Professor Robert Hilton

Co-investigator, University of Durham

I research how erosion and weathering processes at Earth’s surface act to transfer carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and long-term, geological storage in sedimentary deposits.

I seek to better understand the feedbacks between these carbon transfers and the climate system, and thus how Earth surface processes may damp (or amplify) climate change through the carbon cycle. To do this, I quantify carbon transfers in field locations around the world. These include tectonically active settings (Taiwan; New Zealand; Sichuan, China; Peruvian Andes), high mountains (European Alps) and high latitudes (Mackenzie River Basin, Canada).

I combine direct sampling of rivers, soils, biomass, marine sediments and geochemical analysis, along with field and remote–sensing based observation and hydrometric monitoring. In particular, I measure stable (12C, 13C, 14N and 15N) and radioactive isotopes (14C) of organic matter to understand the source and processing of organic matter in river systems.

In addition, I seek to develop and apply redox-sensitive trace elements and their isotopes (e.g. rhenium) in river catchments to quantify oxidative weathering processes. These techniques are applied with an aim to better understand how Earth surface processes impact the global carbon cycle.

I am a co-investigator in the ChAOS project.