Professor Ian Fairchild PhD CGeol

Professor Ian Fairchild

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Emeritus Professor

Contact details

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

Ian Fairchild is a geoscientist with broad interests in the geochemistry of the Earth’s surface, climate change and Quaternary and Neoproterozoic earth history. He employs this breadth of knowledge in research, in public outreach, and professional activities such as examining and research assessment. He is equally at home in the field and the laboratory with a wealth of experience in glacial environments, caves, rock successions and at national and international geochemical research facilities.

Anthropocene interview with the BBC - 3 March 2016


  • BSc University of Nottingham
  • PhD University of Nottingham


Ian occasionally supervises advanced undergraduate projects.

Postgraduate supervision

Ian Fairchild employs this breadth of knowledge in teaching, in public outreach, and professional activities such as examining and research assessment. He is equally at home in the field and the laboratory with a wealth of experience in glacial environments, caves, rock successions and at national and international geochemical research facilities.

Dr Fairchild has research interests in the following areas:

Speleothems and Climate Change, especially the development of palaeoclimate proxies and the understanding of karst processes including their hydrology. See also
Glaciation and carbonates in deep time - The Cryogenian. See GAINS project
Aqueous Geochemistry in relation to weathering reactions and hydrology in glacial and riverine environments (Iceland, Himalayas).
Experimental studies of mineral-water interactions

Other activities

  • Chair, NERC Isotope Geoscience Facilities (NIGF) Steering Committee (2016-2019)
  • Trustee, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust (2015-)
  • Member, Anthropocene Working Group, International Commission of Stratigraphy (2013- )
  • Voting Member of the Cryogenian sub-commission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (2012-)


Recent publications


Bian, F, Coleborn, K, Flemons, I, Baker, A, Treble, PC, Hughes, CE, Baker, A, Andersen, MS, Tozer, MG, Duan, W, Fogwill, CJ & Fairchild, IJ 2019, 'Hydrological and geochemical responses of fire in a shallow cave system', Science of the Total Environment, vol. 662, pp. 180-191.

Fairchild, IJ, Spencer, AM, Ali, DO, Anderson, RP, Anderton, R, Boomer, I, Dove, D, Evans, JD, Hambrey, MJ, Howe, J, Sawaki, Y, Shields, GA, Skelton, A, Tucker, ME, Wang, Z & Zhou, Y 2018, 'Tonian-Cryogenian boundary sections of Argyll, Scotland', Precambrian Research.

Wynn, PM, Fairchild, IJ, Borsato, A, Spötl, C, Hartland, A, Baker, A, Frisia, S & Baldini, JUL 2018, 'Sulphate partitioning into calcite: Experimental verification of pH control and application to seasonality in speleothems', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 226, pp. 69-83.

Waters, CN, Zalasiewicz, J, Summerhayes, C, Fairchild, IJ, Rose, NL, Loader, NJ, Shotyk, W, Cearreta, A, Head, MJ, Syvitski, JPM, Williams, M, Wagreich, M, Barnosky, AD, Zhisheng, A, Leinfelder, R, Jeandel, C, Gałuszka, A, Ivar Do Sul, JA, Gradstein, F, Steffen, W, Mcneill, JR, Wing, S, Poirier, C & Edgeworth, M 2017, 'Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the Anthropocene Series: Where and how to look for potential candidates', Earth Science Reviews.

Klaebe, RM, Smith, MP, Fairchild, IJ, Fleming, EJ & Kennedy, MJ 2017, 'Facies-dependent δ 13 C variation and diagenetic overprinting at the onset of the Sturtian glaciation in North-East Greenland', Precambrian Research.

Ali, DO, Spencer, AM, Fairchild, IJ, Chew, KJ, Anderton, R, Levell, BK, Hambrey, MJ, Dove, D & Le Heron, DP 2017, 'Indicators of relative completeness of the glacial record of the Port Askaig Formation, Garvellach Islands, Scotland', Precambrian Research.

Zalasiewicz, J, Waters, CN, Summerhayes, CP, Wolfe, AP, Barnosky, AD, Cearreta, A, Crutzen, P, Ellis, E, Fairchild, IJ, Gałuszka, A, Haff, P, Hajdas, I, Head, MJ, Ivar Do Sul, JA, Jeandel, C, Leinfelder, R, Mcneill, JR, Neal, C, Odada, E, Oreskes, N, Steffen, W, Syvitski, J, Vidas, D, Wagreich, M & Williams, M 2017, 'The Working Group on the Anthropocene: Summary of evidence and interim recommendations', Anthropocene, vol. 19, pp. 55-60.

Dominguez-Villar, D, Krklec, K, Pelicon, P, Fairchild, I, Cheng, H & Edwards, RL 2016, 'Geochemistry of speleothems affected by aragonite to calcite recrystallization - potential inheritance from the precursor mineral', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

Fairchild, I, Stevenson, C, McMillan, E, Fleming, E, Grassineau, N, Bonnand, P, Parkinson, I, Halverson, G & Hambrey, M 2016, 'The Late Cryogenian Warm Interval, NE Svalbard: chemostratigraphy and genesis', Precambrian Research, vol. 281, pp. 128-154.

Treble, PC, Fairchild, I, Baker, A, Meredith, KT, Anderson, MS, Salmon, SU, Bradley, C, Wynn, PM, Hankin, S, Wood, A & McGuire, E 2016, 'Roles of forest bioproductivity, transpiration and fire in a nine-year record of cave dripwater chemistry from southwest Australia', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

Fleming, E, Stevenson, C, Fairchild, I, Benn, DI, Petronis, MS & Hambrey, MJ 2016, 'Glacitectonism, subglacial and glacilacustrine processes during a Neoproterozoic panglaciation, north‐east Svalbard', Sedimentology, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 411–442.

Fairchild, I, Fleming, E, Huiming, B, Benn, DI, Boomer, I, Dublyansky, Y, Halverson, G, Hambrey, MJ, Hendy, C, McMillan, E, Spotl, C, Stevenson, C & Wynn, P 2015, 'Continental carbonate facies of a Neoproterozoic panglaciation, north-east Svalbard', Sedimentology.

Treble, PC, Fairchild, IJ, Griffiths, A, Baker, A, Meredith, KT, Wood, A & McGuire, E 2015, 'Impacts of cave air ventilation and in-cave prior calcite precipitation on Golgotha Cave dripwater chemistry, southwest Australia', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 127, pp. 61-72.

Borsato, A, Frisia, S, Wynn, PM, Fairchild, IJ & Miorandi, R 2015, 'Sulphate concentration in cave dripwater and speleothems: Long-term trends and overview of its significance as proxy for environmental processes and climate changes', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 127, pp. 48-60.

Zalasiewicz, J, Waters, CN, Williams, M, Barnosky, AD, Cearreta, A, Crutzen, P, Ellis, E, Ellis, MA, Fairchild, IJ, Grinevald, J, Haff, PK, Hajdas, I, Leinfelder, R, McNeill, J, Odada, EO, Poirier, C, Richter, D, Steffen, W, Summerhayes, C, Syvitski, JPM, Vidas, D, Wagreich, M, Wing, SL, Wolfe, AP, An, Z & Oreskes, N 2015, 'When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal', Quaternary International, vol. 383, pp. 196-203.

View all publications in research portal


Climate change past and present; limestone and water supply in limestone areas; caves and their deposits; water quality