The Earth Science Research Theme has three sub-themes:
Rock deposits, their fluids (particularly hydrocarbons) and biota of sedimentary basins are the focus of the Basin Fill group. We study modern and ancient sedimentary systems to understand Earth surface and shallow-Earth processes through deep time via quantitative predictive models. Highlights include approaches to understanding controls on sediment accumulation and dispersal from continental to deep water systems; high resolution climatic reconstructions for key periods of environmental and atmospheric change; reconstruction of shallow crustal stress history and shallow hazard potential through sediment burial and remobilisation. Work has been variously funded by NERC, STB and industrial partnerships.
Earth Surface Processes
This sub-theme focuses on glacial and hydrological systems. NERC-funded research on climate and ice sheet dynamics has shown that mass loss and thinning is caused by changes in ocean temperatures preconditioned by the geological setting rather than atmospheric forcing. Research on glacial reconstruction has examined the geomorphological signatures of ice sheet dynamics using landform analyses and modelling. Hydrological research focuses on the application of advanced tracing and tracer-aided modelling in the characterisation of hydrological systems. In addition, current work focuses on the ecohydrology of headwater catchments. Funding from NERC, EU, Leverhulme Trust and water management agencies.
Tectonics and Geophysics
We examine tectonics and structure, notably the tectonic influence on sedimentary systems and the dynamics of lithosphere deformation, and how sedimentary basins are formed and deformed. We study deformation processes across a wide range of scales, from intra-granular to lithospheric, using data and observations from outcrop alongside geophysical imagery of the subsurface. Building on Aberdeen's expertise in the interpretation of seismic reflection surveys, the group is developing strength in passive seismology to image deformation and the integration of this into tectonic deformation models.