Professor Stephen Eggins

PhD (Geochemistry) University of Tasmania (1991)
ANU College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics and ANU College of Science
T: 61252487

Areas of expertise

  • Isotope Geochemistry 040203
  • Marine Geoscience 040305
  • Palaeoclimatology 040605
  • Chemical Oceanography 040502
  • Geochemistry 0402

Research interests

Using novel isotope and trace element approaches to solve problems in the Earth and environmental science, in particular understanding biomineralisation processes and how trace elements and isotopes are incorporated into the shells and skeletons of marine calcifiers. 

Developing and verifying geochemical proxies to reconstruct past changes in climate and ocean conditions.

Current research focus:

  1. Culture of marine calcifying organisms under controlled laboratory and monitored field conditions to determine responses in shell/skeleton chemistry to varied environmental conditions
  2. Measuring changes in ocean Ca chemistry to determine changes in calcification rates, dissolution and carbonate transfer within the ocean.
  3. Exploring ways to reverse the impact of rising atmosphere and ocean CO2 bthrough enhanced carbon transfer in terrestrial and marine environments.
  4. Using innovative microanalysis techniques to investigate biomineralization processes (eprobe, LA-ICPMS, microCT, TEM, FTIR, Raman, and epifluorescence microscopy).


BSc Applied Geology 1985 University of NSW

Phd Geochemistry 1991 University of Tasmania

I began my research career in igneous petrology and geochemistry with David H Green at the University of Tasmania, before moving to the ANU where I held an ARC postdoctoral fellowship in Maclcolm McCulloch's group. At ANU I developed novel ICPMS methods to make precise and accurate analysis of trace elements in basalts and mantle samples. The expertise in ICPMS then provided the foundation for developing the ANU's world leading HelEx laser ablation ICPMS technology in partnership with Michael Shelley and Les Kinsley. We pioneered the use of deep UV 193nm wavelengths, He as the ablation medium, and the two volume ablation cell design that has become widely adopted by manufacturers and research labroatories around the world. I have since focused on applying LA-ICPMS in novel ways to problems in environmental geochemistry, dating and reconstruction, and broader research in the area marine biogeochemistry and biomineralization, in particular with the goal of understanding fundamental  biomineralisation processes in marine calcifiers (especially foraminifera). I am particularly interested in how biomineralisation processes influence the incorporation of geochemical and isotopic proxies in the skeletons and shells of corals, molluscs and foraminifera and how this influences past ocean and climate reconstructions.

Available student projects

Biomineralization processes and geochemical proxy incorporation in corals and foraminifera. A range of laboratory and field based studies are available subject to student interests and background expertise.

Quantifying basalt weathering rates and effectiveness for carbon sequestration and soil regeneration across climate regimes in Australia.

Development of novel approaches to ultra-high speed chemical and isotopic mapping by laser ablation mass spectrometry (project offered in collaboration with Profs' Andrei Rode and Steve Madden, Research School of Physics and Engineering, ANU)


Current student projects

Box modelling approaches to determine changes in carbon cycling in the ocean based on palaeoceanographic proxy data and inverse techniques (Cameron O'Neill).

Development and calibration geochemcial and isotopic proxies in the estuarine bivalve Anadara trapezia for reconstucting rainfall and coastal development in eastern and southern Australia during the MIS5e and Holocene interglacials (Graham Nash)


Past student projects

The Boron Geochemistry of Biogenic Silica: Insights from Marine Sponges and Diatoms (Andrea de Leon now Researcher in the Office of the Chief Scientist)  

Assessing the impacts of ocean acidification, global warming and terrestrial runoff on the cross-shelf variability of coral calcification in the central Great Barrier Reef (Juan-Pablo D’Olivo-Cordera, now Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Western Australia)   

Advancing planktonic foraminifera Mg/Ca thermometry: a microanalytical perspective. (Aleksey Sadekov now Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia)

Conodont microgeochemistry: in-situ analysis of conodont histologies with implications for palaeoseawater chemistry (Julie Trotter now ARC Future Fellow at the University of Western Australia)

Petrology and geochemistry of the recent eruption history at Rabaul Caldera, Papua New Guinea : implications for magmatic processes and recurring volcanic activity (Herman Patia, Deputy Director Rabaul Volcano Observatory, PNG; 2005-2012)

In situ measurement of U-series disequilibria in iron oxy/hydroxides and its application to weathering geochronology (Juan-Pablo Bernal now Investigador Titular A - Professor of Geochemistry at the University Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  14 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers