Prof Henry Lamb

BA, University of Dublin, Trinity College, 1976; MSc, University of Minnesota (1978); PhD, University of Cambridge, 1982

Prof Henry Lamb

Personal Chair

Contact Details


I graduated in Natural Sciences (Botany) from the University of Dublin (Trinity College) in 1976, and obtained an MSc in Ecology from the University of Minnesota (1978). My PhD research (University of Cambridge, 1982) was on the Holocene history of the forest-tundra ecotone in Labrador, Canada. I joined DGES in 1983. Until recently, I taught modules in Quaternary Palaeoecology and Biogeography.

My principal research interests are in Quaternary environmental change, specializing in lake-sediment records of climatic and vegetation change. Since 1992, my primary focus has been on East Africa, especially Ethiopia, working with colleagues from Addis Ababa, St Andrews, Bangor, and Cologne. I am Co-Director of the Itrax XRF core scanner facility.



Late Pleistocene desiccation of Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile: Seismic survey showed the optimal location for successful recovery of a 90m core, dated by  radiocarbon & luminescence chronologies to establish a near-continuous palaeoenvironmental record for the last 250,000 years. The seismic and geochemical  data from the core, determined by Itrax XRF core scanning, present a record of changing lake-level and allochthonous sedimentary input. The record shows varied climate towards the end of the penultimate glacial, followed by an abrupt change to relatively stable moist climate during the last interglacial. These conditions could have favoured selection for behavioural versatility, population growth and range expansion, supporting models of early, multiple dispersals of modern humans from Africa  (Lamb et al 2018 :150,000-year palaeoclimate record from northern Ethiopia supports early, multiple dispersals of modern humans from Africa. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS | (2018) 8:1077 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-19601-w )

A film clip on this topic containing an interview with me is available online.

Lake Suigetsu Varves 2006: An international research project based around the 2006 core of Lake Suigetsu in Japan to establish a radiocarbon calibration model for the Late Pleistocene (10,000-50,000 BP) based on radiocarbon analyses of terrestrial plant macrofossils recovered from annually laminated lacustrine sediment. Our contribution used the XRF core scanner to construct a varve chronology from the core.

Hominid Sites & Paleolakes Drilling Project: Project to a obtain a 400m/1 million year core record of climatic change from the sediments of Chew Bahir, south Ethiopia & test hypotheses about

Research Groups


Generating long numerical chronologies for lacustrine sediments from East Africa using luminescence dating: a 250,000 year record of accumulation from Lake Tana, EthiopiaRoberts, H. M., Bryant, C. L., Huws, D. & Lamb, H., 2018 , In : Quaternary Science Reviews.202, p. 66-7712 p.
Comparing pollen and archaeobotanical data for Chalcolithic cereal agriculture at Çatalhöyük, TurkeyEastwood, W. J., Fairbairn, A., Stroud, E., Roberts, N., Lamb, H., Yiğitbaşıoğlu, H., Şenkul, Ç., Moss, A., Turner, R. & Boyer, P., 2018 , In : Quaternary Science Reviews.
An extended and revised Lake Suigetsu varve chronology from ~50 to ~10 ka BP based on detailed sediment micro-facies analysesSchlolaut, G., Staff, R. A., Brauer, A., Lamb, H., Marshall, M. H., Ramsey, C. B. & Nakagawa, T., 2018 , In : Quaternary Science Reviews.200, p. 351-366
Environmental change during MIS4 and MIS 3 opened corridors in the Horn of Africa for Homo sapiens expansionViehberg, F., Just, J., Dean, J. R., Wagner, B., Franz, S. O., Klasen, N., Kleinen, T., Ludwig, P., Asrat, A., Lamb, H., Leng, M. J., Rethemeyer, J., Milodowski, A. E., Claussen, M. & Schäbitz, F., 2018 , In : Quaternary Science Reviews.
Abrupt or Gradual? Change Point Analysis of the Late Pleistocene-Holocene Chew Bahir Record from Southern EthiopiaTrauth, M., Foerster, V., Junginger, A., Asrat, A., Lamb, H. & Schaebitz, F., 2018 , In : Quaternary Research.
More publications on the Research Portal