St John's College Oxford
Dr Julie Durcan

Dr Julie Durcan

Supernumerary Teaching Fellow in Physical Geography



I am responsible for teaching physical geography topics at St John's College. These currently include geomorphology, biogeography, climatology and Quaternary Science, but are subject to change in response to the department syllabi. I also teach lectures in the School of Geography and Environment.

Before coming to Oxford in 2013, I undertook degrees at the University of Sheffield (BSc Geography), Royal Holloway, University of London (MSc Quaternary Science), and Aberystwyth University (PhD Geography). During my time here, I have successfully completed the University of Oxford Enhancing Teaching Programme, accredited by the UK Staff and Educational Development Association.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the reconstruction of climate and environment over the past 2.7 million years (known as the Quaternary Period). I mainly focus on dryland regions, and am most interested in the interaction between ancient civilisations and climate change over the past 10,000 years.

My current research projects include:

  • Examining river activity over the past 10,000 years in northwest India to understand the relationship between changing hydrology and civilisation collapse.
  • Understanding the relationship between changing lake levels and ancient human activities in the Thar Desert, India over the past 100,000 years.
  • Quantifying the evolution and relationship between dryland river activity and dune building/migration in the Simpson Desert, Central Australia.
  • Development of the sediment dating technique luminescence dating.

Selected Publications

  • Srivastava, A., Thomas, D.S.G., Durcan, J.A., submitted. Holocene dune activity in the Thar Desert, India. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
  • Durcan, J.A., Thomas, D.S.G., Gupta, S., Pawar, V., Singh, R.N., Petrie, C.A., in press. Holocene landscape dynamics in the Ghaggar-Hakra palaeochannel region at the northern edge of the Thar Desert northwest India. Quaternary International,
  • Thomas, D.S.G. Durcan, J.A., Dansie, A., Wiggs, G.F.S., 2017. Holocene fluvial valley fill sources of atmospheric mineral dust in the Skeleton Coast, Namibia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, doi: 10.1002/esp.4151.
  • Giosan, L., Clift, P.D., Macklin, M.G., Fuller, D.Q., Constantinescu, S., Durcan, J.A., Stevens, T., Duller, G.A.T., Tabrez, A., Adhikari, R., Gangal, K., Alizai, A., Filip, F., VanLaningham, S., Syvitski, J.P.M., 2012. Fluvial dynamics and the fate of the Harappan civilisation. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, 109, E1688-E1694.
  • Clift, P.D., Carter, A.C., Giosan, L., Durcan, J.A., Duller, G.A.T., Macklin, M.G., Alizai, A., Tabrez, A.R., Danish, M., VanLaningham, S., Fuller, D.Q., 2012. U-Pb Zircon dating evidence for a Pleistocene Sarasvati river and capture of the Yamuna River. Geology, 40, 211-214.
  • Durcan, J.A., Duller, G.A.T., 2011. The fast ratio: a rapid measure for testing the dominance of the fast component in the initial OSL signal from quartz. Radiation Measurements, 46, 1065-1072.
  • Durcan, J.A., Roberts, H.M., Duller, G.A.T., Alizai, A.H., 2010. Testing the use of range-finder OSL dating to inform field sampling and laboratory processing strategies. Quaternary Geochronology, 5, 86-90.
  • Roberts, H.M., Durcan, J.A., Duller, G.A.T., 2009. Exploring procedures for the rapid assessment of optically stimulated luminescence range-finder ages. Radiation Measurements, 44, 582-587.
  • Thomas, D.S.G., Bailey, R.M., Shaw, P.A., Durcan, J.A., Singarayer, J.S., 2008. Late Quaternary highstands at Lake Chilwa, Malawi: Frequency, timing and possible forcing mechanisms in the last 44ka. Quaternary Science Reviews, 28 (5-6), 526-539.

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