email – email@example.com
My key research interests are in palaeolimnology; using sediment-based depositional records to reconstruct the impacts of environmental changes driven by both human and natural agents at timescales from the last full glacial, to the Holocene and the post industrial period (e.g., from the last 50,000 to the most recent 50 years). In little studied high mountain lakes in the Carpathian Mountains, this approach has helped to provide a record of human impacts via atmospheric deposition in an apparently pristine environment since the Industrial Revolution. It has also highlighted the legacy of some of the environment management challenges in this part of Eastern Europe inherited from the previous political regime, and on-going issues such as (sometimes illegal) forest clearance. This is particularly significant because of the high biodiversity and conservation potential of the region.
Working with specialists such as pollen experts, longer term lake sediment and peat studies have also provided important information about the relative importance of people and climate in determining how the landscape looks today. A 12,000 year record of environmental change from a lake in the Transylvanian Depression has allowed us to compare the sediment record and climatic model data. Potentially, this will allow us to better understand the impacts of future climate conditions on habitats. Sometimes these sedimentary archives of environmental change are relatively sparse and careful geomorphological research is required to find suitable sites e.g., peat accumulations trapped behind landslides in the east of the Czech Republic are currently being investigated.
I am also interested in the geomorphological impacts of human activities and their implications in terms of environmental management. Past human activities can both directly and indirectly leave a legacy of pollutants on earth surfaces. So-called legacy pollutants can provide important geoarchaeological information about past activities (e.g. metal smelting) and they can also effectively ‘tag’ soils and sediments allowing us to trace their movement through the landscape e.g., via soil erosion and through river systems. On-going research in the southern Pennines has employed atmospherically deposited lead (Pb) as marker for peat erosion. This has provided a useful tool for mapping small scale variations erosion (linked to high resolution maps created using remote sensing) at the restoration site on Bleaklow (Peak National Park) helping us to understand the patterns of both peat loss and deposition across the peat hags.
Legacy pollutants can be problematic when pollution levels exceed guidelines in areas used by people (especially when they are unaware of the soil’s contamination levels, as evidence of past industrial activity may be hard to detect). This is a particular issue when contamination affects floodplains and flood events remobilise these deposits. (This may become more of an issue if future climate change leads to an increase in such events). In the Mersey Estuary the planned use of selected areas around the site of the new bridge (near Runcorn-Widnes) for conservation are being carefully studied to ensure any contaminant (e.g., heavy metals deposited due to previous industrial activities) held in salt marsh sediments are not impacted by the use of cattle grazing as an environmental management tool.
In the field we use a range of coring equipment to sample sediments from lake beds and peat bogs, to floodplains and salt marshes. Short lake sediment cores can be quickly taken from a boat, but in certain environments it may be more convenient to sample from a frozen lake surface. This is certainly the case when the core is nearly 9 m in length! In the lab we employ a range of techniques to determine the physical characteristics of soils, peats and sediments and to determine a range of other parameters such as pollutants e.g., environmental magnetism, geochemistry, radioactivity and FTIR. In terms of communicating the results of these and other analyses, I have also worked with other specialists exploring the use of a range immersive environments (e.g., VR) to assist in the delivery of key messages and environmental awareness.
CURRENT AND PAST PROJECTS
Details of my current research activity can be found:
in my Salford Profile Page,
on ResearchGate, and