Provenance of late Quaternary loess along the middle and lower Danube River, Europe

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Twitter: @Fenn_Kaja
Blog: https://changingtheclimateblog.wordpress.com/

Academic Profile

Kaja is a NERC-funded doctoral student on the DTP in Environmental Research, and is based in the Oxford Luminescence Dating laboratory at the School of Geography and the Environment. She also holds a CASE studentship with the British Geological Survey. In 2013 she graduated from the University of the West of England with a First Class BSc (Hons) in Geography and Environmental Management. Subsequently, in 2014 she completed an MSc in Quaternary Science with a distinction at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research interests include palaeoenvironmental reconstructions, sedimentology, and geochronology.

Prizes and Awards

  • 2016 - International Sedimentologist Association Postgraduate Grant
  • 2016 - British Geological Survey CASE Studentship
  • 2015-2019 - Natural Environmental Research Council DTP Studentship
  • 2014 - The Philippa Holmes Prize for the best stratigraphy and/or sedimentology MSc dissertation, Royal Holloway University of London
  • 2013 - The Institution of Environmental Sciences Vice President's Prize for the best applied environmental BSc dissertation, University of West England

Current Research

Kaja's doctoral research is focused on identifying sources of Quaternary dust (loess) deposits in Central and Eastern Europe.

Kaja sampling loess section for OSL dating and provenance.

Kaja sampling loess section for OSL dating and provenance.

Loess represents a key terrestrial climate archive and provides an unparalleled opportunity to investigate the past dust cycle, a major component of the past climate system. Loess is found across Europe, with Central-Eastern sequences along the mid/lower reaches of the Danube River being particularly extensive, thick, well preserved, and providing robust geochronologies of sedimentary deposition. Previously proposed source(s) of Danubian loess have been mainly theoretical or inconclusive and included the Fennoscandinavian Ice-Sheet, Alpine glaciers, sands from the Carpathian Basin, Carpathians, Sudeten, and Danubian alluvial fans. Due to methodological differences, basin wide connections between data to achieve a regional overview of controls on sediment production and transport along the Danube has not been achieved. Therefore little is known about dust sources of the most recent full glacial-interglacial cycle, highlighting a need for a systematic, high-resolution approach to examining profiles across the Danube basin linked to a robust chronostratigraphy.

This project will apply new and established single-grain provenance as well as luminescence dating techniques to constrain the spatial and temporal variability of dust sources of late Quaternary loess. It will test two hypotheses concerning the nature of loess producing regions in Central Europe along the mid/lower Danube: (1) Sediment has predominantly the same source throughout the basin and is produced via major ice-sheets and glaciers; (2) source changes along the river, with dominant inputs from local areas and geologies. It will also seek to assess the sample representativety within individual sedimentary units.

Loess sequence at Surduk, Serbia, spanning last 125ka.

Loess sequence at Surduk, Serbia, spanning last 125ka.