Dr Pauline Treble

Isotope Paleoclimateologist
Phone - +61 2 9717 9356


Role at ANSTO

Dr Treble is a mid-career researcher with an international reputation in the field of speleothem (cave deposit) palaeoclimate research. She is currently employed as a Research Scientist within the Environment project at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). She specialises in constructing stalagmite-based terrestrial palaeoclimate records for the southern Australian region. She employs stable isotopic (d18O) and trace element data from stalagmites, as well as age measurements using the uranium-thorium disequilibrium technique, to build high-resolution terrestrial palaeoclimate records. These records provide a history of the natural variability of rainfall and diffuse recharge above a cave site. They hence form critical baseline information required to identify and understand climate change for this important water resource region.


A strong component of this research employs caves as a natural laboratory to constrain the climate-cave signal and other processes.  This involves studying the surface and shallow groundwater interactions, soil characteristics, karst hydrology, landscape and vegetation change e.g. fire, and how these processes influence the hydrogeochemical evolution of diffuse recharge to cave drip water. Dr Treble supervises both Honours and PhD level students on these projects.



Speleothem, carbonate, stalagmite, cave, O isotopes, paleoclimatology, trace element.

Qualifications & Achievements


  • British Council Exchange Award for young scientists (2007)
  • Ph.D. in Speleothem Paleoclimatology, Australian National University (2003)
  • BSc (Hons I & University Medal) University of Sydney(1998)

Selected publications

Treble, P.C., Bradley, C., Wood, A., Baker, A., Jex, C.N., Fairchild, I.J., Gagan, M.K., Cowley, J., Azcurra, A., (2013). An isotopic and modelling study of flow paths and storage in Quaternary aeolinite, SW Australia: implications for speleothem paleoclimate records. Quaternary Science Reviews, 64: 90-103.

Fitzsimmons, K.E., Cohen, T.J., Hesse, P.P., Jansen, J., Nansen, G.C., May, J.H., Barrows, T.T., Haberlah, D., Hilgers, A., Kelly, T., Larsen, J.R., Lomax, J., Treble, P.C., (2013). Late Quaternary palaeoenvironmental change in the Australian drylands. Quaternary Science Reviews, 74: 78-96.

Mills, K., Gell, P., Gergis,, J., Baker, P., Finlayson, M., Hesse, P.L., Jones, R. Kershaw, P., Pearson,, S., Treble, P.C., Barr, C., Brookhouse, M., Drysdale, R., McDonald, J., Haberle, S., Reid, M., Thoms, M. and Tibby, J. Paleoclimate studies and natural resource management in the Murray-Darling Basin II: unravelling human impacts and climate variability. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences (in press).

Cohen, T.J., Nanson, G.C., Jansen, J.D., Jones, B.G., Jacobs, Z., Larsen, J.R., May, J.H., Treble, P., Price, D.M., Smith, A.M., 2012. Late Quaternary mega-lakes fed by the northern and southern river systems of central Australia: varying moisture sources and increased continental aridity. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoecology 356-357, 89-108.

Cohen, T.J., Nanson, G.C., Jansen, J.D., Jones, B.G., Jacobs, Z., Treble, P., Price, D.M., May, J.H., Smith, A.M., Ayliffe, L.K., C, H.J., 2011. Continenal aridification and the vanishing of Australia's megalakes. Geology 39, 167-170.

Lewis, S., Gagan, M., Ayliffe, L., Zhao, J.-x., Hantoro, W., Treble, P., Hellstrom, J., LeGrande, A., Kelley, M., Schmidt, G., Suwargadi, B., 2011. High-resolution stalagmite reconstructions of Australian-Indonesian monsoon rainfall variability during Heinrich stadial 3 and Greenland interstadial 4. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 303, 133-142.

Fairchild, I.J., Treble, P.C., 2009. Traceelementsinspeleothemsasrecordersofenvironmentalchange. Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 449-468.

Fischer, M.J., and P.C. Treble (2008), Calibrating climate δ18O regression models for the interpretation of high-resolution speleothem  δ18O time series, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D17103, doi:10.1029/2007JD009694.

Treble, P.C., Fairchild, I.J., Fischer, M.J. 2008 Understanding climate proxies in southwest-Australian speleothems. PAGES News, 16(3), 17-19.

P.C. Treble, A.K. Schmitt, R.L. Edwards, K.D. McKeegan, T.M. Harrison, M. Grove, H. Cheng, Y.J. Wang 2007. High resolution Secondary Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) d18O analyses fof Hulu Cave speleothem at the time of Heinrich Event 1. Chemical Geology 238: 197-212.

P.C. Treble, J.M.A. Chappell, M.K. Gagan, T.M. Harrison and K.D. McKeegan 2005. In situ measurement of seasonal d18O variations and analysis of isotopic trends in a modern speleothem from southwest Australia. Earth and Planetary Science Science Letters 233:17-32.

P.C. Treble, J.M.G. Shelley and J.M.A. Chappell 2003. Comparison of high-resolution sub-annual records of trace elements in a modern (1911-1992) speleothem with instrumental climate data from southwest Australia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 216, 141-153.