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Carbon emissions from the Karoo-Ferrar large igneous province

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 10, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Many of the most severe climate ‘events’ and carbon cycle perturbations of the Meso-Cenozoic coincide with major episodes of volcanism linked to Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs). One of the most extreme examples is the end-Toarcian oceanic anoxic event, a global climate change event which roughly coincides with the emplacement of the Karoo and Ferrar large igneous provinces (located today in South Africa and Antarctica, respectively). LIPs like Karoo and Ferrar supply carbon-based greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by two main mechanisms: 1) Carbon dioxide, released from both intruded and erupted magma and 2) Thermogenic methane, formed when shallow igneous sills intrude organic matter-rich sedimentary rock, and emitted via hydrothermal vents. But the quantity, relative timing, and rates of carbon emissions from the Karoo-Ferrar province are poorly known because we lack information both about the intrusive volcanism itself and the chemical composition of the host rock into which it intruded. Was this volcanism truly sufficient to drive the dramatic climate perturbation of the Toarcian OAE? Or was the volcanic carbon release relatively minor or simply too slow to explain Toarcian climate observations?

This PhD project will combine fieldwork, lab geochemistry, and literature/database assimilation to constrain the carbon emissions from the Karoo-Ferrar province. This will include traditional field geology and collection of structural information on the ground in Karoo, as well as seismic and/or satellite interpretation of sill dimensions for Karoo and/or Ferrar provinces.

Funding Notes

CENTA studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In addition to the full payment of their tuition fees, successful candidates will receive the following financial support.
• Annual stipend, set at £15,009 for 2019/20
• Research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000


Jones, S.M., Hoggett, M., Greene, S.E., and Dunkley Jones, T. (in press). ‘Large Igneous Province thermogenic greenhouse gas flux could have initiated Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum climate change’, Nature Communications.
Cohen et al., 2007. The Late Palaeocene–Early Eocene and Toarcian (Early Jurassic) carbon isotope excursions: a comparison of their time scales, associated environmental changes, causes and consequences. Journal of the Geological Society, 164, p. 1093-1108.
Percival et al., 2015. Globally enhanced mercury deposition during the end-Pliensbachian extinction and Toarcian OAE: A link to the Karoo–Ferrar Large Igneous Province. EPSL, 428, p. 267-280.

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