistry within the sediments themselves. This approach will allow us to unlock more information from these volcanic proxies and elucidate the interplay between LIP volcanism and global environmental change.

The researcher will be responsible for undertaking measurements on a series of carbon-isotope excursion events and other records of major environmental change throughout the geological record in order to understand the role of LIP volcanism in triggering such changes. These measurements will include: Hg concentrations, total organic carbon (TOC) and C isotopes (in Oxford with Tamsin Mather and Hugh Jenkyns); Os isotopes (at Royal Holloway University of London with Alex Dickson); Hg-isotope measurements (at the University of Toronto with Bridget Bergquist) and exploratory development of techniques such as sequential extraction and synchrotron measurements to improve understanding of Hg processing and preservation. The PDRA will also work with Nick Tosca at the University of Oxford to undertake low-temperature experiments in the aqueous geochemistry laboratory followed by analyses to understand key, but poorly understood, diagenetic pathways of Hg in seawater both in Mesozoic oceans and under the ‘ferruginous conditions’ thought to characterize the marine environment during much of the Precambrian.

Candidates must hold or be close to completion of a PhD/DPhil in a relevant field, have experience of generating and interpreting carbon-isotope excursions and/or other geochemical signatures of major environmental change encoded in the stratigraphic record, together with an appreciation of the syn- and post-depositional processes potentially surrounding the far-field sedimentary fingerprints of LIPs. The project involves collaborations with other UK and international institutions. Experience working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, networking and setting up new contacts is required. Furthermore, the successful candidate must be able to manage their own research and administrative activities, lead and report on an independent research programme and have excellent written and oral communication skills. There is scope for the PDRA to undertake some teaching, either in taught courses, field courses, or in the supervision of Masters projects.

For further details of the post please see the further particulars. This post is full-time and fixed-term for up to 48 months. We wish to fill the post at the earliest opportunity.

Applications must be received by 12.00 noon on 9 September 2019. Our provisional date for interviews is Monday 30 September 2019.

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