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High-resolution mapping of heavy metal pollution in soils in the Pearl River Delta, China, from combined magnetic, geochemical and GIS approaches

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  • Full or part time
    Prof B Maher
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

PhD Studentship & Secondment in China under the SEW-REAP Programme

The heavy metal content in soils in China, whether arising from industrial or natural sources, presents a major environmental challenge at the present day and one that, via agriculture and water, has significant implications for food safety and security. Guangdong province in south China, centred on the Pearl River Delta, is a leading region of the country regarding both industry and agriculture. In combination with more costly and time-consuming geochemical analyses, magnetic mineral analysis can be used to quantify heavy metal concentrations in soils. Because the magnetic measurements can be made quickly, and non-destructively, 1000s of samples can feasibly be processed, and their magnetic data ‘inter-calibrated’ with conventional geochemical analyses (on 10s/100s of samples). The magnetic data can thus newly provide quantitative heavy metal information at unprecedentedly high spatial resolution. The strategic importance of such high-resolution data is that they provide the basis for understanding and mitigating soil pollution through site-appropriate formulation of soil improvement strategies.

Further Information:

Academic requirements: First-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree or Masters degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject.

Deadline for applications: 31 January 2016

Provisional Interview Date: [tbc] Mid February 2016

Start Date: April 2016 or October 2016

For further information or informal discussion about the position, please contact Professor Barbara Maher ([Email Address Removed])

Application process: Please upload a completed application form (download from outlining your background and suitability for this project and a CV at LEC Postgraduate Research Applications,

You also require two references, please send the reference form (download from to your two referees and ask them to email it to Andy Harrod ([Email Address Removed]), Postgraduate Research (PGR) Co-ordinator, Lancaster Environment Centre by the deadline.

Due to the limited time between the closing date and the interview date, it is essential that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.

Funding Notes

A 2-year studentship from the EuropeAid SEW-REAP programme. This provides approximately £1200 per month (tax free) while you are based in China, which must also cover flights to China and Chinese language tuition. You will need to pay your own UK/EU tuition fees for the duration of your PhD, see However, applicants will be strongly encouraged and supported in applying for further funding that is available to visiting students at Chinese Academy of Sciences institutes. These CAS University scholarships are both generous and prestigious while chances of success are comparatively high. Unfortunately studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants.

How good is research at Lancaster University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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