Joseph Warham

Biosphere mapping of strontium isotope ratios in the British Isles

Supervisors (Internal): Janet Montgomery and David Cotton
Supervisors (External): Jane Evans and Louise Ander (British Geological Survey)
Funding: NERC/BUFI (BGS's University Funding Initiative)

This project will address the limitations of the way in which the isotopic composition of the base of the food chain is currently extrapolated from our knowledge of geology. The isotopic composition of strontium in the surface environment varies geographically, depending in large part upon the age of the underlying rock. As strontium is absorbed, with calcium, by living organisms, the isotope analysis of bio-mineralised tissues provides an opportunity to study the movement of humans and animals, based on the place that they obtained their food and water. However, there is very little baseline data available against which to compare measured sample values.

Drawing on the combined expertise of the NIGL (radiogenic isotope analysis), the British Geological Survey’s G-BASE project (GIS and sampling) and the Division of AGES at the University of Bradford, this project will develop a multi-disciplinary approach to address the problems associated with defining, and establishing useful isotopic baseline values. This research will evaluate the factors that influence the movement of strontium through the soil and into the biosphere, and to map the resulting values associated with selected organisms in areas of differing geology.


Last Updated:22 April 2008