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How hot was the Jurassic Greenhouse climate?

   School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

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  Prof Gregory Price, Dr Rhodri Jerrett, Prof Paul Dennis, Dr Alina Marca  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP

Applications are invited for a 3.5 years PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 01 October 2023.

Project Description

Scientific background

Examination of warm intervals in Earth's history help develop insight into the behavior of the climate system under elevated carbon dioxide and temperature. One such interval is the Jurassic which sees atmospheric CO2 concentrations close to current concentrations of ∼400 ppm or higher. A significant feature of this warmer world was the presence of large epicontinental seaways such as the Middle-Late Jurassic Sundance Sea of North America (e.g. Danise et al. 2020). At its greatest extent the Sundance Sea stretched from Utah to the Arctic Ocean. These large epicontinental seaways are the dominant source for much of our information about ancient marine climates and biodiversity. There is, however, growing evidence that these seaways are often decoupled from open-ocean conditions because of variations in water mass, depth, salinity, and stratification and being a loci of anoxia. Hence, understanding these systems is critical to reconstruct the role epicontinental seaways play in terms of ocean circulation, carbon cycling, and climate amelioration.

Research methodology

This research will investigate key sites within the Sundance Sea, in the USA and Canada. Using stable isotopes and clumped isotopes biogenic carbonate samples derived from fieldwork, will be analysed to reconstruct temperature and carbon cycling at unprecedented spatial resolution. The carbonate clumped isotope thermometer is a valuable tool for reconstructing temperatures in epicontinental settings due to its independence from the isotopic composition of the water from which a carbonate precipitates (Price et al. 2019; Vickers et al. 2019; Bajnai et al. 2020; Paxton et al. 2020). Analytical techniques will be used to evaluate the geochemical character and biogenic preservation (e.g., Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectrometer (ICP-AES) and the cathodoluminescence petrography.


The student will receive specialist training in fieldwork and sequence stratigraphy utilising Plymouth/Manchester expertise. In world class laboratory facilities in Plymouth, the student will receive comprehensive training in clean handling, training in isotope geochemistry, cathodoluminescence petrography and other analytical techniques (e.g. ICP-AES) and clumped isotopes (at UEA)


  1. Bajnai, D., Guo, W., Löffler, N., Methner, K., Krsnik, E., Coplen, T.B., Gischle, E., Henkel, D., Price, G.D., Raddatz J., Fiebig, J. 2020 Coupled clumped isotope thermometry reveals unbiased carbonate formation temperatures. Nature Communications 11(1):4005
  2. Price, G.D., Bajnai D., and Fiebig, J. 2020 Latitudinal seawater temperature gradients and the oxygen isotope composition of Early Cretaceous seas. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109777
  3. Danise, S., Price, G.D., Alberti, M., Holland S.M. 2020 Isotopic evidence for partial geochemical decoupling between a Jurassic epicontinental sea and the open ocean. Gondwana Research, 82, 97–107.
  4. Vickers, M.L., Bajnai, D., Price, G.D., Linckens, J. and Fiebig, J. 2019. Southern high-latitude warmth during the Jurassic–Cretaceous: New evidence from clumped isotope thermometry. Geology, 47, 724–728.
  5. Paxton, R.B., Dennis, PF; Marca, A.D., Hendry J.P., Hudson, J.D., Andrews, J.E. 2021 Taking the heat out of British Jurassic septarian concretions Depositional Record 7, 333-343.

Person Specification

We are looking for a highly self-motivated graduate with a BSc degree in Earth Sciences. You will be inquisitive, enjoy problem-solving with a genuine passion for geosciences.

Funding Notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1 October 2023.

Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship for 3.5 years, covering fees, stipend (£17,668 p.a. for 2022-23 rate) and research funding. International applicants (EU and non-EU) are eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships.

ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and £2,500 for external training, travel and conferences.

ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience. Our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience.

For information and full eligibility visit https://www.aries-dtp.ac.uk/


To apply for this position please visit here and select the studentship you would like to apply for. Please clearly state the name of the studentship project code PRICE_P23ARIES that you are applying for on your personal statement.

Please see here for a list of supporting documents to upload with your application.

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Gregory Price, [Email Address Removed]

For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact [Email Address Removed].

The closing date for applications is 23:59 (UK Time) 11 January 2023. 

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