Professor Mark Bateman

Department of Geography

Professor in Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction

Mark Bateman showcasing his Sorby Medal and certificate
M.D.Bateman@Sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 7929

Full contact details

Professor Mark Bateman
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
Sheffield
S3 7ND
Profile

Mark Bateman received a First Class BSc in Geography from the University of London in 1991 and a DPhil from Sussex University in 1995 for his research on dating UK coversands. In 1995 he joined the Sheffield Geography department as a post-doctoral research assistant to set up and run the luminescence laboratory for the Sheffield Centre for International Drylands Research.

In 1998, Mark Bateman was appointed Lecturer in Physical Geography, promoted to Senior Lecturer (2004), Reader in Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction (2006), and became a Professor in 2011. In 2018 he was awarded the Sorby medal by the Yorkshire Geological Society for his contribution to Yorkshire Geology.

Qualifications
  • BSc in Geography
  • DPhil in Geography
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Research interests

Society faces a Climate Crisis with a number of challenges including rising sea-levels, melting ice, desertification and increased storminess. My research aims to make a contribution towards understanding these changes by understanding the causes and magnitude of past environmental changes. It focuses on Sandscapes as an archive for understanding past depositional processes and environmental changes which have shaped the landscape we live in. Three themes are centred around this:

  • Past glacial and periglacial landscapes
  • Past aeolian activity in deserts and on coasts
  • Advances in Luminescence dating of sediments
Publications

Journal articles

Chapters

Conference proceedings papers

Teaching interests

The undergraduate and postgraduate teaching I specialise in relates to understanding past changes in climate and environment which have shaped the landscape we live in. I enjoy bringing across to my students how and why the fields of geomorphology, sedimentology and Quaternary Science are relevant to a wide range of geographical challenges we face.

My teaching interests reflect my research interests so I can keep students up-to-date on current developments. The style of my teaching varies from teaching out and about on field classes, in the laboratory and through lectures and small group tutorials. I have particular interests in former glacial and coastal environments and each year supervise students' projects in these areas.

Professional activities

Editorial responsibilities

  • Editor Board member for Boreas and Journal of Archaeological Science Reports  and Associate Editor for Proceeding of the Yorkshire Geological Society. Former Editor of Special publications for the International Association of Sedimentologists (2014-2018) and former Editorial board member for Quaternary Science Reviews (2010-2014).
  • Journal Reviewer for >40 International, peer-reviewed journals

Committee/panel activities

  • NERC Peer-Review College (2012-).
  • Bureau Member for International Association of Sedimentologists (2014-2018)
  • Council Member of the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG: 2005-2008)
  • Meeting Officer for Quaternary Research Association (QRA: 2002-2005)
  • Secretary for the International Global Correlation Programme 413 (1998-2003)

External Examiner roles

  • Queens University (2020-)
  • University of Exeter (2014-2018)
  • Sussex University (2012-2015)
  • Queen Mary’s College London  (2008-2012)
  • 26 PhD Examinations (16 external and 10 internal) - including overseas

Invited Lectures and Visiting Positions

I have given 35 invited and keynote talks both in UK and internationally.

 In 2019 I was an invited Visiting Fellow at University of Western Australia.

Additional research projects
Past periglacial and glacial environments

During much of the last 2.5 million years, NW Europe experienced cold glacial and non-glacial conditions which have shaped the landscape we live in and the sediments beneath our feet.  From understanding how they were deposited and when we can understand key aspects of past climates, how they changed and how quickly they changed. For example my work has shown that erosion of dune systems in the McKenzie Delta (Arctic Canada) are tied to mega Lake Aggassiz outburst flood (USA) which may have caused the Younger Dryas hemispheric cooling event (Murton et al. 2010, Nature).

Thermal map showing the possible route of outburst floods from pro-glacial Lake Aggassiz. Work in McKenzie Delta showed for the first time evidence for the Northern route at just before the start of the Younger Dryas (Murton et al 2010).

 Possible route of outburst floods from pro-glacial Lake Aggassiz. Work in McKenzie Delta showed for the first time evidence for the Northern route at just before the start of the Younger Dryas (Murton et al 2010).

Work on the last icesheet to cover Britain has been able to reconstruct ice thickness and show that different parts of it advanced and retreated at different times. Ice in the North sea reached its maximum limits very late within the glacial stage and was dynamic, ponding up significant pro-glacial Lakes Humber and Pickering (Bateman et al 2018). More recent work has been trying to date the previous icesheet to cover Britain around 160,000 years ago (Fairburn and Bateman 2021). Over 40 publications have come from this work so far with  past funding from NERC, QRA, BSG and Royal Society.

