Dr David Kemp

KEMP profilephotoVisiting academic

Current position: Lecturer, University of Aberdeen




Following on from my  NERC Research Fellowship working at the Open University, I have recently been appointed as a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen.  Since completing my PhD, I have held a Junior Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and a PDRA position at University College London. I have also worked in industry as a palaeoclimatologist and sequence stratigrapher.


My research is focused on understanding the geochemical, sedimentological, and stratigraphical responses to climate change in the geologic record. I also use astrochronologic methods to establish the rates and timing of ancient episodes of abrupt global environmental change, and to improve the geologic timescale. My interests further extend to investigating the nature of the stratigraphic record and the design and application of numerical methods in stratigraphic analysis.

Current research projects

  • Astronomical forcing and rapid climate change in the Jurassic (NERC Fellowship NE/I02089X/1). I’m investigating the role astronomical forcing played in pacing the timing and magnitude of hyperthermals and putative “cold-snap” events in the Jurassic. This work involves employing a wide-range of geochemical proxies to establish the precise nature of Jurassic climate change, and coupling these proxy records with high-resolution astronomical timescales. A key focus of the work is elucidating the effects of these Jurassic events on continental climate through analysis of Os-isotopes, clay-bound O-isotopes, and organic geochemistry.
  • The sedimentary record of continental palaeoclimate change. I sailed as a NERC funded sedimentologist/stratigraphic correlator on IODP Expedition 317 to the Canterbury Basin (New Zealand) as part of a team looking at the sedimentary responses to large-scale eustatic and climatic changes through the Cenozoic. I am using clay mineral analyses and novel spectrophotometric methods to investigate changes in the nature and flux of continental weathering in the Southern Alps through the Pleistocene.
  • ‘Big Data’ style approaches for understanding the global response of sedimentary systems to palaeoenvironmental change. I have been working with Peter Sadler at University of California, Riverside, USA to investigate the utility of large compilations (>104 data points) of sediment accumulation rates for gaining holistic, globally representative insights into the response of sedimentary systems to climatic and eustatic change. Some of this work was recently published in the March issue of Sedimentology 2014.
  • Numerical modelling of stratigraphic systems. I’m interested in the way climate signals become preserved in the stratigraphic record, and the extent to which the record itself represents a limiting factor in our ability to discern palaeoclimate. Notably, I am interested in how well short-term (i.e. millennial and sub-millennial) events and astronomical cycles are preserved stratigraphically. Publications arising from this work include Kemp 2010 and Kemp 2012.

Recent publications