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Philip L. Gibbard

PG Professor Philip L. Gibbard BSc PhD Docent PhD (h.c.) ScD FGS

Cambridge Quaternary
Department of Geography
University of Cambridge
Downing Place
Cambridge CB2 3EN
England, UK

Phone +44 1223 333924
Fax +44 1223 333392
plg1@cam.ac.uk


Developments and news

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Current Positions

Phil is Professor of Quaternary Palaeoenvironments in the Department of Geography , and a founding member of the Godwin Institute of Quaternary Research (since January 1995) now Cambridge Quaternary. He is concurrently a Docent (Adjunct Professor) in the Division of Geology and Palaeontology, Department of Geology, University of Helsinki , where he contributes to the teaching of Quaternary Geology.

Phil leads the Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group which is a component of the Cambridge Quaternary institute , and he was Principal Investigator for the multinational EC-funded BALTEEM project which is characterising Balt ic environments during the last interglacial (Eem ian, ca . 128, 000 years ago).

Research interests and activities

Phil's main interest is in Pleistocene and Neogene Geology, sedimentation and the construction of stratigraphy using appropriate litho-, bio- and chronostratigraphical methods to establish the changing palaeogeography and palaeoenvironment for any particular area.

Within this general field the following topics hold particular interest:

As a geologist, Phil is principally involved with the Quaternary and late Neogene, including its palaeogeographical and palaeoenvironmental evolution, with interests spanning the terrestrial (glacial, fluvial and lacustrine) and shallow marine realms. His studies have mainly focused on Europe, but he has conducted research in North America, the Mediterranean, South Asia and South America. His approach is based on the rigorous stratigraphy of sedimentary sequences, using a wide range of techniques, and its purpose is to develop detailed frameworks which have provided the basis for palaeoenvironmental, palaeoecological and palaeogeographical reconstructions.

Phil's work in Britain has mainly been on the stratigraphy, sedimentology and palaeoenvironments of Quaternary and late Neogene sediments in southern England and adjacent areas. His particular interest has been on the interaction of glaciation, rivers, lakes and the sea, and began with thesis research (supervised by Professor R.G. West ) that unravelled the River Thames' diversion from a course through East Anglia to that through London. Detailed stratigraphical schemes have since been developed for the Thames' drainage system, and this work has been influential in encouraging others to adopt similar approaches to drainage history studies in other regions. The work provides a foundation, not only for geologists, but for archaeologists, palaeontologists and engineers.

In association with this work, Phil has undertaken many collaborative, palaeoenvironmental investigations. This multidisciplinary approach has demonstrated the sheer quality of detail that is potentially achievable from the investigation of Quaternary sequences. His current work involves continuity of these approaches Britain, offshore areas, especially the Channel, and neighbouring countries.

Phil's interest in stratigraphy of the North Sea basin, has led to co-operation with colleagues at the Netherlands' Geological Survey and at the Free University of Amsterdam, Universities of Amsterdam, Leiden and Utrecht. This work concerns the Plio-Pleistocene of the Rhine-Maas system. Other research includes the study of interglacial and related shallow marine sediments in Denmark, with colleagues at the Universities of Aarhus and Copenhagen, which has shown the potential for unravelling geological, oceanographic and climatic events in the Baltic basin. In recognition, the EC funded the BALTEEM project (1 million Ecu) to further this work. Phil was the group co-ordinator, with Danish, Norwegian, Finnish partners, and Estonian, Polish, Latvian, Russian and Australian colleagues.

In 1997, Phil initiated the bi-lateral Projet Groupe Manche (with Prof J.P Lautridou, Prof J.L. Lagarde and colleagues, CNRS, Caen Morphodynamique Continentale et Côtière" - M2C ), to understand the development of the Channel region. This work is still continuing. He is investigating lacustrine and fluvial deposition in northern and central Italy with Italian colleagues, and is also working on Holocene coastal evolution in SW Thailand with Dr J. Stargardt (Department of Geography, University of Cambridge), Dr R. Morley (Palynova Ltd), Dr B. Horton (University of Pennsylvania) and Thai colleagues. At present, Professor M. J. Head (previously in our laboratory) and Phil are investigating the potential of Pleistocene dinoflagellate cyst assemblages in the North and Baltic seas.

In Europe, Phil's interest in glaciation has continued through interaction with Jürgen Ehlers, with whom he has published three books. They were most recently joint co-ordinators of an INQUA Commission on Glaciation workgroup which compiled an atlas of world Quaternary glaciation limits (the group has 250 contributors in 46 countries). The three volumes on Europe, North America and Rest of the World were published in 2004 (Europe: March; North America and Rest of the World : July) (Ehlers & Gibbard, 2004 a, b, c). An updated second edition of this compilation was published in 2011.

