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Academic Staff


Professor Ian R. Hall

Ian joined the Department in February 2000 as a lecturer in Marine Geoscience. His research has recently focussed on the development and implementation of sedimentological proxies for reconstructing variability in the deep ocean's thermohaline circulation, which appears to be strongly associated with global climate change.

Ian graduated from the School of Ocean Sciences in Bangor in 1988. After spending a year working offshore in the North Sea he led a diving expedition to Western Samoa and Tonga, before studying for his Ph.D. jointly at the Department of Oceanography, Southampton University and NERC's Institute of Oceanographic Sciences. His research involved the biogeochemical cycling of trace elements in seawater, and he graduated in 1993.

Ian then changed direction by accepting a post-doctoral position at Cambridge University working with Nick McCave. He worked there for six and a half years during which time he was appointed as a research fellow of Hughes Hall.

Ian worked on the two phases of the EU-funded Ocean Margin Exchange (OMEX) Project investigating the response of the NW European Margin, in particular its organic carbon export, to changing climate since the Last Glacial Maximum. However, he became increasingly interested in the development and implementation of a sedimentary proxy that allows the vigour of the thermohaline-driven deep current flow to be reconstructed. The proxy termed 'sortable silt', is a direct physical measurement of the near bottom current speed acting at the time of deposition and as such is a unique palaoceanographic proxy. Ian has achieved significant methodological advances which now allow the precise determination of the particle size distribution of fine silts (both terrigenous and carbonate) at the low component concentrations. This has been necessary to allow the investigation of fast accumulating drift sequences that hold records of a sufficient resolution to permit detailed correlation with terrestrial records of climatic parameters. This technique has provided the first direct evidence of a dramatic decline in the deep flow rate of North Atlantic Deep Water out of Iceland Basin over a period of a few hundred years at about 120,000 years ago. This implies sharp cooling of the northern North Atlantic region and appears to be the key response marking climate deterioration towards the end of the last interglacial period.

Ian has completed over twenty research cruises in coastal waters of the UK and continental margin of NW Europe and also further a field in the North and South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He sailed as a sedimentologist on Leg 181 of the Ocean Drilling Program: Southwest Pacific Gateways. The leg drilled the large sediment drifts, which have developed under the complex of major ocean currents that enter the Southwest Pacific to the east of New Zealand. The main current is known as the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC). It has an enormous volume transport of 20 Sverdrups (106 m3 s-1), and is responsible for the supply of most of the deep water to the Pacific Ocean (~35 % of the total deep water inflow to the World Ocean). Ian is currently reconstructing the paleaocurrent variability of the DWBC over key periods in its evolution and hopes to integrate this information into our understanding of the circulation pattern of the global ocean and its response to climate change. As a result of this work Ian has recently been appointed as a visiting research fellow of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Sciences in New Zealand. He is looking forward spending time there and continuing his research activities in this region.

Not fully abandoning his roots, Ian maintains active research interests in the contemporary marine system particularly the relationship between particle characteristics, thorium scavenging and organic carbon export from the upper ocean

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