An example of some ongoing research projects:

Archean – Paleoproterozoic

Investigating mechanisms of BIF generation and the associated drawdown of bio-essential metals and phosphate, to understand patterns of nutrient availability during early microbial evolution.


Constraining phosphorous cycling in ferruginous basins and potential controls on the environmental distribution of early eukaryotes.

Neoproterozoic – Palaeozoic

Tracking changes in oxygen availability on marine shelves to constrain the amount of habitable space during the rise of animal life.

Modern systems

Quantifying global fluxes in biogeochemical cycles in the modern ocean and terrestrial lakes and rivers.


Field work

We collect outcrop and core material, alongside detailed logs and geobiological data, and characterise it using petrography, as well as analytical techniques such as XRD and FTIR.

Sedimentary geochemistry

We apply a range of geochemical proxies to sediment samples, including isotopes (carbon, oxygen, sulfur, uranium, calcium and others) and trace metals (Fe speciation, REEs).

Experimental geochemistry

We recreate chemical sediments in the lab, synthesising minerals and quantifying their nucleation rates, solubility, and sorption properties using an anoxic glove box, solution analysis (spectrophotometry, ICP-MS and ICP-OES) and synchrotron techniques (XAS and nano-IR) .

Algal culturing

We test geobiological hypotheses directly, by culturing algae in synthetic seawater and monitoring growth rates and metabolic health using a coulter counter, a plate reader, SEM and cell digests.


Johnson, B. R., Tostevin, R., Gopon, P., Wells, J., Robinson, S. A., Tosca, N. J., 2019.  Phosphorus burial in ferruginous SiO2-rich Mesoproterozoic sediments . Geology. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Bradbury, H. J., Shields, G. A., Wood, R. A., Bowyer, F., Penny, A., Turchyn, A. V., 2019. Calcium isotopes as a record of the marine calcium cycle versus carbonate diagenesis during the late Ediacaran. Chemical Geology. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Poulton. S. W., 2019. Oxic Sediments. In: Gargaud M. et al. (eds) Encyclopedia of Astrobiology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Poulton. S. W., 2019. Suboxic Sediments. In: Gargaud M. et al. (eds) Encyclopedia of Astrobiology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. Download / Website

He, T., Zhu, M., Mills, B. J. W., Wynn, P. M., Zhuravlev, A. Y., Tostevin, R., Pogge von Strandmann, P. A. E., Yang, A., Poulton, S., and Shields, G. A., 2019. Possible links between extreme oxygen perturbations and the Cambrian radiation of animals. Nature Geoscience. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Clarkson, M.O., Gangl, S., Shields, G.A., Wood, R.A., Bowyer, F., Penny, A.M. and Stirling, C.H., 2019. Uranium isotope evidence for an expansion of anoxia in terminal Ediacaran oceans. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 506, pp.104-112. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., He, T., Turchyn, A. V., Wood, R. A., Penny, A. M., Bowyer, F., Antler, G. & Shields, G. A., 2017. Constraints on the late Ediacaran sulfur cycle from carbonate associated sulfate. Precambrian Research. Download / Website

Penny, A. M., Wood, R. A., Zhuravlev,  A. Y., Curtis, A., Bowyer, F., Tostevin, R., 2017. Intraspecific variation in an Ediacaran skeletal metazoan: Namacalathus from the Nama Group, Namibia. Geobiology. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Wood, R.A., Shields, G.A., Poulton, S.W., Guilbaud, R., Bowyer, F., Penny, A.M., He, T., Curtis, A., Hoffmann, K.H. and Clarkson, M.O., 2016. Low-oxygen waters limited habitable space for early animals. Nature Communications, 7. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Shields, G. A., Tarbuck, G. M., He, T., Clarkson, M. O., & Wood, R. A., 2016. Effective use of cerium anomalies as a redox proxy in carbonate-dominated marine settings. Chemical Geology, 438, 146-162. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Craw, D., Van Hale, R., & Vaughan, M., 2016. Sources of environmental sulfur in the groundwater system, southern New Zealand. Applied Geochemistry, 70, 1-16. Download / Website

Wood, R.A., Poulton, S.W., Prave, A.R., Hoffmann, K.H., Clarkson, M.O., Guilbaud, R., Lyne, J.W., Tostevin, R., Bowyer, F., Penny, A.M. and Curtis, A., 2015. Dynamic redox conditions control late Ediacaran metazoan ecosystems in the Nama Group, Namibia. Precambrian Research, 261, pp.252-271. Download / Website

Penny, A.M., Wood, R., Curtis, A., Bowyer, F., Tostevin, R. and Hoffman, K.H., 2014. Ediacaran metazoan reefs from the Nama Group, Namibia. Science, 344(6191), pp.1504-1506. Download / Website

Tostevin, R., Turchyn, A.V., Farquhar, J., Johnston, D.T., Eldridge, D.L., Bishop, J.K. and McIlvin, M., 2014. Multiple sulfur isotope constraints on the modern sulfur cycle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 396, pp.14-21. Download / Website

Data Access

All data related to the Nama Group can be accessed in the NERC data repository (DOI: 10.5285/3b57c988-068d-42bb-b601-ff7ed4cabc77).

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