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Paul Dennis

(Head of Laboratory)     


Between 1974 and 1977 I studied geology and geochemistry at Imperial College, London. Following this I held a Royal Dutch Shell Research scholarship (later a NERC research post) working on oxygen self-diffusion in silicate minerals under hydrothermal conditions (Freer and Dennis, 1982, Dennis, 1984, Dennis and Freer, 1989, 1992, Dennis and Kilner, 1984, Elphick et al., 1986a, 1986b, 1988, Steele et al., 1984, 1986). During this time I became interested in, and gained considerable practical experience of: (i) experimental high temperature/high pressure mineralogy using cold seal (Tuttle) type vessels, an internally heated, gas medium pressure vessel and solid media pressure vessels; (ii) isotope geochemistry, using 18-O labelled water as a tracer in oxygen self diffusion experiments, and (iii) mass spectrometry, using both conventional stable isotope ratio mass spectrometery (SIRMS), and, for the time, novel ion microprobe methods (ATOMIKA DIDA-II ion microprobe). Following a brief spell (1986-87) in computational mineralogy working on the energetics of incommensurate phase transformations in mullite (University College, London) I moved to VG Ionex, Burgess Hill, East Sussex (1988-1989) where I worked on the development of new ion microprobe systems. I joined the School of Environmental Sciences, UEA in September 1989 with the aim of setting up a new Stable Isotope Laboratory. I started out by purchasing a single VG SIRA series II mass spectrometer and designed and built off-line preparation lines for carbonate and organic samples. Today the laboratory has 6 dual-inlet and continuous flow mass spectrometers, a wide range of automated sample preparation facilities and a very broad research portfolio.

My research interests have broadened away from high temperature and high pressure mineral dynamics towards low temperature isotope geochemistry and have included the areas of theoretical and experimental isotope fractionation between phases, palaeoclimate studies, groundwater dynamics, ocean circulation and deep and bottom water formation, and atmospheric chemistry (notably aerosols).

During this time, in 1984 I established, with Hilary Kennedy of the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor, the UK Stable isotope Mass Spectrometer Users Group (SIMSUG). We held our first meeting, with Harmon Craig as the keynote speaker, at the UEA in January 1984. The UK SIMSUG now meets on an annual basis, this years meeting being organised by the SUERRC group at East Kilbride, Glasgow. In addition SIMSUG is a joint partner in JESIUM (Joint European Stable Isotope Users Meeting). I have also been an active participant in the IAEA Consultants Group on Stable isotope Standards and Reference Materials.

Research Interests

My current research interest are:    (i)  isotopic clusters in carbonate minerals and their application in palaeothermometry and geothermometry;
                                                              (ii)  fluid inclusions in speleothems as recorders of palaeoprecipitation oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition;
                                                              (iii) ice core palaeoclimate studies (NEEM ice core project, Greenland, Gomez Glacier, Antarctic Peninsula and Berkner Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica);
                                                              (iv) oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in precipitation (Schools Network for Isotopes in Precipitation: SNIP)
                                                              (iv) noble gas studies of groundwater palaeorecharge and groundwater dynamics;
                                                              (v)  in-situ cosmogenic isotopes as a dating tool for rock surfaces and geologic processes.
                                                              (vi) Open Notebook Science (ONS)

In addition I have an active interest in instrument design and development including: MIRA, HELIOS and HYPERION.

