Research projects

Modern stromatolites in Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay Marine Park, Westerm Australia.
Stromatolites as archives for the oxygenation of Early Earth

Oxygen was, and is, crucial to life on Earth. Microbial life likely played a key role in the initial oxygenation of Earth’s surface over two billion years ago during the Great Oxygenation Event, but this is long-standing debate in Earth’s history. Understanding geochemical processes and signals recorded in layered microbial carbonates, known as stromatolites, may be key to unraveling the past and detecting early life on other planets. More here (in progress).

Portion of a Dutch map entitled “Australie” from 1859,showing the Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia (Image credit: Otto Petri)
The landscape response to climate change in the Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia

Australian is defined by it’s friendly kangaroos, fires and droughts, but it wasn’t always so. Before humans arrived, the kangaroos were giant and carneverous and there were less fires as the climate was generally wetter before slowly drying out over the past million years. The modern Gulf of Carpentaria is an epicontinental sea in northern Australia, but was once actually a freshwater lake with a landbridge to the island of New Guinea. More about the Late Quaternary history of northern Australia here… (in progress).

Field work in March 2017 on Rottnest Island, Western Australia (Image credit: Andy Baker)
Unlocking the secrets of groundwater processes at Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Carbonate island aquifers supply drinking water to millions of people worldwide. In many places, this finite resource is being depleted due to high rates of groundwater extraction and anthropogenic climate change, affecting groundwater quality. More here (in progress).

Satellite image of the modern Lake Chew Bahir, Ethiopia from NASA’s globe software World Wind
Archives of past climate change in the ‘Cradle of Humanity in Lake Chew Bahir, Ethiopia

There are many early hominin sites around the Great Rift Valley in modern Kenya and Ethiopia. Lakes in the rift valley, such as Lake Chew Bahir in southern Ethiopia, are valuable sedimentary archives for understanding potential links between early migration and past climate change. More about these fascinating sedimentary records here… (in progress).