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Personal profile

Research interests

My research characterizes molecular and isotopic compositions of sedimentary organic matter as a tool for reconstructing ancient environmental conditions.  My current projects utilize carbon and deuterium signatures of biomarkers - the molecular remains of algae and plants - to trace hydroclimate and ecosystem fragmentation in eastern Africa during major junctures in human evolution, ca. 6-to-1 million years ago.  In tropical lake systems, deuterium composition of biomarkers reflects local water cycle dynamics, which in turn are sensitive to seasonality, precipitation intensity and monsoon circulation.  Carbon isotope compositions are also linked to hydroclimate through the influences of water on plant community composition and structure.  Recently, I have become interested in the utility of ‘landscape biomarkers’ – such as n-alkylresorcinols – preserved in ancient soils towards mapping wetland environments and spatial distributions of water.  This quantitative approach to environmental reconstruction may provide powerful insights into the immediate selective pressures experienced by early humans.


  • QE Geology
  • Geoscience
  • Geochemistry
  • Isotopes
  • GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
  • Human evolution
  • Hominin
  • Dietary preference

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Clayton Magill is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 1 Similar Profiles
Olduvai event Earth & Environmental Sciences
gorge Earth & Environmental Sciences
biomarker Earth & Environmental Sciences
lacustrine deposit Earth & Environmental Sciences
lipid Earth & Environmental Sciences
paleoclimate Earth & Environmental Sciences
Ecosystem Medicine & Life Sciences
alkenone Earth & Environmental Sciences

Co Author Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2005 2019

(In)coherent multiproxy signals in marine sediments: Implications for high-resolution paleoclimate reconstruction

Ausín, B., Magill, C., Haghipour, N., Fernández, Á., Wacker, L., Hodell, D., Baumann, K. H. & Eglinton, T. I., 1 Jun 2019, In : Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 515, p. 38-46 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Organic carbon
marine sediment

Isotopic variance among plant lipid homologues correlates with biodiversity patterns of their source communities

Magill, C. R., Eglinton, G. & Eglinton, T. I., 27 Feb 2019, In : PLoS ONE. 14, 2, e0212211.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Keeping up with hydrology during the Messinian salinity crisis

Krawielicki, J., Magill, C. R., Eglinton, T. I., Cosentino, D. & Willett, S., 2 Sep 2019, 29th International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry. EAGE Publishing BV

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Paleofloral dependence of coal methane sorption capacity

Busch, A., Han, F. & Magill, C., 1 Jul 2019, In : International Journal of Coal Geology. 211, 103232.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Proliferation of hydrocarbon-degrading microbes at the bottom of the Mariana Trench

Liu, J., Zheng, Y., Lin, H., Wang, X., Li, M., Liu, Y., Yu, M., Zhao, M., Pedentchouk, N., Lea-Smith, D. J., Todd, J. D., Magill, C. R., Zhang, W-J., Zhou, S., Song, D., Zhong, H., Xin, Y., Yu, M., Tian, J. & Zhang, X-H., 12 Apr 2019, In : Microbiome. 7, 47.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Oceans and Seas

Press / Media

Research reveals insects were major food source millions of years ago

Clayton Magill & Julie Lesnik


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Research

From the Field

Clayton Magill & Julie Lesnik


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Research