Dr Tom Dunkley Jones

Tom Dunkley Jones

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Tom is a micropalaeontologist and paleoceanograher specializing in the study of fossil coccolithophore algae. His research interests are focused on the warm-climate states of the Paleogene period and include the use of coccolithophore assemblages and geochemical signatures as palaeoceanographic proxies. Tom is also interested in improving reconstructions of warm climate temperature proxy data, and their use in constraining palaeoclimate model simulations.

ResearcherID: A-8441-2008
Scopus Author ID: 55660519500

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2008 – PhD University College London

2001 – MSc Imperial College London

2000 – MSci, MA University of Cambridge


2001 – 2004 Hydrogeologist, Komex Europe, London

2004 - 2007 PhD Dept. Earth Sciences, University College London

2008 – 2009 PDRA Dept. of Geography, University College London; Dynamics of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

2010 – 2011 Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College, London

2012 – Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship and Birmingham Fellow, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham



The Micropalaeontological Society, Alan Higgins Award for Contributions to Applied Micropalaeontology (2012)

Geological Society of London, President’s Award for exceptional young geoscientists (2010)

The Micropalaeontological Society, Charles Downie Award, best paper from PhD research (2010)

Palaeontological Association Sylvester Bradley Award (2007)

Cushman Foundation Loeblich and Tappan Student Research Award (2005)


MSc Applied and Industrial Micropalaeontology:

  • Cenozoic Calcareous Nannofossils and Coccolithophore-based Paleoceanographic Proxies
  • Micropalaeontology

Postgraduate supervision

Lead Supervisor: 

  • Nursufiah Sulaiman (GEES) Response of coccolithophore communities to the Eocene/Oligocene transition, US Gulf Coast 
  • Frederike Wittkopp (GEES) Neogene to millennial scale evolution of the Asian Monsoon: the role of Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau uplift 
  • Ulrike Baranowski (GEES) Early Eocene Palaeoenvironmental and Tectonic Reconstructions of the Rockall Trough
  • Marcelo Mota (GEES) Palynological reconstructions of Cretaceous-Paleogene palaeoenvironments; US Gulf Coast & Brazilian Margin 
  • Zainab Al Rawahi (GEES) Biostratigraphy and Palaeoenvironments of the Natih Formation Oman 


  • Cherry Newsam (Earth Sciences, UCL; lead supervisor Prof. Paul Bown) Late Paleogene coccolithophore evolution 

Previous students: 

  • Katy Prentice (Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College) Developing coccolith Sr/Ca ratios as a palaeoproductivity proxy
  • Isabel Fenton (Division of Ecology and Evolution, Imperial College; lead supervisor Prof. Andy Purvis) Diversity and community processes in marine microplankton


Research interests

My research is concerned with understanding the evolution of the Earth's climate and marine ecosystems through the Cretaceous and Cenozoic, with a particular focus on the the use of fossil coccolithophore algae as proxies for palaeoenvironmental change.

I have ongoing research projects in the following areas:

  • the use of coccolithophore assemblages to constrain palaeoenvironmental and evolutionary change
  • the search for and use of exceptionally well-preserved microfossil and biomarker material for geochemical proxy analyses (Tanzania, US Gulf Coast, Rockall Trough, Brazil, Java)
  • the use of coccolith calcite chemistry (Sr/Ca and stable isotopes) as a palaeoenvironmental proxy, especially the SIMS analyses of single coccoliths
  • climate proxy data - climate model intercomparisons for the early Eocene (EoMIP and DeepMIP projects)
  • industry - academic collaborations for biostratigraphy and palaeoenvironmental analysis (Oman, Rockall Trough, Brazil)
  • IODP Expedition 320 (2009) Eastern Equatorial Pacific - E/O Boundary records - Shipboard Scientist
  • IODP Expedition 363 (2016) West Pacific Warm Pool - Miocene to Recent Coccolithophore assemblages and geochemistry - Shipboard Scientist
  • IODP pre-proposal 864 - Equatorial Atlantic Gateway - lead proponent

Research grants

2016 - £36,592 (equivalent; PI) NERC Life Science Mass Spectrometry Facility Grant: BRIS/89/0416 NE Atlantic SST in the early Eocene Climatic Optimum

