School of Geography

John Groves


PhD student

Room Number: Geography Building, Room 104


Research interests

My research interests are concentrated around the properties of temperate glaciers, particularly the zone of contact between ice and the underlying sediment, structural sediment analysis and micromorphology. I am also interested in advancing the public dissemination, popularisation and “de-mystification” of science.

Fig. 1 a) - A raw 2D X-ray of an artificial ice core; dark areas are dense while lighter areas are less dense. A large air bubble is visible at the top of the sample, while multiple quartz and shale clasts are visible at the bottom. b) An image "stack" of slices produced by the scanning process which allows for the visualisation of components within the sample interior.

3D Microscopic Examination of Environmental Materials – the Application of μCT and SEM to Diverse Sedimentary Environments

My PhD research deals primarily with the investigation and modelling of glacial and sedimentary materials at the micro scale. Through targeted sampling and analysis of these materials, it is possible to determine the role of microprocesses in a wider environmental context and codify the diversity within sedimentary environments.

X-ray microcomputed tomography (µCT) is a revolutionary technique with its origins in bioimaging which is seeing increased adoption in the geosciences. Samples, such as sediment cores, are scanned using µCT; 3D volumetric models and statistical data are then produced while leaving the sample entirely unscathed (Fig. 1).

The aims of this PhD are to:

  • establish and develop a set of techniques and protocols for efficient and effective µCT scanning of environmental materials such as sediment and ice cores
  • develop µCT into a highly approachable and practical method for the analysis of environmental samples at the micro scale
  • scan samples from diverse environments such as glacier ice, estuarine sediment and glacial till, and use the resulting information to interpret the signatures of microprocesses operating at the micro-scale.



  • Queen Mary University of London Principal’s Research Studentship

Academic background

  • BSc Geography (First Class Honours), Aberystwyth University 
    Dissertation: Constructing Destruction – Post-tsunami Rebuilding in the Developing World.
  • MSc Glaciology (distinction), Aberystwyth University
    Dissertation: The Application of Computed Microtomography to Debris Rich Basal Ice.

Academic presentations

  • Tarplee, M., Phillips, E., van der Meer, J., Davis, G., Schomacker, A., Ingólfsson, Ó., Groves, J., Hubbard, B. (2012) Evaluation of geological specimen composition and structure using X-ray µCT. Part 2: qualitative and quantitative analyses. Paper presented at 30th Nordic Geological Winter Meeting, Reykjavík, Iceland, 9 Jan 2012.




Groves, J., Tarplee, M., Hubbard, B. (Ongoing) The Characteristics of Debris-rich Basal Ice Revealed by X-ray Computed Microtomography.