Phil (2004) initiated the EREP project on the evolution of major European rivers through the last 3 million years, with colleagues from eastern Europe. The aim of this project is to revise that published in 1988, and updated here , while extending the mapping to cover eastern Europe, almost to the Urals, and south to the Alps. In the future the mapping may be extended further south, if time permits. The project will map the courses of the major river systems for a series of time-slices, on the same basemaps as those used for the glaciation project (above) to ensure compatibility of the reconstructions. He is now participating in TOPO-WECEP project in which he co-ordinates the RIVERS subproject. Phil has continued his interest in the evolution of river systems and their responses to climate changes through co-operation with Professor J.Lewin (Aberystwyth and Worcester). Recently Phil has been co-operating with Indian colleagues on the investigation of river systems in western S. India.

Phil has worked with visiting scholar Dr Kim Cohen on a global database on fluvial activity in the Last Glacial Maximum, the Late Glacial and Holocene. The project was funded by the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, research group Palaeoclimatology (Jena, Germany). The project served the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project ( PMIP ) jointly with Dr Sandy Harrison (University of Bristol).

In addition to work on the Quaternary, Phil has also worked with an international team on Neogene terrestrial sedimentation in Turkey and participated bi-lateral work in China led by Professor L. Zhou (Beijing) and Professor M. Fortelius (Helsinki). He completed a review of the evidence for the drainage development of southern Britain during the Tertiary , with Professor J. Lewin (Aberystwyth and Worchester).

Phil's interest in the application of stratigraphical principles is reflected in his membership of the national Geological Society Stratigraphical Commission , the INQUA Subcommission of European Quaternary Stratigraphy (for whom he has jointly organised seven meetings), the British Geological Survey Advisory Committee on Stratigraphy, and his election as the Secretary of the INQUA Commission on Stratigraphy (1999-2003); he was an ex-officio member of the INQUA-SACCOM Commission (2003-2011) and now chairs SACCOM (since 2011). He also chaired the International Commission on Stratigraphy's Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy from 2002-2012.

More generally, Phil has organised many discussion and field meetings, led excursions for overseas groups, worked with BBC and independent television and radio, and lectured to local geological societies. He has served as Vice-President, Secretary and an Executive Committee member of the Quaternary Research Association , and was the chair of the Joint Association for Quaternary Research. He edited the Association's international Journal of Quaternary Science for 5 years and was on the editorial board from its foundation (1985-2007). Phil is also a member of the editorial boards of the Netherlands Journal of Geosciences , Boreas, the new journal Geoheritage, the Italian journal Alpine and Mediterranean Quaternary, the German journal Eiszeitalter und Gegenwart, the french-language journal, Quaternaire and the INQUA journal Quaternary International (2013-). He was also a member of the editorial board of Geological Magazine(1996-2006), the Bulletin de la Société géologique de France (2004-2008), Geological Quarterly (2003-2009), and an Advisory Editor of the Journal of the Geological Society of London (2001-2008). He has served as the Quaternary representative on the NERC ESPRC (1996-9), has chaired several NERC committees, and has served on a CNRS panel to review geological research in France. In 2009 Phil also participated in a QANU (Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities) committee to review the research in Earth Sciences of three universities in the Netherlands (Delft University of Technology, Utrecht University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). He participated in a review committee of the Geological Institute of the University of Innsbruck in Austria in October 2012.

Teaching

As well as contributing to the Geographical Tripos, Phil contributes to Cambridge's M.Phil in Environmental Science. He also teaches regularly at the University of Helsinki , and has undertaken many external examining tasks, particularly for doctorates or higher doctorates (Habilitations), in Britain, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Finland.

Honours

April 1999 - Geological Society - awarded Lyell Fund prize "for excellence in Quaternary Geology".
June 2001 – Professeur associé – Université de Caen-Basse Normandie, Caen, France.
June 2002 – Chercheur associé du CNRS - CNRS UMR-6143 M2C, Caen, France.
May-June 2007 – Visiting Professor - University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria.
September 2007 - Professeur associé – Université de Caen-Basse Normandie, Caen, France.
May 2008 - Professeur associé – Université de Caen-Basse Normandie, Caen, France.
May 2010 - Honorary Doctorate degree (PhD honoris causa) - University of Helsinki (Helsingin Yliopisto), Finland.
April 2014 - Awarded the 2014 André Dumont Medal by Geologica Belgica, the Belgian national geological society, in Ghent. In recognition of Phil's achievements in Quaternary Geology.

Recent research articles

word pre-1996 publications.

Recent books and edited volumes

Article published for colleague

Consultant for children's publication

Charts

Web publications

Websites maintained

Projects

Photo-gallery

For gallery, please click image.

Tjörnes 2010

Phil at the Tjörnes cliffs in northern Iceland on 30.07.10 (photograph by Ann Jennison).