Imperial College London

Miss Sinéad Lyster

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Research Postgraduate







Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Reconstructing erosion and sediment supply from the continents to the oceans in deep time – examples from the Cretaceous

The flux of sediment to the ocean is governed by tectonic and climatic boundary conditions, which influence spatio-temporal patterns in erosion and sediment routing. Depositional stratigraphy represents our only physical record of mass transfer across Earth's surface in the geologic past — palaeo-sediment routing system analysis therefore remains a prominent research challenge. Understanding how, when and where sediment was delivered from the continents to oceans is important as the erosion and subsequent export of sediment from mountains to oceans conditions organic carbon burial and has a major impact on atmospheric CO2.

My research applies novel strategies, which include GIS-based techniques, numerical modelling and fieldwork, to the reconstruction of erosion, sediment supply and hydrology in deep time. The initial focus of my research is the Cretaceous period, with particular interest in the Western Interior Seaway of North America, but I am also interested in mapping erosion rates and sediment fluxes on a variety of spatial and temporal scales to predict regional, continental and global trends in erosion and sediment supply as a function of large-scale tectonic and climatic events.

Supervisors: Dr Alex Whittaker and Prof Peter Allison


2017 – Present – PhD student, Imperial College London

2016 – 2017 – Nature Publishing Group

2012 – 2016 – MSci Earth Sciences, University College London


Lyster, S. Biogeochemistry: a subglacial microbial methane sink. Nature Reviews Chemistry 1, 0070 (2017). doi:10.1038/s41570-017-0070

Bridger, P., Lyster, S. & Hunt, A. The Paleocene­–Eocene Thermal Maximum: investigating the connection between ocean drilling and climate science. ECORD Newsletter 26, 15 (2016).

Teaching assistant

Year 1: Structural Geology 1

Year 1: Surface Processes

Year 2: Structural Geology 2 

Year 2: Field Geology 2 (Pyrenees field course)

Year 4: Field Geology 5 (Apennines field course)



Lyster SJ, Whittaker AC, Allison PA, et al., 2020, Predicting sediment discharges and erosion rates in deep time—examples from the late Cretaceous North American continent, Basin Research, ISSN:0950-091X

More Publications