Robert G. Hatfield

Assistant Professor
Department of Geological Sciences




B.Sc. (Hons) Geography, Lancaster University, UK, 2003
Ph.D. Physical Geography, Lancaster University, UK, 2008


Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Winsor, Canada. 2008 – 2009
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Oregon State University, USA. 2010 – 2018
Research Associate, Oregon State University, USA. 2018 – 2019
Visiting Scholar, Stanford University, USA. 2018 – 2019
Assistant Professor, University of Florida, USA. 2019 –

Areas of Interest/Research

All materials on earth exhibit a response when exposed to a natural or laboratory-induced magnetic field. My research focuses on using the natural magnetic properties of rocks and sediments to understand past changes in earth systems and earth processes. Broadly speaking my research follows two themes.

Environmental Magnetism

Just as mineralogy and geochemistry vary with geology and are sensitive to changes in erosion, transport, and deposition, the magnetic properties of terrestrial, lake, and marine sediments can reflect shifts in provenance and/or environmental process change. Using a sophisticated suite of magnetic tools, and by exploiting the affinity that different magnetic components have with different sediment size fractions, my research uses aims to understand environmental process change over a range of temporal and spatial scales. Utilizing this approach we have fingerprinted sediment sources in lake catchments, glaciated landscapes, and in coastal forelands and used these variations to reconstruct past changes in ice-sheets, understand provenance and circulation within ocean basins, and track the timing of and changes in human land-use practices. Currently, I am focussed on reconstructing ice-sheet behavior and ocean circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean and sediment provenance to the Peruvian margin.


During sediment deposition in lake and marine settings naturally occurring iron-bearing grains can orientate themselves with respect to earth’s magnetic field. With increasing sediment accumulation and subsequent burial, these grains can become fixed into position, effectively recording the strength and position of the earth’s magnetic field at that time. As the direction and intensity of the earth’s magnetic field changes through time, continually accumulating sedimentary records can archive a past-history of Earth’s magnetic field variation. When regionally (e.g. paleosecular variation) and/or globally (e.g. excursions and reversals) dated geomagnetic events are preserved they can serve as magnetostratigraphic horizons and important chronological markers. One focus of my paleomagnetic research is to use the magnetic properties of the sediment record to provide chronostratigraphic constraints. Additionally, we seek to provide new observations of the behavior of the earth’s magnetic field. Recently, I have focused on generating new relative paleointensity (RPI) observations from the Pliocene, the most recent period when atmospheric CO2 was similar to, and global temperatures were higher than, today to provide global reference curves and tuning targets.

Please go to my google scholar page or my research page to view more details of my publications and projects.

Prospective Graduate Students

I am currently looking for motivated graduate students to join my research group at UF! I encourage students interested in environmental magnetism and/or paleomagnetism to contact me ( to discuss future research interests and opportunities. You can learn more about the graduate programs in the Department of Geological Sciences at UF by following this link.

Contact Information

Office: Williamson Hall

Mailing address:
Department of Geological Sciences
University of Florida
P.O. Box 112120
Gainesville, FL 32611-2120