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Tracking changes in Archean ocean chemistry: Experimental constraints on the magnitude of stable isotope fractionation during the development of banded iron formations.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, March 31, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

PhD projects which will place new constraints on the evolution of the early Earth, which encompass both high and low temperature geochemistry, isotope geochemistry and igneous/metamorphic petrology are available at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Project Outline

Sustained continental emergence (i.e. above sea-level) was a pivotal moment in Earth’s history. However, the question of when this happened and how much continental crust was initially emergent in the past remain poorly constrained. Therefore, biologic and atmospheric evolution is intimately linked to poorly understood changes in the solid Earth. This PhD project will involve laboratory experiments to simulate the formation of Fe-oxides and carbonates from seawater and trace the chemical and isotopic effects of this process. Given that stable isotope fractionation occurs during oxide and carbonate formation this work is imperative to be able to accurately interpret the variations obtained from natural banded iron formations. Supervised by Dr. Alex McCoy-West, Dr. Andrew Frierdich and Professor Peter Cawood.

Previous experience with wet chemistry, experiments, clean laboratory geochemistry and or mass spectrometer experience will be considered favourably.

The Environment

The PhD candidate will join the dynamic Pulse of the Earth research group led by Professor Peter Cawood that aims to establish the origin and evolution of continents, from crust to lithospheric roots, and their role in the long-term development and evolution of the Earth system. Active researchers include specialists in isotope geochemistry (Dr. Alex McCoy-West), petrology and geodynamics (Dr. Priyadarshi Chowdhury) and geochronology (Dr. Jack Mulder).

Renowned for its high standards in teaching and research. Monash University that is continually ranked in the World’s top 100. The School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment has a suite of world-class research facilities in geochemistry, geobiology and geodynamics. Of direct relevance to this project it houses a suite of laboratories and equipment including: a ThermoFisher Neptune Plus MC-ICP-MS, a Triton Plus TIMS, a triple-quadrupole iCAP-TQ and a single-quadrupole iCAP-Q ICP-MS, ASI-RESOlution ArF 193 nm excimer and New Wave UP 213 nm Nd-YAG solid-state laser ablation systems, and a class 350 clean laboratory for isotope geochemistry. The School also benefits from access to state-of-the-art user facilities such as the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy, the Monash X-ray Platform, the Monash Micro Imaging facility and the Australian Synchrotron, which is located immediately adjacent to Monash's Clayton campus.

To Apply

Applicants will typically hold:
- A bachelor's degree requiring at least four years of full-time study in the field of geology, and which normally includes a research component in the fourth year (thesis), leading to a first-class honours (high final marks) in one of the fields of geochemistry, geobiology, geochronology, or igneous/metamorphic petrology.

- A master's degree that entails work, normally including a significant research component (thesis), at least equivalent to an Honours degree in one of the fields of geochemistry, geobiology, geochronology, or igneous/metamorphic petrology.

Monash scholarships are highly competitive and successful applicants generally have relevant additional research experience, awards and/or research publications in international journals. Scholarships are available for immediate start for applicants with exceptional Tertiary qualifications.

Applicants for whom English is not first language, you must aware of the need to meet the English Language Requirements of the University.

If you fit the requirements, please send your informal enquiry to with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. Interviews will be conducted to assess research potential with shortlisted candidates.

Applications are accepted all year round with the next scholarship round closing 31st of March 2020. Expressions of interest should be submitted no later than 2 weeks prior to the closing dates.

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