Ocean Circulation and the Iceland Plume

Ocean circulation modulated by the Iceland mantle plume and Greenland Icesheet - Using geophysical datasets to chronicle water mass exchange across the Greenland-Scotland Ridge

Degree type


Closing date

1 February 2024



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

The Iceland mantle plume is thought to have played a key role in modulating Northern Hemisphere climate over the past 30 million years. It does this by controlling the depth of key ocean 'gateways' affecting global ocean circulation patterns.

Sediment drifts in the North Atlantic provide a high-resolution record of the pathways and strengths of different strains of this ocean-bottom circulation. In mid-2023, three sediment drifts will be drilled to collect sediment cores and high-resolution downhole-logging datasets investigating the late Cenozoic sedimentation regime in the North Atlantic. The PhD research will involve detailed analysis of wire-line logging datasets as well as physical properties collected on drill cores and seismic reflection data aiming to develop a detailed chronology of drift sedimentation across the North Atlantic highlighting the influence of the Iceland plume as well as the Northern hemisphere glaciation on ocean current and sedimentation patterns.

Depending on the candidates interests this project can evolve to include a climate- or ocean-modelling component. The candidate will be advised by an international team including International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Exp. 395 science party members. The project will be fully integrated in the post-expedition research of IODP Exp. 395 and the candidate is expected to participate in onshore core scanning and sampling in IODP core repositories (USA, Germany) and research visits to international collaboration partners.

The Greenland-Iceland-Scotland ridge between the Nordic Seas and the North Atlantic experiences multiple closing and opening events throughout the Cenozoic. The Iceland mantle plume periodically uplifts Iceland and the surrounding region, physically blocking deep water exchange across the ridge. Since the Pliocene, the overflow across the ridge is tightly connected to the Northern hemisphere ice sheets. Both these scenarios cause a reorganization of deep-water formation making the Greenland-Iceland-Scotland ridge a pacemaker of global ocean circulation.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Katharina Hochmuth


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $32,192 per annum (2024 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only.

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to applicants from a earth sciences or related backgrounds
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Degree in earth sciences or a related discipline
  • General interest in paleooceanography

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Previous experience using geophysical software packages

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Katharina Hochmuth to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 1 February 2024.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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