This PhD position will be based within the Environmental Geochemistry & Mineralogy group of Prof Ed Burton (Environmental Geochemistry and Mineralogy Group (EGM)). This group forms part of the vibrant Southern Cross GeoScience research centre, based at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus in eastern Australia. Further details on the benefits of living and working in this beautiful part of the world can be found at Southern Cross GeoScience - Future students.
Background: Arsenic is a commonly encountered environmental contaminant. It is particularly problematic in acidic, sulfate-rich soil/water systems that form as a result of iron sulfide oxidation in, for example, drained wetlands and mining waste. This project aims to advance our understanding on arsenic’s environmental geochemistry by carefully unravelling interactions with the distinct iron minerals that form in acidic, sulfate-rich environments (such as acid mine drainage and acid sulfate soils). This will build on our world-class research described, for example, in:
Iron and sulfur cycling in acid sulfate soil wetlands under dynamic redox conditions: A review;
Antimony and arsenic speciation, redox-cycling and contrasting mobility in a mining-impacted river system;
Antimony and arsenic partitioning during Fe2+-induced transformation of jarosite under acidic conditions; and
Sulfate Availability Drives Divergent Evolution of Arsenic Speciation during Microbially Mediated Reductive Transformation of Schwertmannite.
Activities: This scholarship and associated funding represents an opportunity to complete a PhD and conduct a program of research at the interface of environmental geochemistry and soil/water science. As part of a larger team, the successful candidate will contribute to the development of novel approaches to investigate the environmental behaviour of arsenic in soil, sediment and aquatic systems. You will conduct laboratory experiments and field studies on how mineral-microbe interactions influence arsenic behaviour, using state-of-the-art experimental and analytical techniques including stable isotope tracers, synchrotron spectroscopy, Mössbauer spectroscopy, and others. You will also have the opportunity to travel the world in order to work with our collaborators in Europe, Asia and North America, and to present your discoveries at international scientific conferences.
Outcomes: At Southern Cross University, we are committed to provide our students with expert knowledge and practical experiences that equip them for their future roles as leaders in their discipline and community. Our PhD projects are embedded in cutting-edge research that answers unsolved questions and applies knowledge in new, creative and practical ways. The specific outcomes from this PhD project will have direct implications for rehabilitation of arsenic-contaminated landscapes and sustainable management of arsenic in the mining industry. More broadly, this project will expand our understanding of the effects of environmental change on metal-mineral interactions in soil systems, and will allow better management of chemicals in the environment.