PhD Studentship: Rocks for Lunch: Do Microbes Drive the Weathering of Organic Matter in Rocks?
Physical and Environmental Sciences,Geology,Geography
Short info about job
Company: Durham University
Hours: Part Time
Type / Role: PhD
Phone: +44-1248 2683929
Fax: +44-1295 1414733
Detail information about job PhD Studentship: Rocks for Lunch: Do Microbes Drive the Weathering of Organic Matter in Rocks?. Terms and conditions vacancy
The global carbon cycle controls Earth’s climate by the emission and drawdown of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. One of the major CO2 sources happens when organic carbon within sedimentary rocks is oxidised during weathering. Since the industrial revolution, this flux has been accelerated by burning fossil fuels. However, the natural rates of this CO2 emission remain poorly constrained.
A key unknown is the role of microbial communities in the breakdown of organic matter in rocks. There is evidence that organic carbon in rocks is bioavailable, and can support microorganisms in soils. Therefore, the first steps to weather rock organic carbon, and to release CO2, may be assimilation into a live microbial biomass. However, the existing experiments which constrain how these reactions happen are abiotic.
The student will use a combination of field and laboratory approaches, including experiments in which the temperature and the role of microbiology on reaction kinetics will be assessed. Geochemical methods will include the use of carbon isotopes (14C, 13C, 12C) in trapped CO2 and biomarkers to track organic matter evolution in the solid residue. S/he will use samples collected from the ROC-CO2 catchments around the world (Fig. 1). S/he will receive specialist training in geochemical methods applied in the field, and in the laboratory. The student will also be enrolled in a graduate training programme at Durham, gaining transferable skills, attending international conferences and networking events.
This PhD project is fully-funded as part of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant “ROC-CO2: Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by rock-derived organic carbon oxidation” led by Dr Bob Hilton, Department of Geography, Durham University, UK (www.ROC-CO2.weebly.com). The student will join the ERC-funded ROC-CO2 team (2 PDRAs and 1 PhD student) and work with international collaborators in the EU and USA.
The Department of Geography, Durham University, was ranked 1st in the UK based on Research Power (REF 2014) and has a large and vibrant postgraduate community, regular seminars and paper discussion groups. Durham is a wonderful historical city, within easy reach of regions of outstanding natural beauty including the North York Moors, Northumberland National Park and Hadrian’s Wall.
Financial Support & Eligibility:
The PhD studentship includes 3 years of funding through a tax-free maintenance grant of £15,000 per year (pending confirmation), with payment of tuition fees. The ERC project provides access to extensive research funding. The project is open to UK, EU and international students.
A 1st or 2.1 class Honours undergraduate degree (or equivalent) is required. Applicants with a Master’s degree (MSci/MSc) in the area of geochemistry and/or Earth Sciences are encouraged. Further evidence for outstanding academic pedigree will be welcomed (e.g. prizes, theses, publications).
Start date is by 1st March 2018.
To apply: please see details at http://roc-co2.weebly.com/vacancies.html