Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Heather Stewart

Research interests:

I am a marine geologist and have worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from leading teams to explore the submarine canyons of the South West Approaches of the UK to studying the offshore expression of the last British and Irish Ice Sheet. My research focuses on:
1. The offshore expression of the British-Irish Ice Sheet and characterisation of glacial sediments;
2. Seafloor geomorphology and heterogeneity of deep-sea trenches;
3. Multidisciplinary research of the UK deep-water areas of the Faroe–Shetland Channel and Hatton–Rockall areas;
4. Sea-bed composition, dynamics, geomorphology and Quaternary history of the UK continental shelf;
5. Collaborative projects with engineers looking at current and future developments in offshore sampling techniques.

Career history:

2015 – ongoing : PhD Research Student (part-time) at University of Stirling
2001 – ongoing : Marine Geologist, British Geological Survey
2000 –2001 : Marine Geologist with Caledonian Geotech
1997 –2001 : BSc (Hons), University of Glasgow, Geology and Applied Geology

Active research projects:

Glacial geomorphology and evolution offshore eastern Scotland and northeastern England. This project is linked to my current PhD studies at the University of Stirling with Dr Tom Bradwell looking at the impact of glacial/interglacial cycles and ice streaming on the Quaternary landforms and sediments in the North Sea Basin.

ScotiaSeep: A labyrinth of fluid expulsion features of the Hatton Basin (NE Atlantic): project to characterise the extent and drivers of seep conditions and composition of fluids (geology/geochemistry), the impact of the erupting fluids on the overlying water masses (physical oceanography), and composition of benthic and pelagic communities and connectivity. Collaborative effort by researchers from the British Geological Survey, University of Newcastle, Marine Scotland Science and Scottish Association for Marine Science.

MINIMOUND: Studies into the initiation, growth and demise of cold-water coral mini-mounds. A collaborative project led by Prof. David Van Rooij (Universiteit Gent). Tied PhD candidate for this project Tim Collart: “Using cold-water coral mini-mounds as analogue for giant mound growth: assessment of environmental drivers and anthropogenic impact”. Universitiet Gent, Belgium.

Seafloor Heterogeneity of Deep-Sea Trenches: A number of linked multidisciplinary projects. 1) The study of glacigenic debris-flows and down-slope gullies as evidence of a grounded ice margin during past glacials, South Shetland Trench, Antarctica (with University of Newcastle and University of Stirling). 2) Looking at multi-scale geomorphological and seafloor substrate heterogeneity over multiple deep-sea trenches (with University of Newcastle). 3) Temporal stability, nutrient cycling and seafloor geomorphology (Kermadec and Peru-Chile (Atacama) trenches) (with University of Southern Denmark and University of Newcastle).

Modelling the distribution of vulnerable ecosystems: Ongoing research with Dr Kerry Howell (University of Plymouth) looking at modelling the distribution of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (Annex I of the Habitats Directive) in deep-water areas west of the United Kingdom.

Marine Environmental Mapping Programme (MAREMAP): Mapping the offshore sea-bed substrate, geomorphology and Quaternary Geology utilising shallow seismic, sidescan sonar, multibeam echosounder and sample data. Development/promotion of new and novel techniques for acoustic data interpretation.

Recent publications:

STEWART, H A and JAMIESON, A J. 2018. Habitat heterogeneity of hadal trenches: considerations and implications for future studies. Progress in Oceanography.

STEWART, H A, and LONG, D. 2016. Glacigenic debris flows observed from high-resolution seafloor imagery generated from 3D seismic data, Faroe-Shetland Channel, North East Atlantic. From: DOWDESWELL, J A, et al. (eds). Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient. Geological Society, London, Memoirs, 46, 361-362.

PIECHAUD, N, DOWNIE, A, STEWART, H A, and HOWELL, K L. 2015. The impact of modelling method selection on predicted extent and distribution of deep-sea benthic assemblages. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol. 105(4), 251-261.

DAVIES, J S, STEWART, H A, NARAYANASWAMY, B E, JACOBS, C, SPICER, J, GOLDING, N, and HOWELL, K L. 2015. Benthic assemblages of the Anton Dohrn Seamount (NE Atlantic): defining deep-sea biotopes to support habitat mapping and management efforts with a focus on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. PLOS One, Vol 10(5): e0124815.

LARK, R M, MARCHANT, B P, DOVE, D, GREEN, S L, STEWART, H, and DIESING, M. 2015. Combining observations with acoustic swath bathymetry and backscatter to map seabed sediment texture classes: the empirical best linear un-biased predictor. Sedimentary Geology, Vol. 328, 17-32.

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