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Sedimentary record of hyperthermal climate and foreland basin tectonics: Alveolina Limestone, Eocene, Spanish Pyrenees

   Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

About the Project


The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) represents the largest climatic change of the Cenozoic and is regarded as a yardstick for future anthropogenic climate change. It is the most pronounced of several Paleogene hyperthermals – transient events of extreme warmth and massive atmospheric carbon addition. Rapid climatic changes throughout the PETM had major impact on biological evolution, for example the expansion of large benthic foraminifera, and on weathering and erosion. While feedbacks are understood qualitatively, there is only limited quantification of response times for depositional systems.

The Eocene Alveolina Limestone was deposited during orogenesis in the Spanish Pyrenees and provides a natural laboratory to study the effects of PETM-related faunal changes, uplift/subsidence and erosion patterns on sedimentation. Consequently, it provides a unique window into sedimentary dynamics on shelves, their response to external forcing, and how organisms interact with their changing environment.


The study aims to quantify physical and biological depositional processes, paleoclimatic constraints, and their combined effects on facies dynamics and shelf geometry during and after the PETM. It will combine detailed outcrop studies of depositional systems representing different biofacies and variable regimes of tectonic subsidence, and relative sea level to test sensitivity of carbonate depositional processes to external controls.

The project requires a student with background and interest in sedimentology and stratigraphy, including thin section petrography, as well as willingness to carry out field work in mountainous terrain. Knowledge in low-temperature geochemistry is advantageous.


The database consists of limestone samples ready for processing. Field work will collect data and samples from outcrops representing a variety of depositional settings.


- petrography and geochemistry of basement and cements (bulk and veins; trace element, - field data acquisition, incl paleocurrents

- petrography (microfacies, point counting)

- biostratigraphy

- facies analysis

- geochemical analyses (XRD, XRF, isotopes)

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Please search and select PhD Earth Science (academic programme) and PhD Earth Science(academic plan)

Funding Notes

Self funded, tuition Band E. Entry points January 2023- September 2023


• Hamon, Y., Deschamps, R., Joseph, P., Garcia, D. and Chanvry, E. 2016. New insight of sedimentological and geochemical characterization of siliciclastic-carbonate deposits (Alveolina Limestone Formation, Graus-Tremp Basin, Spain). Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France 187, 133-153.
• Minelli, N., Manzi, V. and Roveri, M. 2013. The record of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum in the Ager Basin (central Pyrenees, Spain). Geologica Acta 11, 421-441.

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