Dr Katie Maier, NIWA, New Zealand
Professor Daniel Conley, School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth
Turbidity currents are the equivalent of underwater avalanches – rapid, sediment-rich bodies of water that flow down-slope. They occur globally and transport the greatest volumes of sediment on the planet . They are frequent, powerful and destructive events that, like other seafloor processes, can destroy seafloor equipment and lead to significant seafloor changes [1,2,3]. They transport organic carbon and pollutants offshore, affecting ecosystems and climate [1,4]. A major challenge is understanding what causes turbidity currents as we cannot predict when and where they will occur . It is logistically challenging making direct measurements in the deep ocean so very few turbidity currents have been measured directly [1,4]. The goal of this PhD is to better understand the causes and future risks of seafloor processes such as Antarctic turbidity currents, their role in the global carbon cycle, and how they will respond to future climatic change. This will provide crucial scientific advances with environmental, societal and economic implications.
You will use novel and multidisciplinary approaches to combine direct measurements of seafloor processes such as turbidity currents from oceanographic moorings deployed in Antarctic submarine canyons, with past records from Antarctic sediment cores recovered during International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 374 (https://iodp.tamu.edu/scienceops/expeditions/ross_sea_ice_sheet_history.html). You will use geophysical and paleo-climate data to understand turbidity current behaviour and response to past climatic changes over millennial-timescales allowing risks posed by future climatic changes to be assessed.
The multidisciplinary project will provide training in physical oceanography, geophysical and sedimentological data analysis. You will have the opportunity to participate in a research placement at NIWA, New Zealand to collaborate with expert scientists and learn to integrate multidisciplinary datasets. You will join the international IODP Expedition 374 team and collaborate with scientists from a range of global institutions. You will become an active member of the internationally recognised University of Plymouth Coastal Processes Research Group. The project will equip you for a career in geophysical/ocean research, the hydrographic industry and consultancy.
We seek an enthusiastic individual with an Earth/Ocean Science-related degree with good numerical skills.