ESR8: Isotope fingerprint of metal deposition onto the Earth surface

The Department of Geology, Trinity College Dublin seeks to appoint a PhD student in the research field of Ultra Trace Element and Isotope Geochemistry. Using samples collected from the extensive Irish peatlands, the student will seek to reconstruct timing and type of historic metal deposition in peat profiles using trace elements and Fe and Zn isotopes.


  • Explore the validity of using Fe and Zn isotope signatures as a proxy for paleo-land-use.
  • Evaluate the possibility of using Fe and Zn isotopic tools to fingerprint volcanic ash (tephra) deposition events.

Tasks and methodology:

  • Identify existing peat cores suitable for the project, and sample new ones if necessary.
  • Compile and produce additional chronological records using tephra and radiocarbon.
  • Reconstruct Fe and Zn historical deposition profiles and its associated isotope composition.
  • Explore the validity of Fe and Zn isotopes in peats as a proxy for paleo-land-use formation rates.


  • Master in Geosciences.
  • Experience in delicate geochemical analyses.
  • Knowledge of Isotope Geochemistry.
  • Willingness to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment.
  • Ability to independently develop novel experimental approaches.

Planned secondments:

  • 6 months-secondment at GFZ to carry out Fe isotope analyses.
  • 1 month-field work on the peatland sites.
  • 2 month-intersectoral secondment at Teck to learn about ore extraction processes.

Description of host institution:

Trinity College Dublin is Ireland's premier university, located in the historic campus in the heart of Dublin. The School of Natural Sciences accommodates ca. 40 academic staff, 20 postdoctoral research fellows and 150 graduate research students across the disciplines of Geology, Geography, Environmental Sciences, Botany and Zoology. The Geology Department has a core of young and dynamic academic staff with an overarching research focus in geochemistry. It houses all the traditional thin section, rock, mineral, fossil and tephra preparation facilities, and has a laboratory complex with clean rooms, stable isotope mass spectrometers, XRD, a new excimer UV laser ablation system and new ICP-MS and ICP-OES. It is a partner in the Irish National Centre for Isotope Geochemistry, located 20 minutes away, which offers access to cutting edge TIMS and MC-ICP-MS.

For further information contact Dr Emma Tomlinson tomlinse(at) or Prof Balz Kamber kamberbs(at)