IGS: Current and Recent Graduate Research
Desert dune system sensitivity to Quaternary climate change
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Carly is currently a DPhil student in the School of Geography and the Environment, within the Oxford Luminescence Dating (OLD) Laboratory. She is funded by a full NERC studentship and is a recipient of the C.C. Reeves Scholarship awarded by St Catherine's College. Carly graduated from the University of Oxford in 2009 with a first class BA(Hons) in Geography, and commenced her DPhil in January 2010. Carly is also a college lecturer at Keble and St Catherine's Colleges.
Whilst laboratory and field protocols for optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating have advanced and become increasingly utilised when reconstructing past climates in arid environments, these developments have exceeded capacity to interpret the significance of OSL dune ages in terms of past climate change. Sand dunes are the product of complex dune dynamics and sampling strategy; extracting the relative importance of these factors when interpreting discontinuous OSL chronologies from sand dunes has proven difficult, and is hindered in many contexts where the internal structure of the dunes is not visible.
Carly's current research project aims to address these issues; examining the interpretation of OSL dune ages from contexts where the stratigraphic development of sampled dunes can be observed. OSL samples from sites in the United Arab Emirates, where major exposures of dune internal structure have been revealed, will be dated in order to assess how sample ages reflect the dune profile and how this profile is a reflection of past environmental change.
Towards this aim, two fundamental themes will be considered:
- To what extent are the sampled record and OSL chronologies a reflection of sand dunes as a product of past environmental change? How can these multiple signals be extracted from dunes in order to develop a more meaningful interpretation of environmental and climatic change based on OSL dates?
- How do detailed palaeoenvironmental chronological reconstructions from sand dunes relate to other regional records of past environmental change, and how can these different archives be compared and collated in order to construct a more detailed picture of past environments?
- Leighton, C.L., Bailey, R.M. and Thomas, D.S.G. (2013) The utility of desert sand dunes as Quaternary chronostratigraphic archives: evidence from the northeast Rub' al Khali. Quaternary Science Reviews.