Professor of Geosystems, University of Birmingham

Ian Fairchild is a geoscientist with broad interests in the geochemistry of the Earth’s surface, climate change and Quaternary and Neoproterozoic earth history. He employs this breadth of knowledge in teaching, in public outreach, and professional activities such as examining and research assessment. He is equally at home in the field and the laboratory with a wealth of experience in glacial environments, caves, rock successions and at national and international geochemical research facilities.

Research interests

Speleothems and Climate Change, especially the development of palaeoclimate proxies and the understanding of karst processes including their hydrology. See also
Glaciation and carbonates in deep time - The Cryogenian. See GAINS project
Aqueous Geochemistry in relation to weathering reactions and hydrology in glacial and riverine environments (Iceland, Himalayas).
Experimental studies of mineral-water interactions

Ian is a Chartered Geologist and a former Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. His research on geochemical aspects of earth surface processes and systems commenced in 1990 and has encompassed climatic, glacial, karstic and experimental themes, complementing a longer-standing interest in carbonates and ice ages in deep time. His academic career started with undergraduate study of geology at Nottingham (BSc 1974) before undertaking research on sedimentology of Scottish metasediments (PhD 1978). During his PhD studies he took up a demonstratorship at Cambridge in January 1977 before being appointed lecturer in Sedimentology at Birmingham in June 1980. After promotion to Senior Lecturer in 1993, he moved to Keele University in January 1996 as Professor of Earth Surface Processes. He was successively a Head of Department (1998-2001) and Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and member of the University’s senior management team (2001-2003) at Keele.

He returned to the University of Birmingham in September 2003 as Professor of Physical Geography and became retitled Professor of Geosystems in 2010 reflecting his change of academic leadership responsibilities. Ian has been the Chief Editor of the Journal of the Geological Society (1996-2000) and an Editor of Reviews of Geophysics (2005-2010). He has much experience with the Natural Environmental Research Council and was a member of the sub-panel for Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. He was Head of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at Birmingham for the calendar years 2012 and 2013. He currently works part-time.


  • –present
    Professor of Geosystems, University of Birmingham