Photo of Mr James Barnet

Mr James Barnet




My main academic research interests involve palaeoclimatic and palaeoceanographic change using stable carbon and oxygen isotope (δ13C and δ18O) records from benthic foraminiferal carbonate and the TEX86 organic geochemistry technique, with a focus on the early Palaeogene period of climatic warming.

I am working with Dr. Kate Littler and studying at the Camborne School of Mines at the Penryn Campus, University of Exeter, with co-supervisors at the University of Edinburgh (Prof. Dick Kroon) and University of Plymouth (Dr. Stephen Grimes).

I will be constructing a high-resolution 5 Myr-long benthic stable carbon and oxygen isotope (δ13C and δ18O) record from foraminiferal carbonate recovered from ODP Site 1262 (Walvis Ridge, South Atlantic), to investigate the coupled changes to Earth's carbon cycle and palaeoclimate during the latest Maastrichtian to mid Palaeocene (~67-60.5 Ma). This time interval is characterised by a long-term global cooling trend during the Late Cretaceous-Early Palaeocene, followed by the initiation of global warming from the mid Palaeocene to the Early Eocene culminating in the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO).

During this interval there is evidence for multiple poorly-constrained transient "hyperthermal" (extreme greenhouse) events and coincident Calcite Compensation Depth (CCD) shifts of a smaller magnitude than the well-documented Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). When combined with existing Palaeocene-Eocene data from Site 1262, this new record will provide a continuous high-resolution benthic stable isotope record spanning 14.5 Myr from the onset to climax of the early Palaeogene greenhouse.

Later in 2015, I will be working on Palaeocene Sea Surface Temperature (SST) estimates based on Mg/Ca and B/Ca ratios in planktic foraminifera, using recently collected (January 2015) IODP core material from the Indian Ocean. Contemporaneous outcrop samples will also be collected from the Zumaia section in northern Spain and analysed using the TEX86 palaeotemperature proxy, to reconstruct SST estimates in the North Atlantic during the onset of this major warming period. These local SST estimates from the Indian Ocean and North Atlantic will complement the benthic (i.e. global) isotope signature from the South Atlantic, providing a more complete depiction of variability within the enigmatic Palaeocene climate.


I have previously obtained 6 years' experience in the oil industry, where I was involved with consultancy projects evaluating the hydrocarbon potential of predominantly frontier basins in the following countries and geographic areas:

  • Papua New Guinea (Papuan & Cape Vogel basins)
  • Eastern Mediterranean (Levantine Basin)
  • China (Bohai Basin)
  • Arctic (Laptev, East Siberian & Chukchi shelves, Arctic Ocean)
  • Siberia (Yenisey-Khatanga, Anabar, Lena-Vilyuy & Tunguska basins)
  • Russian Far East (North Sakhalin, West Kamchatka, Anadyr & Khatyrka basins).

These projects involved both public domain and proprietary wireline log, organic geochemistry, petrophysical, seismic and lithological data.

I obtained my first degree from the University of Southampton in 2008, where I studied the 4-year Master of Geology (MGeol) course. My Masters dissertation involved the study of palaeo-environmental and palaeoclimatic change during the PETM and Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 (ETM 2) "hyperthermal" climatic episodes within the marine Central Spitsbergen Basin on Svalbard. I performed a diverse suite of research techniques on self-collected outcrop samples, including:

  • Palynology - to assess freshwater input and phytoplankton productivity
  • Bulk & clay mineral X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) - to determine weathering regimes (palaeoclimate) on the adjacent hinterland
  • Total Organic Carbon (TOC) - proxy for redox state of the bottom waters and phytoplankton productivity
  • δ13Corg - to identify perturbations to the global carbon cycle


I am the author of a geologically-themed walking guidebook to the Fort William area in western Scotland:

I delivered presentations at a number of international geoscience conferences during my time in industry, including:

  • Using Onshore Geology to Predict the Hydrocarbon Potential of a Frontier Arctic Region - The Laptev Shelf, East Arctic, 2012, EAGE Russian Geoscience Conference, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, April 2012, Extended Abstract, 4p.
  • Using Onshore Geology to Create an Informed Prediction of the Hydrocarbon Potential of a Frontier Offshore Arctic Region: The Laptev Shelf, East Arctic, 2011, AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90130, The Polar Petroleum Potential Conference & Exhibition, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 30 August-2 September 2011, 1p.
  • Early Jurassic (Toarcian) Source Rocks  of the Circum-Arctic: Utilising Sequence Stratigraphy to Enhance Understanding and Prediction, 2010, Arctic Energy Conference, Tromso, Norway, June 2010.