A series of time slices showing the advance, dynamics and retreat of the Vale of York and North sea icelobes of the last British and Irish Icesheet

A series of time slices showing the advance, dynamics and retreat of the Vale of York and North sea icelobes of the last British and Irish Icesheet (Bateman et al 2015). 

A reconstruction from Lidar of the glacial moraine in the Vale of Pickering which research has shown to have been formed by ice ~160,000 years ago (Fairburn and Bateman et al 2021).
A reconstruction from Lidar of the glacial moraine in the Vale of Pickering which research has shown to have been formed by ice ~160,000 years ago (Fairburn and Bateman et al 2021). LiDAR data from Open Survey online store (data.gov.uk).

Key outcomes

  • Erosion of dune systems in the McKenzie Delta have been dated and tied to Lake Aggassiz outburst floods which may have caused the Younger Dryas event
  • The Northsea icelobe of the last British and Irish Icesheet was dynamic and advanced to its maximum only 21000 years ago
  • Evidence exists for the previous icesheet which covered Britain 160000 years ago.

Recent papers

  • Evans, D.J.A., Robert, D.H., Bateman, M.D., Clark, C.D., Medialdea, A., Callard, L., Grimoldi, E., Chiverrell, R.C., Ely, J.C., Dove, D., Ó Cofaigh, C., Saher, M., Bradwell, T., Moreton, S.G., Fabel, D., Bradley, D. (2021). Retreat dynamics of the eastern sector of the British-Irish Ice Sheet during the last glaciation. Journal of Quaternary Science. Doi: 10.1002/jqs.3275
  • Bateman, M.D., Evans, D.J.A., Roberts, D.H., Medialdea, A., Ely, E., Clark C.D. (2018). The timing and consequences of the blockage of the Humber Gap by the last British-Irish Ice Sheet. Boreas, 47, 41-61. DOI: 10.1111/bor.12256
  • Fairburn, W.A. and Bateman, M.D. (2021). Possible new evidence for a Mid-Pleistocene Glaciation in the Vale Of Pickering, North Yorkshire, U.K. Proceedings of the Geological Society of Yorkshire. Doi: 10.1144/pygs2020-019.
Understanding past aeolian activity

Part of my research has focussed on coastal dune systems which form a key landscape component in protecting coastal assets from coastal storms and rising sea levels.  Understanding how they have developed through time and how they have been impacted by historic storms (and tsunami) will lead to a better understanding of coastal resilience as well as return intervals of impactful storms. This work has formed the basis of over 50 printed journal articles with past funding from Leverhulme Trust, National Geographic, QRA, BSG, White Rose and a NERC DTP award.

Recent work on Spurn Point has been able to show how it has evolved over the last 200 years and where it is must vulnerable to breaches by the North Sea (Bateman et al 2020).

How the coastal spit system at Spurn Point, East Yorkshire, UK has changed over the last 200 years as shown from historical maps (Bateman et al 2020).

How dunes and beach ridges on the Mekong Delta has helped understand when it developed and why 19th century canalisation and agriculture might be responsible for its current erosion.

(A) Reconstruction of past shorelines on the Mekong Delta; (B) Estimates of shoreline change through time; (C) Changes in population, agriculture with the grey area indicating when the delta had canals dug into it. (Tamura et al 2020 Nature Scientific Reports 10, 8085)
(A) Reconstruction of past shorelines on the Mekong Delta; (B) Estimates of shoreline change through time; (C) Changes in population, agriculture with the grey area indicating when the delta had canals dug into it. (Tamura et al 2020 Nature Scientific Rep

On longer time scales work has been able to show how a tsunami 8200 years ago impacted on the coastline of eastern Scotland (Bateman et al 2021) and how coastal dunes from the Atacama Desert, Chile are able to show how fast this coastline is tectonically uplifting (Nash et al. 2018).

Model of how the Storegga tsunami wave 8200 years ago flooded the Montrose basin (Bateman et al 2021).


Key outcomes

  • Coastal dunes show dynamic responses to climate changes in particular sediment supply from erosion, sea level changes and storms. 