Freer, R. and Dennis, P.F. (1982) Oxygen diffusion studies: 1. A preliminary ion microprobe investigation of O diffusion in some rock forming minerals. Mineralogical Magazine 45: 179-192
Dennis, P.F. (1984) Oxygen self-diffusion in quartz under hydrothermal conditions. Journal of Geophysical Research 89: 4047-4057
Dennis, P.F. and Kilner J.A. (1984) Effect of ratio of surface area to volume on oxygen self diffusion coefficients determined for crushed MgO-Al2O3 spinels. Journal of the American Ceramic Society 67: C269-271
Steele, B.C.H., Kilner, J.A., Dennis, P.F. and TannhauserD. (1984) Investigations of oxygen surface exchange kinetics on oxide surfaces using dynamic SIMS. British Ceramic Proceedings 34: 53-63
Elphick, S.C., Dennis, P.F. and Graham, C.M. (1986) Oxygen diffusion studies in minerals--the effect of surface reaction processes in hydrothermal exchange experiments. In Freer, R and Dennis, P.F., Editors: Kinetics and mass transport in silicate and oxide systems Materials Science Forum 7: 235-242
Elphick, S.C., Dennis, P.F. and Graham, C.M. (1986) An experimental study of the diffusion of oxygen in quartz and albite using an overgrowth technique. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 92: 322-330
Freer, R. and Dennis, P.F. (eds), 1986, Kinetics and mass transport in silicate and oxide systems, Materials Science Forum 7, Trans Tech Publications, 355pp
Steele, B.C.H., Kilner, J.A., Dennis, P.F., McHale, A.E., Van Hemert, M. and Burggraaf, A.J. (1986) Oxygen surface exchange and diffusion in fast ionic conductors. Solid State Ionics 18-19:1038-1044
Elphick, S.C., Graham, C.M. and Dennis, P.F. (1988) An ion microprobe study of anhydrous oxygen diffusion in anorthite – a comparison with hydrothermal data and some geological implications. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 100: 490-495
Dennis, P.F.and Freer, R. (1989) Non-Stoichiometric Compounds: Surfaces, Grain Boundaries and Structural Defects, ed. J. Nowotny and W. Weppner, NATO ASI Series 276: 353.
Andrews, J.E., Riding, R. and Dennis, P.F. (1993) Stable isotopic compositions of Recent freshwater cyanobacterial carbonates from the British Isles: local and regional environmental controls. Sedimentology 40: 303-314
Dennis, P.F. and Freer, R. (1993) Oxygen self-diffusion in rutile under hydrothermal conditions. Journal of Materials Science 28: 4804-4810
Fichez, R, Dennis, P.F., Fontaine, M.-F. and Jickells, T. (1993) Isotopic and biochemical composition of particulate organic matter in a shallow water estuary subject to eutrophication. Marine Chemistry 43: 263-276
Andrews, J.E., Pedley, H.M. and Dennis, P.F. (1994) Stable isotope record of palaeoclimatic change in a British Holocene tufa. The Holocene 4: 349-355
Andrews, J.E., Tandon, S.K. and Dennis, P.F. (1995) Concentration of carbon dioxide in the late Cretaceous atmosphere. Journal of the Geological Society, London 152: 1-3
Frew, R.D., Heywood, K.J. and Dennis, P.F. (1995) Oxygen isotope study of water masses in the Princess Elizabeth Trough, Antarctica. Marine Chemistry 49: 141-153
Tandon, S.K., Sood, A., Andrews, J.E. and Dennis, P.F. (1995) Palaeoenvironments of the dinosaur-bearing Lameta Beds (Maastrichtian), Narmada Valley, Central India. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 117: 153-184
Feast, N.A. and Dennis, P.F. (1996) A comparison of methods for nitrogen isotope analysis of groundwater. Chemical Geology 129: 167-171
Guo, L., Andrews, J.E., Riding, R., Dennis, P.F. and Dresser, Q. (1996) Possible microbial effects on stable carbon isotopes in hot-spring travertines. Journal of Sedimentary Research 66: 468-473
Hiscock, K.M., Dennis, P.F., Saynor, P.R. and Thomas, M.O. (1996) Hydrochemical and stable isotope evidence for the extent and nature of the effective chalk aquifer of north Norfolk, U.K. Journal of Hydrology 180:79-107
Rivers, C.N., Barett., M.H., Hiscock, K.M., Dennis, P.F., Feast, N.A. and Lerner, D.N. (1996) Use of nitrogen isotopes to identify nitrogen contamination of the Sherwood Sandstone aquifer beneath the city of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Hydrogeology Journal 4: 90-102
Andrews, J.E., Christides, S and Dennis, P.F. (1997) Assessing mineralogical and geochemical heterogeneity in the sub 63 micron size fraction of Holocene lime muds. Journal of Sedimentary Research 67: 531-535
Andrews, J.E., Gare, S.G. and Dennis, P.F. (1997) Unusual isotopic phenomena in Welsh quarry water and carbonate crusts. Terra Nova  9: 67-70
