Dr Sue McLaren

Honorary Visiting Fellow

Contact Details

Research Interests

My research is mainly concerned with the study of Quaternary terrestrial geochemical sediments and their use in palaeoenvironmental reconstructions in low latitudes (specifically dryland environments and tropical cave systems). The deposits that I have focused on to date include: aeolianites, calcretes, silcretes and playa sediments. Absolute dating of Quaternary sequences using a range of techniques including radiocarbon, uranium series and luminescence methods form an essential part of this research providing time scales for climatic and environmental changes in the study areas. Sue also works closely with archaeologists looking at palaeogeomorphology, stratigraphy, geochronology and establishing the changing climate and palaeoenvironmental contexts in which human activities took place in a range of environments. Research, to-date has been conducted in a number of different locations including: - Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Botswana, South Africa, Mexico, The Caribbean, southern Spain and Borneo. My research has been funded by a number of bodies including NERC, AHRB, The Royal Society, British Institute at Amman for Archaeology and History, British Academy, Leverhulme, Royal Geographical Society with the IBG and British Geomorphological Research Group.

Current Research

My current research interests focus on:

  • Stable isotope analyses of channel calcretes from southern Jordan, with Professor Melanie Leng (funded by NERC).
  • Uranium and lead-series dating of palaeolakes in Libya, with Dr Steve Noble & Professor Melanie Leng (funded by NERC).
  • 14C and luminescence dating of palaeoenvironments in Saudi Arabia, with Ahmed Al Dughairi, Farhan Al Juaidi and Mark Bateman (funded by the Saudi Government/Qassim University/ University of Riyadh).
  • Interpreting past environments in Western Sahara, with Helena White, Dr Nick Brooks and Dr Andy Carr
    Cenozoic reconstruction of environments in San Juan Raya Basin, Mexico, with Javier Medina Sanchez (funded by CONACYT).
  • Analysing cemented coastal deposits in Southern Africa, with Professor Dave Price and Dr Andy Carr.

PhD Supervision

Research Areas for PhD Supervision

Quaternary studies; palaeoenvironments; desert environments; sedimentology; carbonate diagenesis; geochemical sediments

Enquiries: If you are interested in studying for a PhD in one of these research areas, please make informal enquiries via pgrgeog@le.ac.uk.

Find out more information about Geography PhDs including more research areas, how to apply, funding and entry requirements.


  • Ahmed Al-Dughairi - `Environmental change in Burydah, Saudi Arabia'
  • Javier Medina Sanchez - 'Late Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in El Fresnal region, Mexico'

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