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This project examines the potential impact of climate change on early modern humans over the last 300,000 years. The region chosen contains some of the earliest Homo sapiens fossils in Africa and lies on the NW edge of the Sahara in an area that experienced extreme environmental variability in this period. The project uses archaeological and environmental records from caves in Morocco and proxy evidence from continuous marine core records to test whether periods of increased environmental variability were linked to known phases of behavioural innovation in Middle Stone Age humans. You will determine a detailed tephrostratigraphy for the NW Africa region. Previous research has shown that the volcanic ash layers identified in the region are largely sourced from the Canary Islands and the Azores (Barton et al., 2015). You will also assist with cryptotephra identification and characterization in the distal archaeological and paleoenvironmental records to confirm correlations and allow the layers to be used for chronology. We also anticipate that the you will date the eruptions using geochronological methods. Your work will be crucial in building on the previous research to help identify the source eruptions for the tephra layers. It will involve pulling together all the existing information on the stratigraphy and chronology of these volcanoes, and chemically characterising the deposits using an electron microprobe and LA-ICP-MS.

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