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Prof Graham Shields-Zhou Shields
Room 206
Pearson Building
University College London
  • Professor of Geology
  • Dept of Earth Sciences
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

I received my PhD in sedimentary geochemistry in 1997 on the Sr, S and C isotope stratigraphy of Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary sections in China and Mongolia. Since coming to UCL, I have started to revisit this key interval in Earth history and have held visiting fellowships in both Germany and China to further this aim.My most recent research work focusses on the geology of China, both North and South, and how the chemical composition of sedimentary rocks there can shed light on the evolution of the Earth.Timewise I focus on an intriguing half-a billion years of Earth history from about a billion years ago, through the Snowball Earth cataclysm to the first appearance of animals during the Cambrian explosion. My work has contributed to about sixty international publications (H-index = 23). Curently, I am the chair of the Cryogenian Subcommission whose task it is to define and correlate the base of the Cryogenian Period (System) around the world.

Research Groups
Research Summary

1. How did the the modern Earth system come into being? - I use geochemical and isotopic tracers to study the evolutionary dynamics of our planet's oceans and atmosphere during the awakening of biological complexity amid climatic and tectonic upheaval: about 1000-500 million years ago; 

2. Was sedimentation different in the Precambrian? - Rocks also provide important clues about our changing planetary environment. Early marine cements and other authigenic minerals such as francolite (calcium phosphate) have changed both their character and abundance through time, presumably as a result of wider environmental evolution;

3. Can sedimentary geochemistry be applied to environmental problems? - Yes, it can, and I have worked on this at times. Geochemical tracers in corals have helped us to constrain human-induced changes in soil erosion, while I have also dabbled at times in municipal waste disposal and recycling; land remediation and phosphate resources.

Teaching Summary

GEOL1013 The Earth

GEOL1014 Geochemistry (contributor)

Academic Background
1997 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Geochemistry Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
1991 BSc Bachelor of Science – Geology Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
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