Andrews, J.E., Riding, R. and Dennis, P.F. (1997) The stable isotope record of environmental and climatic signals in modern terrestrial microbial carbonates from Europe. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 129:171-189
Feast, N.A., Hiscock, K.M., Dennis, P.F. and Bottrell, S.H. (1997) Controls on stable isotope profiles in the Chalk aquifer of north-east Norfolk, UK, with special reference to dissolved sulphate. Applied Geochemistry 12: 803-812
Andrews, J.E., Greenaway, A.M. and Dennis, P.F. (1998) Combined carbon isotope and C/N ratios as indicators of source and fate of organic matter in a poorly flushed, tropical estuary: Hunts bay, Kingston harbour, Jamaica. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 46:743-756
Andrews, J.E., Singhvi, A.K., Kailath, A.J., Kuhn, R., Dennis, P.F., Tandon, S.K. and Dihr, R.P. (1998) Do strable isotope data from calcrete record late Pleistocene monsoonal climate variation in the Thar Desert of India. Quaternary Research 50: 240-251
Green, A.R., Feast, N.A., Hiscock, K.M. and Dennis, P.F. (1998) Identification of the source and fate of nitrate contamination of the Jersey bedrock aquifer using stable nitrogen isotopes. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 130: 23-35;
Grischek, T., Hiscock, K.M., Metschies, T., Dennis, P.F. and Nestler, W. (1998) Factors affecting denitrification during infiltration of river water into a sand and gravel aquifer in Saxony, Germany. Water Research 32: 450-460
Heywood, K.J., Locarnini, R.A., Frew, R.D., Dennis, P.F. and King, B.A. (1998) Transport and water masses of the Antarctic Slope Front System in the Eastern Weddell Sea. In: Jacobs, S.S. and Weiss, R.F., Editors. Ocean, Ice, and Atmosphere Interactions at the Antarctic Continental Margin, Antarctic Research Series. American Geophyscial Union, Washington: 203–214.
McArdle, N., Liss, P. and Dennis, P.F. (1998) An isotopic study of atmospheric sulphur at three sites in Wales and at Mace Head, Eire. Journal of Geophysical Research 103(D23): 31,079-31,094
Meredith, M.P.. Grose, K, McDonagh, E., Heywood, K., Frew, R. and Dennis, P. (1998) The distribution of oxygen isotopes in the water masses of Drake Passage and the South Atlantic. Journal of Geophysical Research 104(C9): 20,949
Muhlherr, I., Hiscock, K.M., Dennis, P.F. and Feast, N.A. (1998) Changes in groundwater chemistry due to rising groundwater levels in the London basin between 1963 and 1994. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 130: 47-62
Andrews, J.E., Greenaway, A.M., Bigg, G.R., Webber, D.F., Dennis, P.F. and Guthrie, G.A. (1999) Pollution history of a tropical estuary revealed by combined hydrodynamic modelling and sediment geochemistry. Journal of Marine Systems 18:333-343
Dennis, P.F., Etchells, A. and Blomfield, D. (1999) Liquid nitrogen autofill for temperature controlled cryogenic traps. Review of Scientific Instruments 70: 3778-3780
Feast, N.A., Hiscock, K.M. and Dennis, P.F.  and Andrews, J.N. (1999) Nitrogen isotope hydrochemistry and denitrification within the chalk aquifer system of north Norfolk, U.K. Journal of Hydrology 211: 233-252
Meredith, M.P., Heywood, K.J., Frew, R.D. and Dennis, P.F. (1999) Formation and circulation of the water masses between the southern Indian Ocean and Antarctica: Results from d18O. Journal of Marine Research 57: 449-470
White, R.M.P., Dennis, P.F. and Atkinson, T.C. (1999) Experimental calibration and field investigation of the oxygen isotopic fractionation between biogenic aragonite and water. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 13: 1242-1247
Andrews, J.E., Pedley, M. and Dennis, P.F. (2000) Palaeoenvironmental records in Holocene Spanish tufas: a stable isotope approach in search of reliable climatic archives. Sedimentology 47: 961-978
Andrews, J.E., Samways, G., Dennis, P.F. and Maher, B.A. (2000) Origin, abundance and storage of organic carbon and sulphur in the Holocene Humber Estuary: emphasizing human impact on storage changes. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 166: 145-170
Frew, R.D., Dennis, P.F., Heywood, K.J., Meredith, M.P. and Boswell, S.M. (2000) The oxygen isotope composition of water masses in the northern North Atlantic. Deep Sea Research 47: 2265-2280
Huggett, J., Dennis, P.F. and Gale, A. (2000) Geochemistry of early siderite cements from the Eocene succession of Whitecliff Bay, Hampshire Basin, U.K. Journal of Sedimentary Research 70: 1107-1117
Andrews, J.E., Greenaway, A.M., Dennis, P.F. and Barnes-Leslie, D.A. (2001) Isotopic effects on inorganic carbon in a tropical river caused by caustic discharges from bauxite processing. Applied Geochemistry 16: 197-206
