Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research Group: Geochemistry

Geochemistry comprises more than 30 researchers and postgraduate students who apply state-of-the-art geochemical analysis and modelling to scientific questions of major societal, economic and environmental importance.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Our diverse research activicty can be broadly divided into 8 themes. Click the theme title for more information.

Past Present and Future Environmental Change

  • We aim to achieve a better understanding of the major geochemical cycles of the Earth System and the impact of humanities action upon them. Our work also focuses on the reconstruction of the climate of the past to better understand the drivers of natural climate and environmental change.

Environmental Geochemistry and Radioactivity

  • Research into how we interact with our environment and its impact on us
  • Encompasses specialist radioanalytical research and specialist services offered by our Industrial Advisory Unit, GAU-Radioanalytical

Volcanic Processes

Hydrothermal Processes and Mineral Deposits

  • Hydrothermal processes represent one of the major mechanisms for chemical and heat transfer on Earth. They have a profound influence on ocean chemistry and they play host to unique ecosystems. In addition many of the world's most important resources are sourced from deposits that formed as a result of hydrothermal activity.

Formation and Evolution of the Ocean Crust

Medical Geochemistry

Geochemical Ecology

Carbon Storage and Geoengineering

Our strengths include:

  • ultra-low level trace element analyses
  • radiogenic isotope geochemistry and geochronology
  • fluid and volatile analysis
  • environmental radiochemistry
  • geochemical ecology and biominerals
  • speciation and reaction modelling
  • analytical technique development and refinement

Contact: Professor Martin Palmer


Selected publications associated with this group from the University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints):


Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group:

Testing ice sheet models and modelled estimates of Earth’s climate sensitivity using Miocene palaeoclimate data

Development of Robust Automated Techniques for Radionuclide Separation

Geosciences Advisory Unit (GAU)

Igneous Reservoirs: Controls on Porosity and Permeability

Aluminium distributions in the Atlantic Ocean

Ridge flank hydrothermal circulation: Juan de Fuca Ridge Flank

Rare earth elements as geochemical tracers of hydrothermal processes in the Southern Ocean

Fluid flow associated with the Alpine Fault, South Island, New Zealand

Biogeochemical cycling in hydrothermal settings south of the Antarctic Polar Front

The Potential Health Effects of Transition Metals in Particulate Air Pollution

Ontogenetic movement and larval survival in North Sea Herring: A stable isotope approach

Macronutrient behaviour in estuarine systems

Abrupt Ocean Acidification Events

Timing, Causes and Consequences of the Decline in Pliocene pCO2

Discovering salmon feeding grounds using fish scales

Deep Fault Drilling: a journey through an active plate boundary

Mission MoHole, A Journey into the Mantle.

Past and Present Ocean Acidification

Hydrothermal vents on the world’s deepest seafloor spreading centre

Assessment of Sorbent Materials for the Remediation of Radionuclide Contaminated Groundwater

Movement patterns in pelagic sharks: stable isotope evidence

Oman Drilling Program

Marine diagenesis of tephra and the carbon cycle

The Accretion of Lower Oceanic Crust

Transport of toxic metals in clay landfill linings: influence of nanoparticles.

Phosphorus replacement in diatom lipids: Quantification of phospholipids and non-phosphorus lipids.

Coupled change in global climate and the carbon cycle across the Eocene-Oligocene transition: New insight from the Pacific Ocean, IODP Exp 320

Biominerals Diagenisis and Palaeoproxies

From icebergs to ice sheets; provenance of ice rafted sediments

Geochemistry of fish otoliths

Measurement of 135Cs/137Cs in environmental samples

Resolving past changes in ocean oxygenation

Micronutrient inputs from sediments to seawater

Biogeography of deepwater chemosynthetic ecosystems (ChEss) - Dormant

Waste reduction and recycling in nuclear decommissioning

Where did all the CO2 go? Insights from boron isotopes in deep-sea corals

Molecular responces to metal stress at hydrothermal vents

Nuclear Forensics: Determining the origin of uranium ores from geochemical signatures.

Carbon isotopes in otoliths: a new palaeoecological proxy?

Triggering of major volcanic eruptions recorded by cumulates

X-ray core scanners as a novel environmental forensic tool

Measurement of Neptunium-237 and its application to environmental studies

Role of Ocean Biogeochemical Reorganisation in the Intensification of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation

Descent into the Icehouse

A 4.3 million year record of arc volcanism in the Caribbean

Hydrothermal Vent Geochemistry South of the Antarctic Polar Front

Superfast spread crust, deep drilling at IODP Site 1256

Advancing low level radionuclide analysis using HR-Sector Field ICP-MS: bioassay applications

Calcium carbonate veins as recorders of past ocean chemistry

Critical Metals in Porphyry Copper Deposits

Mountains Metamorphism and Element Mobility

Evolution of Modern Marine Ecosystems

The nature and extent of seafloor basement weathering within the South Pacific Gyre

Iron Isotopes in seawater samples

A journey from icehouse to greenhouse and back again...a story of Antarctic ice sheet stability and CO2

Nanoparticles and associated metals in landfill leachates

North vs South? What’s filling the Atlantic?

Nutrient flow and ecosystem structure in marine fish communities

Geological storage of CO2 into oceanic crust

How hot will it get? Insights from the climates of the past

Development of a volcano – Tracking the evolution of Montserrat, Lesser Antilles.

Shark and other fish eye lenses – a window to cryptic life history behaviours.

Trophic and Spacial Ecology of Marine Predators

Methane Seepage from the Arctic Seafloor

Understanding changes in Cenozoic carbonate chemistry


The Geochemistry group is equipped with a world-class range of analytical equipment and associated facilities housed in a purpose built laboratory.

This facility is used for a wide range of research purposes. We also undertake commercial analyses.

For initial enquiries about our capability or using the facilities contact Dr. J. Andy Milton, or for more online information please visit our facilites page here.

Quadrupole ICP-MS: Thermo X-SERIES 2

High-throughput elemental analysis via solution or solid sample introduction

High Resolution ICP-MS: Thermo ELEMENT 2XR

High-sensitivity elemental and isotopic analysis via solution or solid sample introduction. Particularly suited to difficult matrix and problematic elemental analyses.

Multi-collector ICP-MS: Thermo NEPTUNE

High-sensitivity isotope analyses via solution or solid sample introduction. Currently measuring the following systems: Li, B, Cr, Fe, Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf, U, U-Pb, U-Th and Pu.

Thermal Ionisation: Thermo TRITON and VG Sector 54

Filament-sourced high precision isotope analysis. Currently measuring the following systems: B, Sr, Nd, Sm-Nd, Pb.

Laser Ablation: New Wave UP193FX

Solid micro-sampling. Can be coupled to any ICP-MS system.

Micro drill: New Wave Micromill

For preparing micro-sized samples for subsequent analysis.

Clean Chemistry Laboratories

A suite of Class 100 chemistry labs for sample preparation.


Specialist analytical facilities