School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Allan Chivas


Allan Chivas

Position:  Emeritus Professor
Phone No: +61 2 4221 3263

Professional profile

Quantifying Earth-surface processes using geological, geochemical and biological methods and proxies.  This includes terrestrial and marine environments, and utilises deep weathering profiles, evaporites, lake deposits, fluvial and shallow marine sedimentary deposits.  A common methodology is the application of trace elements and isotopes to develop new palaeo-proxies.  More applied aspects include geoarchaeology, hydrology and desalination.  Much of the approach is experimental, with culturing of carbonate-secreting organisms, and development of novel instrumentation. 

  • Professor, School of Earth Sciences, University of Wollongong (since 1995).  Foundation Professor of Geosciences.
  • Previous position, Senior Fellow and Group Leader, Environmental Geochemistry Group, The Australian National University (and other related positions) 1979-95.
  • Prior appointments were in France (CRPG, Nancy) and the United States of America (US Geological Survey, Menlo Park).
  • PhD, University of Sydney, 1977.
  • Course Coordinator: EESC202 Soils, Landscape and Hydrology; EESC310 Water Resources and Management; and EESC306 Earth Resources and Environments. 
  • President, International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA), 2007-11; Past President and Executive Committee, 2011-15.
  • Several positions within the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE), including President (2008-09), and UOW Councillor (2000- )
  • Chairman, National Committee for Quaternary Research (2010-13) and member, National Committee for Earth Sciences (2008-14; deputy chair 2013- ) of the Australian Academy of Science.
Research Interests
  • Clumped-isotope applications to the terrestrial environment to provide palaeotemperatures of soil and lake carbonates.
  • Trace-element and stable-isotope geochemistry of ostracods, charophytes and molluscs and their application.
  • Organic carbon turnover; residence time in the landscape, transport to estuaries and distribution on the continental shelf.  Biogenic pollution, in these environments, deduced using organic biomarkers.
  • Cosmogenic exposure dating using newer techniques such as Ne-21 and He-3.

  • As above; with emphasis on clumped isotopes, cosmogenic dating, palaeovegetation studies using mammal bones, natural versus anthropogenic changes in the Macquarie Marshes.
  • Such work commonly requires extensive fieldwork, and commonly involves graduate student research projects.  For example, in the last five years fieldwork has been in the Black Sea (Ukraine and Russia, 3 seasons), Argentina (4 seasons), Siberia, Yukon, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Iran).


Prof Chivas operates an extensive suite of analytical facilities, comprising ten laboratories and four mass spectrometers as well as other minor items of equipment.  These include stable-isotope mass spectrometers to analyse oxygen and hydrogen in water samples, C and O in carbonates and bones, O in silicates, C and N in organic matter, S in sulfides and sulfates, compound-specific C isotopes, carbonate clumped-isotopes, quadrupole ICP-MS, GC-GC compound-specific C-14 extraction, several GCs and HPLC, ion chromatography, and an organic geochemistry laboratory.

selected key Publications
  • Searchable Publication List
  • Tu, K.L., Chivas, A.R. and Nghiem, L. D. 2013. Enhanced boron rejection by NF/RO membranes by complexation with polyols: measurement and mechanisms. Desalination, 310: 115-121.
  • Nicholas, W.A., Chivas, A.R., Murray-Wallace, C.V. And Fink, D. 2011. Prompt transgression and gradual salinisation of the Black sea during the early Holocene constrained by amino acid racemization and radiocarbon dating.  Quaternary Science Reviews, 30: 3769-3790.
  • Chivas, A.R. And Atlhopheng, J.R. 2010.  Oxygen-isotope dating the Yilgarn regolith. In: Bishop, P. and Pillans, B. (eds).  Australian Landscapes. Geological Society of London, Special Publication, 346: 309-320.
  • Chivas, A.R. 2007.  Terrestrial Evaporites. In: Nash, D.J. and McLaren, S.J. (eds). Geochemical Sediments and Landscapes.  Blackwell Publishing. p.330-364.
  • Reeves, J.M., Chivas, A.R., Garcia, A. and De Deckker, P. 2007. Palaeoenvironmental change in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Australia) since the last interglacial based on Ostracoda. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 246: 163-187.
  • Garcia, A. and Chivas, A.R. 2006.  Diversity and ecology of extant and Quaternary Australian charophytes (Charales). Crytogamie, Algologie, 27: 323-340.
  • Quade, J.,  Chivas, A.R. and McCulloch, M.T. 1995.  Strontium and carbon isotope tracers and the origin of soil carbonate in South Australia and Victoria. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 113: 103-117.
  • Bird, M.I. and Chivas, A.R. 1988. Oxygen-isotope dating of the Australian regolith. Nature, 331: 513-516.
  • Chivas, A.R., De Deckker, P. and Shelley, J.M.G. 1985. Strontium content of ostracods indicates lacustrine palaeosalinity. Nature, 316: 251-253.
  • The application of clumped isotopes to carbonate nodules through the Holocene, in a sequence from South Island, New Zealand (also with Peter Almond, Lincoln University, NZ). (for PhD)
  • Ne-21 and He-3 cosmogenic dating of young basalts from north Queensland (with Masahiko Honda, ANU). (for PhD, with ARC funding)


Last reviewed: 16 May, 2017