About

My primary research focuses on reconstructing the geologic histories of important vertebrate fossil-bearing continental deposits. My research involves sedimentary facies and provenance analysis (heavy mineral geochronology), coupled with taphonomy, ichnology and geochronology. A key aspect of my research is to provide geologic context to the vertebrate and hominin faunas preserved within these basins and karst settings. This holistic approach to sedimentology is critical to testing a variety of hypotheses related to past environments and climates, uplift and drainage histories, palaeobiogeography, and extinction and evolution of vertebrate and plant communities.

My three primary research themes include:

1) geological characterisation & dating of early anthropoid primate and hominin records from karst systems of South Africa (e.g. Rising Star Cave) and rift deposits of the East African Rift System.

2) palaeontological exploration, stratigraphy and dating of Jurassic & Cretaceous strata throughout Gondwana (esp., Australia; Africa; Antarctica).

3) stratigraphy, palaeontology & high-precision geochronology of the Western Interior Basin, North America.

 

****I am always seeking students interested in conducting PhD research that integrate tectonic, sedimentologic (detrital geochronology) and palaeontologic data for reconstructing Mesozoic-Cenozoic sedimentary basins in Australia, China, North America, and Africa. James Cook University offers competitive PhD scholarships to well-qualified applicants. Please email me for details (eric.roberts@jcu.edu.au).****

Go to my research group website for more information.  http://www.gravelmonkeys.org

Teaching
  • EA2110: Introduction to Sedimentology (Level 2; TSV)
  • EA3650: Sedimentary Environments and Energy Resources (Level 3; TSV)
  • EA5650: Sedimentary Environments and Energy Resources (Level 5; TSV)
  • SC1101: Science: Nature, Knowledge and Understanding (Level 1; TSV)
Experience
  • 2001 to 2005 - PhD, University of Utah
  • 1997 to 1999 - MSc, University of Montana
  • 1992 to 1996 - BA, Cornell College
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Awards
  • 2017 - James Cook University Excellence Award for Research (awarded to the entire Geosciences Group at JCU)
  • 2015 - James Cook University Excellence Award for Research
Other
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Earth Sciences
  • Associate Editor, Palaios
  • Editorial Board Member, Scientific Data (Nature)
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 78+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Eric Roberts from 2004 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Jurassic Arc? Reconstructing the Lost World of Eastern Australia

Indicative Funding
$284,390 over 3 years
Summary
This project aims to resolve a long-standing enigma about the geological formation of the Great Artesian Basin ? Australia?s most important onshore reservoir for groundwater and hydrocarbon resources. Specifically, the project will integrate sedimentological and geochemical studies to investigate the geodynamic configuration of Eastern Australia during the Jurassic Period of basin formation. The intended outcomes are an improved understanding of the evolution of the Australian continent and better knowledge of the formation of intercontinental sedimentary basins, which includes better assessment of their potential to contain hydrocarbon resources.
Investigators
Carl Spandler, Eric Roberts, Anthony Kemp and Bob Henderson (College of Science & Engineering and The University of Western Australia)
Keywords
Jurassic; Great Artesian Basin; Zircon; Tectonics

Leakey Foundation - Research Grant

Dating hominin fossils in the East African Rift, Malawi

Indicative Funding
$25,787
Summary
This project will use detrital zircon geochronology to date the Paranthropus boisei and Homo rudolfenisis hominin fossils from the northern Malawi Rift. These fossils are remarkable, as they represent a co-occurrence of these two species in southwestern Africa, the meeting point for endemic faunas of both southern and eastern Africa. The location of the fossils in the volcanic East African Rift System is a perfect depositional setting in which to apply detrital zircon geochronology to precisely date P. boisei and H. rudolfensis, to test hypotheses about faunal exchange between the two 'cradles' of humankind, in south and east Africa.
Investigators
Hannah Hilbert-Wolf, Eric Roberts, Timothy Bromage and Friedmann Schrenk (College of Science & Engineering, New York University and Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat)
Keywords
Hominin; Sedimentology; Geochronology; Geology; Malawi; Palaeoanthropology

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Life and death of Australopithicus sediba: how a potential ancestor ended up dead in a cave in world heritage site in South Africa

Indicative Funding
$256,000 over 2 years
Summary
In August 2008 the remarkable Malapa fossil site was discovered with remains of the first and only fossils of Australopithecus sediba - a potential direct human ancestor. The fossils are in an exceptional state of preservation, and excavations will start in late 2013, creating a unique opportunity to develop a detailed understanding of the chemical, physical and biological factors that led to burial and fossilisation. This research will focus on the complex interplay between termites, sediment chemistry, landscape conditions and palaeo-climate as contributing factors to fossil preservation. Results will document the environment in which sediba lived and died, and assist future exploration for hominid fossils.
Investigators
Paul Dirks, Eric Roberts, Carl Spandler and Tom Blenkinsop in collaboration with Lee Berger and Zubair Jinnah (College of Science & Engineering and University of the Witwatersrand - Johannesburg)
Keywords
Australopithicus sediba; Taphonomy; Geochemistry
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Cenozoic Seismic Stratigraphy of the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Structure and stratigraphy of the Oobagooma Sub-Basin, Northwest Shelf, Western Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Establishing a Tectonic Framework for the Cretaceous break-up of Eastern Gondwana: Insights from Papua New Guinea and Offshore Geology of the Coral and Tasman Seas. (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Paleoenvironmental and Paleoclimatic Analysis of Selected Cretaceous, Oligocene and Miocene Palesols from the Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Cave sedimentation processes, geochronology, and the distribution of hominins at Rising Star Cave, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Mesozoic Detrital Zircon Provenance of Central Africa: Implications for Jurassic-Cretaceous Tectonics, Paleogeography and Landscape Evolution. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Understanding the Genesis and Patterns of Cave Fill across the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Revealing the Enigmatic Alkaline Volcanism of the Rukwa Rift through Weather Resistant Minerals and their Inclusions (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Basin Analysis of Queensland's Jurassic to Cretaceous Basins, and the application of U-Pb Detrital Zircon Geochronology to Reconstruct Tectonic History and Palaeodrainage Evolution. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Bentonite Tephrostratigraphy and High-Precision Geochronology of Richly Fossiliferous Upper Cretaceous Continental Strata in the Western Interior Basin, North America (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Jurassic Arc - Recontructing the Lost World of Eastern Australia (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
Completed
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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Email
Phone
Location
  • 34.149, Earth & Environmental Sciences (Townsville campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Advisor Mentor (P)
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  5. Dr Hannah Hilbert-Wolf
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