Natural and anthropogenic processes leave behind tell-tale chemical signatures - fingerprints - that inform researchers about a wide variety of interesting and topical issues. The research proposed here aims at refining our ability to read the chemical fingerprints both in geological and environmental archives. The research will have a strong technological component and a number of applied projects in which chemical fingerprinting will be used and with which students will be trained.
In a first stage, an ultra trace element facility will be established at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. This will consist of ultra-clean space, ultra-clean sample preparation facilities and a mass spectrometer. It will also include fabrication of customised sample introduction systems to lower the limits of detection. Once established, after a period of 1.5 years, phase 2 of the programme will use chemical fingerprinting to i) detect ancient volcanic ash deposition events in British and Alpine peat bogs; ii) attempt to shed light on the evolution of the first multi-cellular life forms preserved in c. 700 million year old sedimentary rocks, and iii) help to reconstruct climate change signals from dust deposited in polar ice cores.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Australian researchers started the science of chemical fingerprinting. The applicant was part of this development and has since further refined the techniques in Canada. This proposal aims to help establishing a world-leading research group in the E.U. by means of supplementing investment into equipment, consumables, support of graduate students and field work. The research is in an area of designated growth and strength at the host institution.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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