Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES)
Dr Anthony Butcher
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth
As a biostratigraphical palynologist, I use organic-walled microfossils to establish the age of geological strata, and apply these data to solving geological problems. A particular area of specialisation is the use of chitinozoans (an extinct group of palynomorph) for the dating of Palaeozoic strata, and the recognition of Silurian hydrocarbon source rocks. Palynology is an extremely versatile type of micropalaeontology, and can be used not only to date strata but also as a proxy for sea level change, climate, ecology, and salinity.
I also run the School’s microscopy suite (light and electron microscopes), and have recently taken over as the School Education Liaison Officer, working on outreach links between the University of Portsmouth and schools/colleges in the local area.
I teach on a number of units at different levels, including classes on geological mapping techniques, sedimentology, principles of electron microscopy, palaeontological techniques, and palaeobotany. I also contribute to and teach upon a large number of fieldtrips that incorporate a wide variety of geological field techniques such as sedimentary logging, lithological description, geological mapping, and various other data and sample collection methods. I enjoy teaching the various subjects, and take particular interest in ensuring that students obtain the correct approaches and techniques needed to improve their employability upon graduation.
A large proportion of my time is also spent aiding students and staff in the use of our microscope facilities for their class work, final year dissertations, and research, and also in co-ordinating and conducting outreach activities as part of the School’s Education Liaison and Widening Participation programmes.
- 2010 - present: Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth
- 2008 - 2009: Senior Research Fellow, University of Portsmouth
- 2005 - 2008: Postdoctoral research projects, externally funded by ENI
- 1998 - 2005: PhD, University of Portsmouth (part-time)
- 1995 - 1998: BSc (Hons) Geology, University of Portsmouth
The research undertaken for my PhD comprised a study of chitinozoans from the lower Silurian strata of Illinois, USA, and Jordan, Middle East, allowing for correlation between two different palaeocontinents during this time (Laurentia and Northern Gondwana). The chitinozoans recovered were generally very abundant and well-preserved, and two new species were recognized. Following this were a two-year and a one-year postdoctoral research project, externally funded by the Italian oil company ENI, concerning the study of chitinozoans, acritarchs, and carbon isotope data from a hydrocarbon source rock in a drill core from south-west Libya. These data have now been published, or have been submitted for publication.
Current research projects include high-resolution chitinozoan biostratigraphical studies of sections and core material from the American mid-west, North Africa and the Middle East, as well as industry-funded consultancy work. Collaborations are also being formed with colleagues within SEES to widen the applications of palynology to other fields outside of biostratigraphy (e.g. climate and sea-level changes).
During my research, field conferences and fieldtrips, I have collected and processed a large number of lithological samples from a variety of rock formations and localities (some of these being collected on my honeymoon to Malaysia...). The palynological residues from these samples have yielded a wide variety of palynomorphs, which are providing the basis of a number of research papers in the near future.