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QUADRAT DTP: PALLADIA: ParAíba do suL deLtA seDImentary dynAmics

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 22, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Approximately half a billion people live on or near deltas, often in megacities with deltas understood as sensitive environments under pressure. In addition to the impacts (floods) and different types of marine impacts (waves and storm surges), they are also highly vulnerable to sea level rise and anthropogenic forces. The result of increased human activity has seen these environments and their populations under a growing risk of coastal flooding, wetland loss, shoreline retreat and infrastructure loss. The human influence on deltas has led to greater awareness and commitment for conservation with the goal of preserving and protecting rivers and coasts. The Paraíba do Sul Deltaic Complex (PSDC) is a large Quaternary coastal plain consisting of a wave-dominated delta located along Rio de Janeiro’s northern coast and forms part of the onshore portion of Campos Basin. Studies of the PSDC have focussed on paleoenvironmental reconstructions which have led to divergent interpretations of the evolution of the PSDC. Globally deltas are understood to be the most vulnerable coastal sites, with the majority of deltas worldwide undergoing net coastal erosion and retreat; the PSDC is a unique delta environment with active growth in area extent, attributed to reduced anthropogenic activity and the predominantly equatorial-tropical rainforest catchment. In order to improve our knowledge of the evolution of the PSDC, this study aims to characterise sources of sediment and the dominant processes responsible for shaping the PSDC. Changes in the hydrodynamic regime and geomorphology are key factors in the evolution of deltas, and developing a greater understanding of these processes is necessary in order to forecast future changes.

This project will establish the sedimentary provenance, transportation processes, and Holocene evolution of the PSDC. The region’s coastal geomorphology will be mapped using remote sensing data and during field-based investigations in the PSDC, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Holocene sedimentary provenance will be carried out from sediment cores collected in the field and analysed using a suite of mineralogical and geochemical approaches including X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF). Chronology will be established through a combination of luminescence dating (OSL) and 14C radiocarbon. This project will integrate the student with PhD cohorts in both institutions with foci in coastal, fluvial and geomorphological processes, climate change, alongside the opportunity to work with industry and international partners at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. The student will have the opportunity to carry out field and laboratory based work packages at the Instituto de Geociências, Departamento de Geologia e Geofísica Marinha, Universidade Federal Fluminense.

The project seeks a highly motivated student interested in applying a range of diverse and cutting-edge techniques to tackle important environmental issues. The student will be supervised by a team of experts in geomorphology, sedimentology, geochemistry and modelling. Ideal candidates will have a background in at least one of these areas, with prior experience of at least one of the proposed techniques particularly welcome.

The PhD studentship is part of the NERC doctoral training centre "QUADRAT" (Queen’s University Belfast and University of Aberdeen). QUADRAT provides high quality training in many aspects essential to future employment, including field-based experience, science communication skills and a Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership.


Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Master’s level.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences
• State name of the lead supervisor as ‘Name of Proposed Supervisor’ on application
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• Select the ‘Visit Website’ to apply now

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit View Website for more information.

The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.



Besset, M., Anthony, E.J., Bouchette, F., 2019. Multi-decadal variations in delta shorelines and their relationship to river sediment supply: An assessment and review. Earth-Science Reviews 193, 199-219.

Carvalho, M. de A., Plantz, J.B., Carelli, T.G., Santiago, G., Trindade, V.S.F., Borghi, L., 2019. The impact of Quaternary sea-level changes on the sedimentary organic matter of the Paraí¬ba do Sul Deltaic Complex area, southeastern Brazil. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 95, 102274.

Flood, R.P., Barr, I.D., Weltje, G.J., Roberson, S., Russell, M.I., Meneely, J., Orford, J.D., 2018. Provenance and depositional variability of the Thin Mud Facies in the lower Ganges-Brahmaputra delta, West Bengal Sundarbans, India. Marine Geology 395, 198-218.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 30.80

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

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