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Dr David Wilson
  • Research Associate
  • Dept of Earth Sciences
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

  • Research associate, Dept of Earth Sciences, UCL, 2018-present
  • Senior teaching fellow, Dept of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, 2017-2018
  • Research associate, Dept of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, 2013-2017
  • Research associate, Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, 2011-2012
  • PhD Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, 2011
  • BA/MSci Natural Sciences, Jesus College, University of Cambridge, 2007

Research Themes
Research Summary

As a geologist and earth scientist, my research uses isotopic and geochemical measurements to investigate past changes in ocean chemistry, ocean circulation, continental weathering, and polar ice sheets, and how these interacted with Earth's climate evolution. Evidence from such paleoclimate studies provides an invaluable context for understanding the present and future climate system.

Research Interests

  • Isotope geochemistry
  • Paleoceanography
  • Paleoclimate
  • Weathering
  • Ice sheets

Research Projects

Much of my research has focused on applying radiogenic isotopes of neodymium (Nd) as a tracer for mixing between water masses in the past, in order to address the variability of past ocean currents and their implications for global and regional climate change. This work has been carried out using substrates from deep sea sediment cores, such as reductive sediment leachates, foraminifera and fish teeth.

Deep-sea corals are also emerging as a very promising multi-proxy archive, and I have recently been using Nd isotopes measured on deep-sea corals from the Southern Ocean in order to constrain deglacial and Holocene changes in ocean circulation. This research is providing new constraints on the ocean's role in atmospheric carbon dioxide changes on millennial and sub-millennial timescales.

An alternative application of Nd isotopes is for tracing detrital sediment provenance. In this way, I have been able to explore the behaviour of the Antarctic ice sheet during past warm intervals, which has implications for its future behaviour.

Another research focus has been on lead (Pb) isotopes in the ocean, which provide unique evidence on regional weathering inputs. I have conducted analytical method development for high precision isotope measurements on small quantitites of Pb in deep-sea corals, as well as applying Pb isotopes in corals and ferromanganese oxides to reconstruct past changes in continental weathering through glacial-interglacial cycles.

At UCL, I am using a stable isotope system – lithium (Li) isotopes – to explore continental weathering processes over a range of timescales and their role in the Earth’s carbon cycle.
Teaching Summary

I am currently in a research role. However, I spent 2017-2018 as a senior teaching fellow at Imperial College London, with primary responsibilities including: Optical Mineralogy and Petrology (1st year), Igneous and Metamorphic Processes (1st year); Palaeoceanography (3rd/4th year); Earth Science Synthesis (3rd year); and Science Communication (4th year).

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