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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research Group: Geochemistry

Currently Active: 

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.

Our diverse research activity 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.
Hyperalkaline spring, Oman ophiolite.
Hyperalkaline spring, Oman ophiolite. Credit: Damon Teagle

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

  • Volcanoes are the points at the surface where material is exchanged between the inner Earth and the world we live in

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

  • The accretion of new crust at the mid-ocean ridges is the foundation process of the plate tectonic cycle

Medical Geochemistry

  • Geochemistry can play a valuable role in the study of environmental health issues

Geochemical Ecology

  • The geochemical ecology (Southampton University Marine Isotopes and Ecology SUMIE) group use natural chemical markers contained in the tissues of animals to track the flow of nutrients within food webs and the movement of animals across geochemical gradients.

Carbon Storage and Geoengineering

  • We are working to find solutions to reducing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. These include storage in conventional (depleted oil and gas reservoirs, deep saline aquifers) and unconventional (basalts, mantle peridotites, enhanced weathering) geological reservoirs.

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: Dr Juerg Matter

The Geochemistry Group is equipped with a world-class range of analytical equipment and associated laboratories. The instruments and techniques available can be applied to a diverse range of applications including environmental, geological, nuclear, medical, archaeological and oceanographic. The facility is used for a wide range of research purposes and also for commercial analysis, examples of the type of commercial work we can under take are given here.

The facilities available are briefly described below and further details are available on each by clicking on the links.

For initial enquiries about our capability or using the facilities contact Dr. J. Andy Milton

Quadrupole ICP-MS: Thermo X-SERIES 2

This instrument is used for high-throughput elemental analysis via solution or solid sample introduction using the laser.

High Resolution ICP-MS: Thermo ELEMENT 2XR

This is a high-sensitivity elemental and isotopic analysis instrument for solution or solid samples using the laser. It is particularly suited to difficult matrix and problematic elemental analyses.

Multi-collector ICP-MS: Thermo NEPTUNE

We have two of these high-sensitivity isotope analysis instruments allowing analysis of solutions or solid samples using the laser. Currently measuring the following systems: Li, B, Cr, Fe, Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf, U, U-Pb, U-Th and Pu.

Thermal Ionisation: Thermo TRITON

This instrument provides high precision isotope analysis on samples that have been loaded onto a metal filament. Currently measuring the following systems: Sr, Nd, Pb.

Laser Ablation: New Wave UP193FX

This laser system is used for micro-sampling of solid samples it can be coupled to any ICP-MS systems above.

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 prior to analysis.

Commercial Sample Analysis

The Geochemistry group is able to help you analyse your samples.

GAU-Radioanalytical (GAU)

Specialist analytical facilities.

PhD Project Titles

Seafloor or uplift-related serpentinization of the Troodos Massif, Cyprus
Damon Teagle, Martin Palmer, Rachael James, Dave Craw (Otago, New Zealand).

The role of CO2 in Plio-Pleistocene climate change; revealed by orbital resolution boron isotope records
Gavin Foster, Paul Wilson, Eelco Rohling (ANU, Australia), Ian Bailey (U. Exeter)

Boron isotopes as tracers of igneous processes during collisional tectonics
Martin Palmer, Gavin Foster, Rex Taylor

Exploring the metabolic responses of marine fishes to climate change using stable carbon isotope composition of otoliths
Clive Trueman, Ewan Hunter (CEFAS), Audrey Darnaude (U. Montpellier)

Geological and oceanographic controls on the variation in concentration of E-tech elements (REE, cobalt and tellurium) in seafloor Fe-Mn crusts
Bramley Murton, Christopher Pearce, Paul Lusty (BGS)

Unlocking the history of sea surface temperature using SST-proxies in corals from the Belize Barrier Reef
Gavin Foster, Elizabeth Kent, David Berry

Habitat mapping, physical characterisation and paleoevolution of two contrasting Deep-Water Coral Mound Provinces in the Mediterranean
Claudio Lo Iacono, Veerle Huvenne, Gavin Foster, Eleni Anagnostou

Squaring the oceanic iron cycle using iron isotopes
Rachael James, Doug Connelly, Maeve Lohan, Alessandro Tagliabue (U. of Liverpool)

Glacial ocean circulation and the last great tipping point in Earth’s palaeoclimate history
Paul Wilson, Ian Bailey (U. Exeter), Gavin Foster, Kevin Oliver

Finding Earth’s thermostat: Testing the relationship between global climate, silicate weathering and marine carbonate production
Christopher Pearce, Steve Bohaty, Paul Wilson

Development of a low cost, high performance sensor for methane measurements in seawater
Socratis Loucaides, Matt Mowlem, Doug Connelly