Dennis, P.F., Rowe, P.J. and Atkinson, T.C. (2001) The recovery and isotopic measurement of water from fluid inclusions in speleothems. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 65: 871-884
Maher, B.A. and Dennis, P.F. (2001) Evidence against dust-mediated control of glacial-intergalcial changes in atmospheric CO2. Nature 411: 176-180
Meredith, M., Heywood, K., Dennis, P., Goldson, L., White, R., Fahrbach, E., Schauer, U. and Osterhus, S. (2001) Freshwater fluxes through the western Fram Strait. Geophysical Research Letters 28: 1615-1618
Yeatman, S.G., Spokes, L.J., Dennis, P.F. and Jickells, T.D. (2001) Comparisons of aerosol nitrogen isotopic composition at two polluted coastal sites. Atmospheric Environment 35: 1307-1320
Yeatman, S.G., Spokes, L.J., Dennis, P.F. and Jickells, T.D. (2001) Can the study of nitrogen isotopic composition in size-segregated aerosol nitrate and ammonium be used to investigate atmospheric processing mechanisms. Atmospheric Environment 35: 1337-1345
Robinson, S.A., Andrews, J.E., Hesselbo, S.P., Radley, J.D., Dennis, P.F., Harding, I.C. and Allen, P. (2002) Atmospheric pCO2 and depositional environment from stable-isotope geochemistry of calcrete nodules (Barremian, Lower Cretaceous, Wealden Beds, England). Journal of the Geological Society, London 159: 215-224
Hiscock, K.M., Bateman, A.S., Muehlherr, I., Fukada, T. and Dennis, P.F. (2003) Significance of indirect emissions of nitrous oxide from regional aquifers in the UK. Environmental Science and Technology 37: 3507-3512
T. D. Jickells, S.D. Kelly, K.Biswas A. Baker, P.F. Dennis, L.J. Spokes, M. Witt, S. G. Yeatman (2003) “Isotopic Evidence for a Marine Ammonia Source”, Geophysical Research Letters,. 30 No. 7, 1374, doi: 10.1029/2002GL016728
Andrews, J.E., Coletta, P., Pentecost, A., Riding, R., Dennis, S., Dennis, P.F. and Spiro, B. (2004) Equilibrium and disequilibrium stable isotope effects in modern charophyte calcites: implications for palaeoenvironmental studies. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 204: 101-114
Fukada, T., Hiscock, K.M. and Dennis, P.F. (2004) A dual-isotope approach to the nitrogen hydrochemistry of an urban aquifer. Applied Geochemistry 19: 709-719
Garnett, E.R., Andrews, J.E., Preece, R.P. and Dennis, P.F. (2004) Climatic change recorded by stable isotopes and trace elements in a British Holocene tufa. Journal of Quaternary Science 19: 251-262
Pentecost, A., Andrews, J.E., Dennis, P.F., Marca-Bell, A. and Dennis, S. (2006) Charophyte growth in small temperate water bodies: Extreme isotopic disequilibrium and implications for the palaeoecology of shallow marl lakes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatolgy, Palaeoecology 240: 389-404
Ingram, R.G.S., Hiscock, K.M. and Dennis, P.F. (2007) Noble gas excess air applied to distinguish groundwater recharge conditions. Environment, Science and Technology 41: 1949-1955
Fuller, L., Baker, A., Fairchild, I.J., Spotl, C., Marca-Bell, A., Rowe, P.J. and Dennis, P.F. (2008) Isotope hydrology of dripwaters in a Scottish cave and implications for stalagmite palaeoclimate research. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. 5: 547-577
Harwood, A.J.P., Dennis, P.F., Marca, A.D., Pilling, G.M. and Millner, R.S. (2008) The oxygen isotope composition of water masses within the North Sea. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 78:353-359.
Mani, F., Dennis, P.F., Sturges, W.M., Mulvaney, R. and Leuenberger, M. (2008) An improved method for d15N measurements in ice cores. Climates of the Past Discuss. 4: 149-171
Woolhouse, G., Andrews, J.E., Marca-Bell, A. and Dennis, P.F. (2008) Geochemical constraints on the origin of enigmatic cemented Chalks, Norfolk, UK. Geological Magazine :in press
Brasier, A.T., Andrews, J.E., Marca-Bell, A.D. and Dennis, P.F. (2008) Depositional continuity of seasonally laminated tufas: implications for d18O based palaeotemperatures. Geology :submitted
Dennis, P.F., Marca-Bell, A.M. and Mani, F. (2008) The role of O2 in limiting precision in isotopic and molecular ratio measurements when using air as an analyte gas in isotope ratio mass spectrometers. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry in preparation
Thomas, E.R., Dennis, P., Franzke, C. and Bracegirdle, T., 2009, Ice core evidence for significant 100-year regional warming on the Antarctic Peninsula. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L20704
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