This project is suitable for a Master of Philosophy project

The warming trend in the time between the end of the last “Ice Age” and the current interstadial (ca. 18,000 – 10,000 years ago) was interrupted by a rapid cooling event. The nature and timing of this event is fairly well understood in the Northern Hemisphere and it is known as the Younger Dryas. More information is required to understand climate variability in the Southern Hemisphere during this time period. The Misery Moraine sequence in the central South Island, New Zealand was initially used as evidence that the Younger Dryas was a globally synchronous event. Initial cosmogenic dates on boulders within the Misery Moraines indicated a glacial advance around 11,700 years ago. Understanding rapid climate change events such as the Younger Dryas is critical for the prediction of such events in the future.

This project provides an opportunity for a student to work as part of a team on a multi-disciplinary project involving the University of Queensland and Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO) that will improve our understanding of the timing and triggers of glacial advances in the vicinity of the Misery Moraines. This work will also expand our knowledge of paleoenvironmental change in this area over at least the last 14,000 years. 

The student will examine a 4m deep sediment core from a bog immediately behind one of the moraines (Fig. 1) using a variety of paleoenvironmental techniques (e.g. pollen, sedimentology, diatoms). Preliminary radiocarbon dates and core lithology hint at an interesting story including a record of climate change and possible local, catchment-scale disturbance events. There is evidence for the formation of a lake ca. 7000 years ago, and this may have been caused by a rock fall blocking the outflow from the bog (Fig. 1). Because a major aim of this work is to verify cosmogenic ages on the moraine sequence, the core will be comprehensively dated using the ANSTO AMS radiocarbon dating facilities.

Contact: Prof Jamie Shulmeister or Assoc Prof Patrick Moss