Search
Search type

Geography

Two land rovers in a desert

Quaternary Environments and Geoarchaeology (QEG)

QEG is an international group exploring the interface of Quaternary climate changes and landscape dynamics in diverse global systems, including glacier systems, river systems, dryland systems, ecosystems, and geoarchaeology.

Research themes

Dryland systems

We explore the hydroclimatic and environmental changes that dryland regions have experienced through the Quaternary, with particular focus in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. These are expressed at the surface in the landforms and landscapes of dryland, and also beneath the surface in the hydrogeological record.

There are strong links with the Geoarchaeology research theme within Geography.

Research highlights

  • Quaternary history of the River Nile basin: geomorphological and hydrological changes.
  • Quaternary landscape dynamics within the Namib Sand Sea and the Kalahari, Southern Africa.
  • Using terrestrial carbonates to reconstruct palaeohydrology and palaeoenvironmental change.
  • Rapid age assessment of dryland landscape dynamics using a portable luminescence reader.
  • The unsaturated zone as a novel archive for Quaternary environmental change.

Funded projects

  • Nitrate beneath the surface in drylands (2015-1017) Research Impact Stimulation Fund, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester (£4,951) and NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility Grant IP-1542-0515 (£39,500).  PI Abi Stone. Collaborators: The British Geological Survey.
  • Rainfall in the Desert Sand: First application of chemical tracers to Kalahari dunes to investigate past fluctuations in rainfall and changing recharge rates to groundwater in the Stampriet Aquifer (2012-2014) John Fell OUP Research Fund 103/931 £5250  and Quaternary Research Association £850.  PI Abi Stone. Collaborators: Yijian Zeng, University of Twente, The Netherlands and Martine van der Ploeg, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.
  • U-Th and 40Ar/39Ar Dating of Palaeolithic Landscapes at Wadi Dabsa, southwest Saudi Arabia (2017-2019) NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility Grant IP-1739-0517 (£97,000). PI Abi Stone. Collaborators: The British Geological Survey, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre,  University of York, The University of Liverpool, King Saud University, Ian Candy, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Key people

Ecosystems

We investigate environmental responses to Quaternary climate change, with a strong research focus on North Africa, Mediterranean and NW European ecosystems.

We aim to elucidate the natural and anthropogenic drivers of past environmental changes. Our research examines ecosystem changes through the study of fossil pollen, diatoms, chironomids and a range of other proxies in peat, lake and marine cores.

Research highlights

  • Palaeoenvironmental change in the Middle Atlas, Morocco
  • Palaeoecology of open peatlands in the Peruvian Amazon
  • Rapid vegetation and climate changes during the last glacial in the Iberian Peninsula
  • Geochemical signatures of environmental change in pollen of Atlas cedar
  • Environmental history of the Marrakesh High Atlas
  • Palaeoecology and human-environment relations across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition

Funded projects

  • Holocene glacier dynamics and environmental change in the High Atlas, Morocco (Leverhulme Research Project, 2018-2021)

Key people

Geoarchaeology

We use palaeoenvironmental proxies and geochronology to investigate and reconstruct past physical landscapes inhabited by hominin populations. These environmental and climatic reconstructions inform archaeological theories about hominin migration and dispersal, hominin activities and the impact of our species on the landscape.

There are strong links with the Drylands research theme within Geography and with the Manchester Centre for Archaeology and Egyptology

Research highlights

  • The Palaeolithic Landscapes of Wadi Dabsa, Saudi-Arabia
  • Human activity and environmental change in the Nile Valley of Northern Sudan
  • The Palaeolithic Landscapes near Mokopane, Limpopo Province, South Africa.
  • Environmental impact of Late Mesolithic (hunter-gatherer) cultures
  • The transition from Mesolithic hunter-gathering to Neolithic farming in North-West Europe

Funded projects

  • U-Th and 40Ar/39Ar Dating of Palaeolithic Landscapes at Wadi Dabsa, southwest Saudi Arabia (2017-2019). NERC Isotope Geosciences Facility Grant IP-1739-0517 (£97,000). PI Abi Stone. Collaborators: The British Geological Survey, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre,  University of York, The University of Liverpool, King Saud University.
  • SURFACE Project: Exploring the surface Palaeolithic archaeological record of Saudi Arabia using archaeology, geomorphology and remote sensing (2016-18). European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation Programme under the Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie grant agreement No. 660343. Led by PI Robyn Inglis, University of York.  Abi Stone is a collaborator. Other collaborators include Macquarie University, Australia, University of Liverpool, King Saud University, KSA.
  • Health and diet in ancient Nubia through political and climate change. (2009-2013) The Leverhulme Trust  (£213,233). Co-I Jamie Woodward  Collaborators: The British Museum,  The University of Durham, Aberystwyth UniversityKey people (hyperlinks to pages).

Key people

Glacier systems

We work on reconstructing the timing and nature of past glacial systems, from alpine glaciers to continental ice sheets. Our research provides a long-term context for changes in past and present glacial processes.

We make use of glacial landform and sediment records, glacier and climate models, and chronological tools such as radiocarbon dating, cosmogenic nuclide exposure dating and luminescence dating.

Research highlights

  • Retreat of the Western Cordilleran Ice Sheet Margin During the Last Deglaciation
  • Cosmogenic nuclide dating of outwash sediments in Patagonia
  • Flow-pattern evolution of the last British Ice Sheet
  • Global glacier dynamics during 100 ka Pleistocene glacial cycles
  • Timing of glacial retreat in the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

Funded projects

  • Holocene glacier dynamics and environmental change in the High Atlas, Morocco. Leverhulme Trust, 2018 (P. Hughes, Fletcher)
  • Glaciation of the Balkans during the Late Pleistocene: extent, timing and climatic significance. Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Portal Proposal. Award Number: 11382, 2018 (P. Hughes, Woodward, Allard)
  • Coastal exposure: Tracing Cordilleran Ice Sheet retreat along the coastline of British Columbia. National Geographic, 2017 (Darvill)

Key people

River systems

We undertake a diverse range of research activities related to rivers spanning the present, recent historical past and Quaternary timescale.

Research highlights

  • River behavior as a driver of landscape change in the Quaternary with a focus in the Mediterranean region. Current work includes investigating the impact of climate change and glaciation on steepland river systems in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco
  • Micro- and macro-plastics pollution in industrial rivers. Current work includes study of micro-plastics in the River Tame floodplains, Greater Manchester

Key people

Our people

PhD students

Current PhD students

Former PhD students

  • Kathryn Adamson
  • Ben Bell
  • Jennifer Campbell
  • Joanne Egan
  • Rachel Hurley
  • Sarah Kneen
  • Mike Morley
  • Barry Taylor
  • Rose Wilkinson