NS 4014: Research Project
Length: Spanning the whole year
This is a module in which you undertake individual research under the supervision of an academic researcher. You will be expected to work on a problem that would not normally be tackled by a researcher working in one discipline alone. This project differs from those in the third year in that you have greater choice in the topic that you persue; we endeavour to allow the choice to be lead by the student, depending upon the academic specialists available. The research time is also much longer; you will carry out a project that will span half of the final year.
An example of a previous project in year 4:
Pliocene Palaeoclimate on the Anarctic Peninsula deduced from bivalve morphology and geochemistry
Supervisors: Dr Mark Williams and Dr Jan Zalasiewicz
Growth increment analysis of seven specimens of the Pliocene, Antarctic bivalve Zygochlamys andersonii was combined with geochemical data from the external calcite layer of a single specimen in order to determine a correlation between palaeo-temperature and rate growth, and to provide palaeoclimate data to be fed into the PRISM and ISODYN projects. The growth increments of these seven specimens of Zygochlamys andersonii indicate that the growth of these shells is cyclical. Geochemical analysis of the main Cockburn Island Specimen suggests that growth was seasonal, seeming to coincide with the annual break up of the sea ice around James Ross Island and is therefore likely to have begun in late spring. This is substantiated by the fact that the growth of the main Cockburn Island Specimen appears to be initiated once ambient sea temperatures reach above -1°C. The δ13C profile of this shell shows that the initiation of growth is followed by a decrease to lighter δ13C values indicating a highly productive environment conducive to that of late spring environment around James Ross Island. Due to the correlation of growth increment deposition to δ18O derived temperatures it is probable that with additional geochemistry data from a number of other Z. andersonii specimens we will be able to link growth to palaeo-temperature more strongly, and ultimately go some way to producing a palaeo-thermometer based upon the deposition of growth increments. This study provides the basis for the use of Z. andersonii in high-resolution ecological studies and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.