Recent papers

  • Tamura T., Nguyen V.P., Ta T.K.O., Bateman, M.D., Gugliotta M., Anthony, E.J., Saito, Y. (2020).  Long-term sediment decline causes ongoing shrinkage of the Mekong megadelta, Vietnam. Nature Scientific Reports, 10,  No. 8085 . DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-64630-z
  • Bateman, M.D., Kinnaird T.C., Hill, J., Ashurst, R.A., Mohan, J., Bateman, R.B.I., Robinson, R. (2021). Detailing the impact of the Storegga tsunami at Montrose, Scotland. Boreas.
  • Bateman, M.D., McHale, K., Bayntun, H.J., Williams N. (2020). Understanding Historical Coastal Spit Evolution: a Case Study from Spurn, East Yorkshire, UK. Earth Surface Landforms and Processes 45, 3670-3686.  DOI: 10.1002/esp.4991
  • Bateman, M.D., Rushby, G., Stein, S., Ashurst, R.A., Stevenson, D., Jones, J.M. and Gehrels, W.R. (2018). Can sand dunes be used to study historic storm events? Earth surface Processes and Landforms 43, 779-790. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4255
  • Nash, D.J., Bateman, M.D., Bullard, J.E., Latorre, C. (2018). Late Quaternary coastal evolution and aeolian sedimentation in the tectonically-active southern Atacama Desert, Chile. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 490, 546-562.  DOI. 10.1016palaeogeogalaeo.2017.11.040
Advances in luminescence

The time dimension is fundamental to understanding past change. Although vast advances in dating have been made, methods all require laboratory-based protocols that are not available during field sampling.  It is now possible to make in field measurements of luminescence intensity which give a first order approximation for sediment age.

Prof Mark Bateman using a portable luminescence reader
A portable luminescence reader able to find out a relative age of sediment whilst out in the field.

Research I have undertaken (funded by NATURAL ENGLAND, WHITE ROSE and RGS) has shown how portable luminescence can be used to understand phases of coastal dune building.

High resolution portable luminescence results from dune profiles at Holkham, Norfolk showing multiple phases of dune growth on this coastline (from Bateman et al. 2018).
High resolution portable luminescence results from dune profiles at Holkham, Norfolk showing multiple phases of dune growth on this coastline (from Bateman et al. 2018).

Following on from work to understand post-depositional processes on the sediment archive (Bateman et al . 2007), recently I developed an approach to used harder to reset luminescence signals (pIRSL180 and pIRSL225) to find the location of where sediment were eroded from. This was applied to Storegga tsunami deposits in Scotland which helped find the sediment source and therefore the direction of the wave that impacted the coastline (Bateman et al 2021).

Dated Storegga sand had pIRSL180 and pIRSL225 signals of a similar age to a nearby Marine sand enabling the source of the tsunami sediment to be recognised and also the direction the wave travelled in (from Bateman et al. 2021).
Dated Storegga sand had pIRSL180 and pIRSL225 signals of a similar age to a nearby Marine sand enabling the source of the tsunami sediment to be recognised and also the direction the wave travelled in (from Bateman et al. 2021).

In 2019 I edited together “The Handbook of Luminescence dating” in order to demystify the technique of luminescence dating for Quaternary geologists and archaeologists who require luminescence ages for their research.

The Handbook of Luminescence Dating (Bateman 2019) aims to help those wanting to understand luminescence dating for use in their own research.
The Handbook of Luminescence Dating (Bateman 2019) aims to help those wanting to understand luminescence dating for use in their own research.


Key Outcomes

It is possible to rapidly generate accurate, high resolution down core OSL data using a portable OSL reader to enable differentiation of older from the younger sediments, identify phases of sedimentation and temporal hiatuses. Luminescence can provide information on both post-depositional disturbance and be used to locate sediment sources.

Recent papers

  • Bateman, M.D., Rushby, G., Stein, S., Ashurst, R.A., Stevenson, D., Jones, J.M. and Gehrels, W.R. (2018). Can sand dunes be used to study historic storm events? Earth surface Processes and Landforms 43, 779-790. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4255
  • Bateman, M.D., McHale, K., Bayntun, H.J., Williams N. (2020). Understanding Historical Coastal Spit Evolution: a Case Study from Spurn, East Yorkshire, UK. Earth Surface Landforms and Processes 45, 3670-3686.  DOI: 10.1002/esp.4991
  • Bateman, M.D., Kinnaird T.C., Hill, J., Ashurst, R.A., Mohan, J., Bateman, R.B.I., Robinson, R. (2021). Detailing the impact of the Storegga tsunami at Montrose, Scotland. Boreas.
  • Bateman, M.D. (2019). Handbook of luminescence dating. Whittles Publishing, p416.