Skip to main content

Centre members

Professor Kevin W Burton – Professor of Geochemistry. 

Kevin’s research interests bring together a number of interrelated disciplines within the earth and environmental sciences - all linked by the use of isotopes and trace elements, measured using mass spectrometric techniques, to determine absolute timescales and to trace chemical sources through processes that range from planetary differentiation and mantle melting to continental weathering and erosion. 

Professor Julie Prytulak – Professor of Geochemistry

Julie’s research broadly focuses on the ‘high temperature’ investigation of mantle melting and magmatic evolution in various tectonic settings. She also dabbles in the ‘low temperature’ world of sediments, soil and waters, including isotopically tracing anthropogenic inputs to surface environments. Her main tools are geochemical, from major and trace elements to stable (Fe, V, Zn, Re) and classic radiogenic isotope systems (Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Lu-Hf, U-Pb).

Dr. Catriona Menzies – Associate Professor

Catriona’s research broadly focuses on the role of fluids and fluid-rock interactions in Earth processes. Her focus is constraining the control fluids exert on tectonic processes, fault strength evolution and ultimately the seismic cycle. She interrogates the effect of these processes on global geochemical cycling at plate boundary scale across a range of tectonic settings, leading her to dabble in the investigation of complementary processes such as weathering and CO2 sequestration. Catriona’s geochemical toolkit encompasses elemental abundances and stable (C, O, D/H, He, Li, B) and radiogenic (Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd) isotopes.

Dr. Cat Hirst – Assistant Professor

Cat’s research focuses on the role that minerals play in Earth’s surface carbon cycle. Cat mainly applies this focus to soils and waters impacted by anthropogenic change, including permafrost systems, agricultural systems, and peatland systems. Cat works on a range of scales from laboratory experiments to large river and a range of sample type from synthetic minerals to river sediments. Cat combines element concentrations and stable isotope systems (mainly Fe, Si) with particle size separation, microscopy, and spectroscopy techniques.

Dr. Jotis Baronas – Assistant Professor

Jotis’ research is aimed at quantifying and mechanistically understanding biogeochemical processes in the Earth surface environment. His work spans a wide range of spatial and temporal scales – from water-sediment interface at the ocean floor, to world’s largest river basins. He employs an interdisciplinary approach that combines field studies, controlled lab experiments, and computer models of varying complexity. He has particularly focused on investigating mineral-water reactions (weathering and diagenesis) in freshwater and marine environments, by developing and coupling a multitude of isotopic and geochemical tracers – elemental and isotopic ratios of Si, Ge, C, SO4, H2O, Sr, Nd, and others.

Source Rock and Sulfide Geochronology and Geochemistry Laboratory Professor

Professor Dave Selby – Professor of Earth Science

Dave’s current interests include further development of the Re-Os chronometer to sedimentary and petroleum systems, time scale calibration and resolving controversy of the causes of mass extinctions. Additional interests surround Re-Os systematics of sulphide minerals, and the development and application of Ni stable isotopes to petroleum and sedimentary systems. His research is conducted in the Source Rock Geochronology and Geochemistry Laboratory

Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratories

Professsor Darren Gröcke – Professor in Earth Sciences

Darren has diverse research interests ranging from palaeoceanography, palaeoclimatology to biogeochemistry. His research is not only on palaeo-records, but recently has focused on modern environmental and ecological systems in order to better understand and refine our knowledge of ancient climates.

Professor Colin Macpherson – Professor of Earth Sciences

Colin has applied new and established geochemical techniques in innovative ways to understand the origins of magmatism and its relationship to tectonics and set up the original stable isotope laboratory in Durham. He has developed particular expertise in SE Asia and the western Pacific where he has studied subduction initiation, lithosphere erosion, mantle melting, crustal growth and recycling of subducted crust and sediment.

Research Staff

Dr. Geoff Nowell – Senior Research Officer

Geoff specialises in multi-collector plasma ionisation and thermal ionisation mass spectrometry. Much of his career has specialised in Lu-Hf isotope measurements applied to mantle samples, combining this approach with Re-Os geochemistry to provide powerful constraints on the origins of potassic magmas and pyroxenite lithologies in the mantle.

Dr. Chris Ottley – Senior Research Officer

Chris has a wide-ranging background in environmental analytical chemistry. In the last 15 years, he has concentrated on the application of ICP-MS technologies supporting the research objectives of the Department of Earth Sciences. He has continually been developing methodologies for the low-level determination of REE and other trace elements at low concentrations in geological materials.

Jo Peterkin – Research Lab Technician

Jo provides technical support for the Arthur Holmes Laboratories and the carbonate side of the Stable Isotope Lab. Responsibilities’ include overseeing the day-to-day running of the associated mass spectrometers (Thermo-Finnigan Neptune, Triton, MAT 253), offers on-site training in the operation of instruments (and associated sample preparation chemistry work), offers on-site training in the operation of instruments (and associated sample preparation chemistry work) to new users both within and outside Durham University. Jo also monitors and advises lab managers on levels of detection, analysis reproducibility and conducts diagnostic tests and investigations where appropriate.