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MSc. thesis project suggestions

On this page we will continuously post new suggestions for MSc. thesis projects (GEOR02, 45 credits). The latest suggestions are at the top and posts will be removed as they become obsolete. Contact the main supervisor if you are interested. You can also at any time, based on your own interests, discuss different possibilities with your teachers. You can see examples of previous MSc. theses here. Please note that you have to be admitted to the MSc. programme in geology at Lund University to be able to perform one of the suggested projects.

Induced polarisation for mapping of mine tailings 


Exploration for so-called critical metals is relevant throughout the world including Sweden due to an increased need within new technology, electronics, computers and batteries, etc. A possible source may be secondary resources, i.e. older mining waste. These can in many cases contain interesting substances, which were not extracted due to limitations in older extraction techniques and / or because there was no interest in these substances when the mine was in operation. It can also be an advantage to exploit resources without having to open new mines.  

The Swedish Geological Survey (SGU) is now conducting a survey of existing mining waste in Sweden on behalf of the government. Within this assignment, we have selected six locations with fine-grained mine tailings, so-called sand reservoirs in the Bergslagen province, where previous sampling has shown interesting levels of critical metals and minerals. Detailed geophysical surveys as well as sampling of the material for detailed analysis are performed here. The purpose of the geophysical surveys is to determine the thickness of the sand reservoirs and to investigate whether we can identify variations within the reservoirs that may be due to variations in chemical composition and metal content.  

The main geophysical methods used are "classical" resistivity (ERT) and time-domain induced polarization (IP). The sand generally has a lower resistivity compared to the underlying soils and bedrock. Results from IP measurements could also make it possible to delimit areas with a larger metal content, and perhaps to distinguish between different types of materials. Some previous studies indicate this. The IP method has developed a lot in recent years but is still to some extent experimental.  

SGU has collected a large number of ERT and IP profiles within the sand reservoirs in Bergslagen. These are now analyzed and form the basis for a 3D model of investigated magazines. Our goal is that collected data can also be used by universities and colleges for further analysis by applying new methods and interpretation programs. LTH is at the forefront when it comes to measurement technology within ERT-IP and the use of modern interpretation programs.  

Aim and purpose 

The purpose is to gain practical experience of possibilities with the time domain-induced polarization method on sandy mining waste. The aim is to try to come to a deeper analysis of already collected measurements and an updated model of two or more magazines. Measurement data and reference data will be available. The work can be performed almost exclusively from the office / computer and can therefore be performed by one student but can also be suitable for two if desired.  


SGU provides data, both measurements and reference data, as well as some advice. Engineering Geology, LTH, has experience of the method and tools for advanced calculations. The work is intended to take place in collaboration between both departments. 

Are you interested and want to know more? 

Virginie Leroux 
Kiliansgatan 10 -Lund 
virginie [dot] leroux [at] sgu [dot] se 
tel: 046 31 17 85 

Tina Martin 
Teknisk geologi, 
tina [dot] martin [at] tg [dot] lth [dot] se

Inlagt: 2022-03-10 

Production and storage of fire derived black carbon in boreal forest soils

Black carbon (BC) is produced by incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels and consists of carbon rich aromatic residues (char) and condensed carbon particles (soot). It is found in the atmosphere, ocean and inland waters, soils and sediments. It is of great significance for the carbon cycling on Earth and is one of the most important green-house substances. The high surface area can also function as an absorbent of other organic pollutants. BC particles are resistant to degradation and have a long residence time in soils and sediments and are considered a potential carbon sink. The natural production and storage and of BC in soils are therefore key factors in understanding the carbon cycle.

In this project we will measure BC content in soils from forests that burnt in the summer 2018. Our study sites include 50 forest fire sites from southern to norther Sweden, with additional control plots that have not burnt recently. In a previous study (Eckdahl et al in prep) we show that the BC stocks in the mineral soils doubled as a consequence of the forest fires. In this study we will analyse how and where these additional BC is stored in the mineral soils. The BC in soils can be either bound to mineral grains or as free particles in the soils. The research question is to answer if the added BC is in free particulate form or bound to mineral grains in the soils. This is a key question for understanding the cycling of naturally produced BC.

Project plan

The task is to set up a method for separating the mineral bound BC fraction from the free BC fraction. The separation of the two fractions will be achieved by sieving and heavy-liquid separation. BC of the fractions will be isolated by thermal and chemical oxidation, and quantified by flash-combustion elemental analysis. We will also use spectroscopic methods and microscopy to characterise the BC-fractions, potentially including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and x-ray photon spectroscopy (XPS).

The laboratory work will be at the Department of Geology during spring 2022.

The project can be either set up as a 30 or 45 credit project.

Is this for you?

This project is laboratory intense and is suitable if you want to develop laboratory skills and work in a research project. We think that you have some basic laboratory training from previous courses and want to work with new methods and method development.

Main supervisor: Karl Ljung (Geology Lund Univeristy).