2015 - £20,000 (equivalent; PI) NERC Stable Isotope Facility (NIGL): Climate and Carbon Cycle dynamics in the late Eocene ‘doubthouse’

2015 - £186,000 (Co-I) NERC Virtual Site Survey Pernambuco Plateau IODP pre-864

2014 - £15,000 (equivalent; PI) NERC Ion Microprobe Facility Grant: IMF524/0514 Cenozoic evolution of Braarudosphaera and ocean sediment chemistry

2013 - £40,000 (PI) University of Birmingham-University of Nottingham Strategic Collaboration Fund Antarctic ice-sheet controls on tropical Pacific nutrient cycling

2012-2013 - Royal Society Small Grant: Paleogene marine calcareous phytoplankton: ecological dynamics through rapid climate events and long-term macroevolution

2010-2013 - Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship

2012 - NERC Ion Microprobe Facility Grant:IMF743/1012 Trace metal constraints on coccolithophore calcification mechanisms

2011 - NERC Ion Microprobe Facility Grant: IMF420/1010 Surface ocean productivity through the Eocene/Oligocene transition using the Sr/Ca composition of coccolith calcite


For full list see: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9518-8143

Fenton I.S., Pearson P.N., Dunkley Jones T., Farnsworth A., Lunt D.J., Markwick P., Purvis A. (2016) The impact of Cenozoic cooling on assemblage diversity in planktonic foraminifera. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0224

Prentice, K, Dunkley Jones, T, Lees, J, Young, J, Bown, P, Langer, G, Fearn, S and Ion Microprobe Facility NERC. 2014. Trace metal (Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca) analyses of single coccoliths by Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2014.09.041

Meissner, K. J., Bralower, T., Alexander, K., Dunkley Jones, T., Sijp, W. and Ward, M. In press. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum: How much carbon is enough? Paleoceanography. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2014PA002650

Dunkley Jones, T., Lunt, D.J., Schmidt, D.N. Ridgwell. A., Sluijs, A, Valdes, P.J. and Maslin, M.A. 2013. Climate model and proxy data constraints on ocean warming across the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Earth Science Reviews.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2013.07.004

Manners, H.R., Grimes, S.T., Sutton, P.A., Domingo, L., Leng, M.J., Twitchett, R.J., Hart, M.B., Dunkley Jones, T., Pancost, R.D., Duller, R. and Lopez-Martinez, N. 2013. High-resolution carbon isotope stratigraphies for six sections across the PETM in a transect from continental to fully marine environments in northern Spain. Earth and Planetary Science Lettershttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2013.06.016

Armitage, J.J., Dunkley Jones, T., Duller, R.A., Whittaker, A.C., and Allen, P.A. 2013. Temporal buffering of climate-driven sediment flux cycles by transient catchment response. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. http://dx.doi.10.1016/j.epsl.2013.03.020

Dunkley Jones, T., Ivanović, R. F., Ridgwell, A., Lunt, D. J., Maslin, M. A., Valdes, P. J. and Flecker, R.  2013. Methane Hydrate Instability: A View from the Palaeogene, in Climate Forcing of Geological Hazards (eds B. McGuire and M. Maslin), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. http://dx.doi:10.1002/9781118482698.ch12

Maslin, M., Owen, M., Betts, R. A., Day, S., Dunkley Jones, T. and Ridgwell, A. 2013. Assessing the Past and Future Stability of Global Gas Hydrate Reservoirs, in Climate Forcing of Geological Hazards (eds B. McGuire and M. Maslin), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. http://dx.doi:10.1002/9781118482698.ch11

Lunt, D.J., Dunkley Jones, T., Huber, M., Heinemann, M., LeGrande, A., Winguth, A., Loptson, C., Marotzke, J., Tindall, J., Valdes, P., and Winguth, C. 2012. A model-data comparison for a multi-model ensemble of Early Eocene Atmosphere-Ocean simulations: EoMIP. Climates of the Pasthttp://dx.doi:10.5194/cpd-8-1229-2012.

