School of Earth and Environment

Alexander Krause Alexander Krause

Postgraduate Researcher

Email address: eeajrb@leeds.ac.uk
Room: G13 28 University Road

Affiliation: Earth Surface Science Institute

Biography

I am a PhD student at the University of Leeds, working with Dr. Ben Mills, Professor Simon Poulton and Professor Tim Lenton to address some of the major questions regarding the evolution of the Earth system during the Neoproterozoic and early Phanerozoic (see project outline below for further information).

Prior to this I completed a BSc in 2005 and then worked in the publishing realm until December 2014, first within trade magazine publishing (AutoTrader), then media monitoring (Cision), and then finally academic book publishing (Routledge, McGraw-Hill, CIPD Publishing), where I got to attend many conferences such as ISBE, EIBA and BAM as an exhibitor.

Over the last three years I have completed a Graduate Certificate and an MSc whilst continuing to work part-time in publishing/the NHS.

Outside of my studies I enjoy running half-marathons and both playing and watching football - particularly if Liverpool FC win!

Qualifications

PhD Student in Earth Science (2016 - )

MSc Environmental Science (2014 - 2016) University of East Anglia

Graduate Certificate in Geology (2013 - 2014) Birkbeck, University of London

BSc Physics and Meteorology (2002 - 2005) University of Reading

Memberships/Fellowships

I am a student member of the following organisations:

  • European Association of Geochemistry
  • The Geochemical Society
  • Astrobiology Society of Britain

Research Interests

I am interested in the biogeochemical evolution of the Earth system over time and the various factors which may have played a part in driving the Earth to its current state, and will continue to exert an influence far into Earth's future. I am also interested in building an understanding of how and why Earth became habitable and investigating habitability limits in the future in order to use Earth as an analogue for planetary habitability in general.

Teaching Interests

I currently assist with the STELLA modelling workshops for the module: SOEE3110 - Earth System Science: Biogeochemical Cycles

Project details

Project title

Evolution of a habitable planet: An Integrated Modelling and Geochemical Study of the Rise of Oxygen to Modern Levels

Supervisors

Dr. Ben Mills and Professor Simon Poulton (University of Leeds) and Professor Tim Lenton (University of Exeter).

Funding

I am funded by the Leeds-York NERC doctoral training partnership.

Start date

1 October 2016

Project outline

Oxygen is essential for animal life, and an abundance of atmospheric oxygen was likely a necessary precursor for the Cambrian explosion. Currently, oxygen makes up around 21% of the atmosphere but is estimated to have fluctuated between 10-35% since the beginning of the Cambrian. However, oxygen levels in the Proterozoic were significantly less than this.

A transition, between very low oxygen concentrations in the early Proterozoic to modern day levels at the beginning of the Phanerozoic, has been proposed to have occurred in the Neoproterozoic, but is poorly understood in terms of both dating and causality, due in no small part to the extreme events (i.e. break up of Rodinia) which categorise this era.

My project then, aims to address some major unanswered questions during the Neoproterozoic to early Phanerozoic, questions such as:

  • To what degree was oxygen production in the Neoproterozoic driven by changes in the phosphorus cycle?
  • How did major tectonic and climatic events such as the breakup of the Rodinia supercontinent and catastrophic ‘snowball Earth’ glaciations affect long term biogeochemical cycles?
  • Was there a ‘step change’ in atmospheric O2 during the Neoproterozoic, and if so, was this driven by biotic or abiotic processes?

This will be done by analysing drill cores from geologic units which span the Neoproterozoic, to identify the iron and phosphorus speciation of the sediments and use this geochemical data to drive a new biogeochemical model which I will create.