Co-supervisors: Johan Eckdahl (Lund and Umeå Univeristy); Dan Metcalfe (Umeå University); Jeppe Kristensen (Oxford University)

Contact: Karl Ljung, karl [dot] ljung [at] geol [dot] lu [dot] se, 046-2223996

Inlagt: 2022-01-03

Postglacial immigration of plants and animals to northern Greenland

It is known that both wild mammals and humans colonised Greenland from the Canadian Archipelago at the end of the last Ice Age. However, the knowledge about when and in what order these colonisations happened, as well as how the environment changed, is limited. As part of an icebreaker-based expedition to northern Greenland in 2019, sediment sequences from small lakes on ice-free peninsulas were collected. The aim of the project is to generate detailed records of when wild mammals and humans first appeared in Greenland, as well their demographic histories after their initial colonisation of the island. One or two master thesis projects can be based on this unique material. Highly resolved lithological and geochemical analyses, as well as robust age determination of the sediment records will form the basis for state-of-the-art palaeogenomic reconstructions involving analyses of fossil DNA in collaboration with researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm. The task(s) can be adjusted to your experience and interest, preferably involving some biostratigraphic method, such as pollen, plant macrofossils or coprophilous fungal spores.

Fieldwork and samples obtained in 2019. A: Sediment sampling from an inflatable boat. B and C: Russian-core sediment section with close-up. D and E: Surface sediment samples from two of the lakes, obtained by a gravity corer. F: Surface sediments with fish eggs. G and H: Aerial photograph and sub-bottom seismics profile from one of the lakes.

Supervisors: Dan Hammarlund, Anne Birgitte Nielsen
Date added: 2021-12-02

Age and origin of postglacial sediment slumps in Lake Siljan, central Sweden

As part of an ongoing project focussing on the deglaciation dynamics and subsequent lake development of the Siljan region in the county of Dalarna, sediment records from 20-50 m depth in Lake Orsajön have already been obtained. Together with detailed sonar-based bathymetry surveys, these investigations provide evidence of km-sized sediment slumps at great depths that probably took place in the early Holocene. To clarify their timing and triggering processes, similar slump deposits in the even larger and deeper Lake Siljan will be sampled by piston coring in the early spring of 2022. An opportunity for a master thesis project, preferably involving participation in the fieldwork, is offered based on this material. The methods involved will include age determination and age modelling based on radiocarbon dating, lithological and geochemical analyses of lake sediments, as well as interpretation of geophysical data. NOTE: The fieldwork is planned take place during the first week of March, so please let us know as soon as possible if you are interested.

bathymetry image
Sonar-based bathymetry image (depth scale in m) of the southern part of the deep channel running through Lake Siljan, demonstrating a massive slump scar through sloping sediments and adjacent dislocated deposits. The inset photograph shows the preferred fieldwork approach, UWITEC piston coring, for sampling of sediment records from deep lakes.

Supervisors: Dan Hammarlund, Per Möller, Karl Ljung
Date added: 2021-12-02

Solar storms in a paleoperspective

The recent discovery of abrupt short-term radionuclide production rate increases received considerable attention since they can be related to enormous solar storms (see e.g. ).  Such an event could have devastating effects on our technological infrastructure today. Significant efforts are nowadays focusing on high-resolution (annual) 14C measurements in tree rings to identify more of such events. However, ice core 10Be and 36Cl records have the potential to (i) increase the possibility for more reliable detection of such strong solar storm events and (ii) characterise such events in terms of number of particles and energy.

The master thesis will focus on the investigation of potential new solar storm events. It will likely involve ice core sampling at the ice core storage in Copenhagen and it will involve 10Be and 36Cl sample preparation at Lund University. The analysis will include an assessment of the likelihood of the identification of new solar storm event and an assessment of its characteristics.

Supervisors: Raimund Muscheler, Florian Mekhaldi
Date added: 2019-01-24

Are you a geology student and interested in archeology and palynology?

Write your thesis within the project "Archeology in Vännebo - a research study"

The lake Vännebosjön is located in Roasjö parish, Svenljunga municipality, Västergötland (approx. 200 km north of Lund). Along its eastern shore, a number of Iron Age metal objects have been found, including gilded horse harness details, weapons and more, that could typically be dated to the Migration Period, ie around AD 400-550.
The history of the area is relatively unknown despite its spectacular finds. Therefore, with the help of modern archaeological methodology and interdisciplinary working methods, we want to try to understand the development of the site during prehistoric times in general and the migration period in particular. Was there a settlement adjacent to the place of sacrifice? If so, where was it? When were the possible settlements established and how have the landscape and vegetation changed in the vicinity of the lake during the Middle and Late Iron Age?

Pollen analysis of the lake sediments in Vännebosjön, preferably two drill cores - that will be your task!
Other interdisciplinary methods that will be used: soil chemical analyzes, georadar and magnetometer surveys, metal detection.

The goal is to carry out the field work steps (including the pollen analysis) during 2021 and 2022. The time frame is flexible and depending on how the analysis results turn out, the project will be extended.

Supervisors: Karl Ljung, Anne Birgitte Nielsen
In collaboration with archaeologists: Elinor Malmberg, Simon Karlsson, Kulturmiljö, VGR
Date added: 2021-04-16


eichstatt berlin
Photo: Elisabeth Einarsson