Research interests:

I am interested in the quaternary geomorphology of Scotland with focus on the marine archives. Currently studying the fluid flow features known as pockmarks within the fjords of the West coast.

Career history:

I achieved my First class Bsc(Hons) Marine Science with Arctic Studies from the University of the Highlands and Islands SAMS campus in Oban. After this I worked in a variety of roles, before starting my current PhD studentship. Scotland’s Pockmarks: understanding the link between gas-escape features and buried carbon in fjordic systems.

Active research projects:

Scotland’s Pockmarks: understanding the link between gas-escape features and buried carbon in fjordic systems.

These crater like depressions in the seabed are usually found within fine grained glacial/ post-glacial sediments typical of the fjordic environments of Western Scotland. These locations are also known stores of organic carbon. Recent research by Smeaton et al., (2016) has shown these stores to be of orders of magnitude greater than once thought. It is generally agreed that the formation of pockmarks is caused by the movement of fluid/gas from these organic carbon stores.

With initial research showing us that there is a high abundance of pockmarks within Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). It is important to recognise and map these features as possible sources of gases such as methane and the effect that they may have on surrounding marine life.

This project has three primary aims:

To map and quantify the distribution and morphological variation of sea-bed pockmarks in waters around western Scotland (focusing on MPAs / SACs)
To quantify the degree of bathymetric and geological control on pockmark morphology and formation
To assess the relationship between pockmark distribution, shallow sub-sea-bed gas storage, and potential sedimentary carbon stocks in fjordic sediments.

Recent publications:

A geomorphological reconstruction of the deglaciation of Loch Etive during the Loch Lomond Stadial
A Audsley, R Arosio, JA Howe – Scottish Journal of Geology, 2016