Research in the Past Environments cluster investigates the nature, magnitude and timing of past climate and environmental change, and the interactions between climate, environments and past human populations. We study palaeoenvironments using evidence from ‘natural archives’ – Earth materials that preserve information on past temperatures, hydrology and ecosystems.

One specialisation of the cluster is the use of geochemical records from calcium carbonate mineral deposits and fossils – such as shells, speleothems, marls, corals and otoliths – to understand environmental processes in marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments and at archaeological sites. We often combine this data with biogeographical, sedimentary, stratigraphical and geochronological information to reconstruct environmental histories over time periods ranging from the most recent centuries to the last few million years.

Our research also involves microsampling, pollen preparation, microscopy, and stable isotope analysis. We conduct research in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Pacific, Asia, and South America.

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