Elemental partitioning and fractionation constraints on carbonate mineralisation within the oceanic crust
Christopher Pearce, Gavin Foster, Damon Teagle, Rosalind Coggon

What controls deep-sea manganese nodule formation?
Rachel Mills, Doug Connelly, Mikhail Zubkov

Coupled geophysical, geomechanical and geochemical monitoring of carbon capture and storage (CCS) reservoirs
Ismael Falcon-Suarez, Anna Lichtschlag, Angus Best, Rachael James

Simulating the hydrothermal alteration of the oceanic crust
Ros Coggon, Mathis Hain, Damon Teagle, Richard Herrington (Natural History Museum)

Testing the “Iron Hypothesis” and determining the causes of glacial-interglacial CO2 change
Gavin Foster, Mathis Hain, Jessica Whiteside

MarinE-tech: Geological effects of seamount volcanism, evolution and subsidence on the resource potential of seafloor Fe-Mn deposits
Bramley Murton, Tim Le Bas, Alan Evans

Scandium pathways and sinks in geological systems: Implications for future recoveries for high-tech industry
Steve Roberts, Richard Herrington (Natural History Museum), Chris Hartley (Bloom Energy)

The evolution of ENSO in the Tropical South Pacific: a high resolution study using laminated lake sediments from Vanuatu and the Cook Islands
Ian Croudace, David Sear, Pete Langdon

Carbon isotopes along GEOTRACES sections: anthropogenic and biological signals
Doug Connelly, Eric Achterberg (U. Bremen)


List of related projects to Geochemistry
Related ProjectsStatus
When will 1.5°C of warming occur, and what will the consequences be? (ADJUST1.5)Active
A journey from icehouse to greenhouse and back again...a story of Antarctic ice sheet stability and CO2Active
Abrupt Ocean Acidification EventsActive
Assessment of Sorbent Materials for the Remediation of Radionuclide Contaminated GroundwaterActive
Critical Metals in Porphyry Copper DepositsActive
Collisional magmatismActive
Deep Fault Drilling: a journey through an active plate boundaryActive
Descent into the IcehouseActive
DETECT: Destabilisation of the Terrestrial Biosphere in Warm ClimatesActive
Development of a volcano – Tracking the evolution of Montserrat, Lesser Antilles. Active
Discovering salmon feeding grounds using fish scalesActive
Fluid flow associated with the Alpine Fault, South Island, New ZealandActive
From icebergs to ice sheets; provenance of ice rafted sedimentsActive
Geological storage of CO2 into oceanic crustActive
GAU-Radioanalytical LaboratoriesActive
Hydrothermal Vent Geochemistry South of the Antarctic Polar FrontActive
Hydrothermal vents on the world’s deepest seafloor spreading centreActive
Igneous Reservoirs: Controls on Porosity and PermeabilityActive
Iron Isotopes in seawater samplesActive
Macronutrient behaviour in estuarine systemsActive
Marine sediment tephraActive
Marine diagenesis of tephra and the carbon cycleActive
Measurement of 135Cs/137Cs in environmental samplesActive
Mission MoHole, A Journey into the Mantle.Active
Mountains Metamorphism and Element MobilityActive
Movement patterns in pelagic sharks: stable isotope evidenceActive
Nanoparticles and associated metals in landfill leachatesActive
Nuclear Forensics: Determining the origin of uranium ores from geochemical signaturesActive
Nutrient flow and ecosystem structure in marine fish communitiesActive
Oman Drilling ProjectActive
Ontogenetic movement and larval survival in North Sea Herring: A stable isotope approachActive
Phosphorus replacement in diatom lipids: Quantification of phospholipids and non-phosphorus lipidsActive
PISTON: Does Developmental Plasticity Influence Speciation?Active
Rare earth elements as geochemical tracers of hydrothermal processes in the Southern OceanActive
Resolving past changes in ocean oxygenationActive
Ridge flank hydrothermal circulation: Juan de Fuca Ridge FlankActive
RiftVolc - Rift Volcanism: Past, Present and FutureActive
Role of Ocean Biogeochemical Reorganisation in the Intensification of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation Active
Superfast spread crust, deep drilling at IODP Site 1256Active
The Accretion of Lower Oceanic CrustActive
The Potential Health Effects of Transition Metals in Particulate Air PollutionActive
TRANSCEND – Transformative Science and Engineering for Nuclear DecommissioningActive
TRANSPLAS – Developing a Transnational Plastics NetworkActive
Transport of toxic metals in clay landfill linings: influence of nanoparticlesActive
Trophic and Spacial Ecology of Marine PredatorsActive
Understanding changes in Cenozoic carbonate chemistryActive
Biogeography of deepwater chemosynthetic ecosystems (ChEss) - DormantDormant
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