PhD position - Speleothem climate reconstructions for Northern Australia over the past 60 ka

The climate history of northern Australia over the past 60 ka is relatively poorly known and yet this is a critical period when the peopling of Australia likely first took place. Cave deposits (speleothems) offer the prospect of providing detailed climatic histories for this period, combining robust radiometric determinations with proxy records of temperature and precipitation, and the potential for vegetation and landscape insights from entrapped pollen assemblages.

A typical tropical cave, Barkly karst, Northwest Queensland

A typical tropical cave, Barkly karst, Northwest Queensland

We are looking for applicants with interests in reconstructing the environmental history of northern Australia, using a combination of pollen analyses and geochemical and geochronological approaches. Some microscopy experience is desirable.  The PhD project is part of a broader multidisciplinary initiative involving scientists from Australia’s leading research-intensive universities (ANU, UQ, UWA, Melbourne, Wollongong) who aim to reconstruct the environmental history of the region over this period.


The successful candidate will be expected to mount a strong application for a merit-based PhD scholarship (applications due 31stOctober for 2020 start) and, upon award of the scholarship, a stipend top-up of $5000 per year will be available. The candidate will work alongside supervisory teams from these universities and collaborate with other PhDs working in the team. The projects offer opportunities for candidates to conduct fieldwork in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia. The environmental intelligence gained will provide new understanding of the causes of environmental change and impacts on this region since the arrival of Australia’s earliest inhabitants. This information is critical to inform interpretation of the Kimberley’s rock art, and its associated archaeology.

For more information, and expressions of interest contact Jon Woodhead ( or Kale Sniderman (