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Dr Jesse R. Zondervan

Postdoctoral Research Associate

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Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography  


After graduating in geology from Imperial College, I pursued a PhD in geology and geomorphology at the University of Plymouth. I have also worked at the Risø Nordic Centre for Luminescence Research in Copenhagen as a visiting PhD. Since March 2021 I am working on the ROC-CO2 project at Durham University as a postdoc.

I am involved in science communication and using geology for global development.

Research Projects

Carbon dioxide emissions by rock-derived organic carbon oxidation (ROC-CO2)

The ROC-CO2 project (Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by Rock-derived Organic Carbon oxidation) aims to quantify the rates and controls on the CO2 release by chemical weathering of organic carbon in sedimentary rocks, which is a major component of the geological carbon cycle (see for further information).

We know that erosion is a major control on this flux: erosion increases the delivery of rocks to the near-surface weathering zone where they can be oxidised.

However, we don't know enough about where high erosion rates impinge on sedimentary rocks. Nor whether the inherent rock-mass properties of shales mean that these landscapes are naturally prone to very high rates of CO2 release by rock weathering.

To address this issue, as a postdoc on the project I combine quantitative geomorphology methods with lithological maps and geochemical datasets. We use topographic analysis and erosion models with empirically-based models of oxidative weathering rates to assess regional- to global-scale patterns in the modern-day CO2 release by rock organic carbon oxidation.

Research interests

  • Surface processes controlling mountain landscape evolution
  • Properties of rock (e.g. lithology, rock strength, chemistry) in relation to geomorphology
  • Quaternary climate, the carbon cycle and its impact on human evolution and cultures
  • Development and application of novel dating approaches

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Earth Sciences:
  • Ecosystems:
  • Tectonics:
  • Environmental change:
  • Landscape systems:
  • Environment and culture:
  • Human dispersal:
  • Geological hazards:
  • The Earth: Plants:
  • The Earth: Rocks & natural forces:


Conference Paper

  • Zondervan, Jesse, Stokes, Martin, Telfer, Matt, Boulton, Sarah, Buylaert, Jan-Pieter, Jain, Mayank, Murray, Andrew, Belfoul, Alaeddine, Mather, Anne, Taleb, Nawfal & others (2020), Eccentricity forcing of Saharan climate drives fluvial strath terrace formation in the High Atlas, EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts. 718.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R, Stokes, M, Boulton, Sarah J, Mather, Anne E, Telfer, Matt, Buylaert, Jan-Pieter, Jain, Mayank, Murray, Andrew S, Belfoul, Alaeddine, Hann, Madeleine G & others (2020), Asynchronous strath terrace formation in a collisional mountain belt, AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts 2020. EP014-09.
  • Zondervan, Jesse Ruben, Stokes, Martin, Boulton, Sarah J, Mather, Anne Elizabeth, Telfer, Matt, Buylaert, Jan-Pieter, Jain, Mayank, Murray, Andrew S, Belfoul, Alaeddine, Hann, Madeleine G & others (2019), Changes in mountain valley widening, river incision and sediment transport in North-West Africa during the last 180 ka of Saharan climate, 2019: AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. EP53I-2251.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R., Stokes, Martin, Boulton, Sarah J., Mather, Anne E. & Telfer, Matt W. (2018), Catchment changes in response to tectonics and climate: using river terraces and DEM data in the southern High Atlas Mountains (Morocco), 4: Working Group on Sediment Generation, Dublin. 21.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R, Stokes, Martin, Jain, Mayank, Buylaert, Jan-Pieter, Telfer, Matt W & Murray, Andrew S (2018), Chronology for mountainous river terraces: OSL/IRSL and rock dating techniques applied to carbonate-rich terraces in the Atlas Mountains, UK Luminescence and ESR Dating Meeting. 50.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R. (2018), Geoscience in a rapidly changing world: what could go wrong?, Geologists' Association Student Symposium - Geoscience challenges in the 21st century, London. 30.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R, Stokes, Martin, Boulton, Sarah J, Mather, Anne E & Telfer, Matt W (2018), Palaeo river long profile reconstruction in a fold-and-thrust belt: river terraces as archives of Quaternary incision and aggradation in the Atlas Mountains, 18: FLAG 2018.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R, Stokes, Martin, Boulton, Sarah J, Mather, Anne E & Telfer, Matt W (2018), Lithological controls on drainage divide dynamics, Earth Sciences Research Conference. 13.
  • Whittaker, Alex, Boulton, Sarah, Kent, Emiko, Zondervan, Jesse, Hann, Madeleine, Watkins, Stephen, Bell, Rebecca & Brooke, Sam (2017), Evaluating the competing effects of lithology and sediment supply on the erosional dynamics of rivers crossing active faults, EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts. 11779.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R., Whittaker, Alexander C., Bell, Rebecca E., Watkins, Stephen E. & Brooke, Sam A.S. (2017), Active normal faults and coupled landscape response: bedrock variability in the southern Gulf of Corinth, central Greece, 56: BSRG Annual General Meeting. 80.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R, Stokes, Martin, Mather, Anne E. & Boulton, Sarah J. (2017), Fluvial archives of NW African climate and tectonic evolution, Atlas Mountains, central Morocco, Earth Sciences Research Conference.

Doctoral Thesis

  • Zondervan, Jesse R. (2021). Lithological and climatic controls on fluvial landscape evolution of a post-orogenic dryland mountain belt. PhD.

Journal Article

  • Zondervan, Jesse R, Stokes, Martin, Boulton, Sarah J, Telfer, Matt W & Mather, Anne E (2020). Rock strength and structural controls on fluvial erodibility: Implications for drainage divide mobility in a collisional mountain belt. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 538: 116221.
  • Zondervan, Jesse R, Whittaker, Alexander C, Bell, Rebecca E, Watkins, Stephen E, Brooke, Sam AS & Hann, Madeleine G (2020). New constraints on bedrock erodibility and landscape response times upstream of an active fault. Geomorphology 351: 106937.

Masters Thesis

  • Zondervan, Jesse R. (2017). Landscape response to active faulting, southern Gulf of Corinth, central Greece. Imperial College London. Masters.

Other (Print)

  • Zondervan, Jesse R (2016). Palynology of Lake George - A review of palynology, Lake George and regional \& global Quaternary comparisons and the start of palynological analysis of a new Lake George core. The Australian National University, Imperial College London
  • Zondervan, Jesse R (2016). Preserved fossil coral heads as indicators of Holocene high sea level on One Tree Island. The Australian National University, Imperial College London


  • Zondervan, Jesse R (2015). Companion to the Geological Map of the Southern Barrême Basin.