Pälike, H., et al. 2012. A Cenozoic record of the equatorial Pacific carbonate compensation depth, Nature 488: 609-615, http://dx.doi:10.1038/nature11360

Bown, P.R. and Dunkley Jones, T. 2012. Calcareous nannofossils from the Paleogene equatorial Pacific (IODP Expedition 320 Sites U1331-1334). J. Nannoplankton Res. 32(2):3-51.

Coggon, R. M., Teagle, D. A. H. and Dunkley Jones, T. 2011. Comment on “What do we know about the evolution of Mg to Ca ratios in seawater?” by Wally Broecker and Jimin Yu, Paleoceanographyhttp://dx.doi:10.1029/2011PA002186

Dunkley Jones, T. 2011. The Micropalaeontological Record of Global Change. Journal of Micropalaeontology. 30:95-96, http://dx.doi:10.1144/0262-821X11-022.

Gibbs, S.J., Stuart A. Robinson, S.A, Bown, P.R, Dunkley Jones, T. and Henderiks, J. 2011. Comment on Erba et al. ‘Calcareous nannoplankton response to surface-water acidification around Oceanic Anoxic Event 1a’, Science, http://dx.doi:10.1126/science.1199459

Dunkley Jones, T., Ridgwell. A., Lunt, D.J., Maslin, M.A., Schmidt, D.N. and P.J. Valdes. 2010. A Paleogene perspective on climate sensitivity and methane hydrate instability. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Ahttp://dx.doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0053

Lunt, D.J, Valdes, P.J, Dunkley Jones, T., Ridgwell, A., Haywood, A.M., Schmidt, D.N., Marsh. R., Maslin, M. 2010. CO2 driven ocean circulation changes as an amplifier of PETM hydrate destabilization. Geologyhttp://dx.doi:10.1130/G31184.1

Maslin, M.A., Owen, M., Betts, R., Day, S., Dunkley Jones, T. and Ridgwell, A. 2010. Gas hydrates: Past and Future Geohazard? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A,  http://dx.doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0065

Dunkley Jones, T., P. R. Bown, and P. N. Pearson. 2009. Exceptionally well preserved upper Eocene to lower Oligocene calcareous nannofossils (Prymnesiophyceae) from the Pande Formation (Kilwa Group), Tanzania, Journal of Systematic Palaeontology,  http://dx.doi:1017/S1477201909990010

Bown, P. R., Dunkley Jones, T., Young, J.R. and Randell, R. 2009. A Paleogene record of extant lower photic zone calcareous nannoplankton, Palaeontologyhttp://dx.doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2009.00853.x

Dunkley Jones, T., Bown, P.R., Pearson, P.N., Wade, B.S., Coxall, H.K., and Lear, C.H. 2008. Major shifts in calcareous phytoplankton assemblages through the Eocene-Oligocene transition of Tanzania and their implications for low-latitude primary production, Paleoceanographyhttp://dx.doi:10.1029/2008PA001640

Pearson, P. N. McMillan, I. K., Wade, B. S., Dunkley Jones, T., Coxall, H. K., Bown, P. R. and Lear, C. H. 2008. Extinction and environmental change across the Eocene/Oligocene boundary in Tanzania. Geology,  http://dx.doi:10.1130/G24308A.1

Bown, P. R, Dunkley Jones, T., Lees, J.A., Pearson, P.N., Randell, R., Coxall, H.K., Mizzi, J., Nicholas, C., Karega, A., Singano, J., Wade, B.S. 2008. A calcareous microfossil Konservat-Lagerstätte from the Paleogene Kilwa Group of coastal Tanzania. GSA Bulletin,  http://dx.doi:10.1130/B26261.1

Dunkley Jones, T. and Bown, P. R. 2007. Post-sampling dissolution and the consistency of nannofossil diversity measures: A case study from freshly cored sediments of coastal Tanzania. Marine Micropaleontology,  http://dx.doi:10.1016/j.marmicro.2006.09.001

Dunkley Jones, T. 2007. Salterella and Volborthella from the Early Cambrian of Spitsbergen; the evolution of agglutinating organisms during the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition.  Micropaleontology  53(4):331-342.

Bown, P. R. and  Dunkley Jones, T. 2006. New Paleogene calcareous nannofossil taxa from coastal Tanzania: Tanzania Drilling Project Sites 11 to 14.  Journal of Nannoplankton Research , 28(1):17-34.