School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Jon Telling

Senior Lecturer in Geochem/Geomicrobio



I'm a geochemist/geomicrobiologist with a primary research focus on the role of (bio)geochemistry in controlling carbon and nutrient cycling in the cryosphere of Earth and other planetary bodies.



Google Scholar:


After graduating as a geologist (Durham University), I completed an M.Sc. in Geochemistry (University of Leeds) followed by a Ph.D. on the geomicrobiology of metal deposits in the deep ocean (University of Bristol). This was followed by a postdoctoral position at the University of Toronto (affiliated to the NASA Astrobiology Initiative) examining sources of gases in ancient fluids trapped within Canadian Precambrian Shield rocks. I then returned to the UK to join the Bristol Glaciology Centre (University of Bristol), where I carried out research in Greenland, Antarctica, and Svalbard on how life on and below glaciers and ice sheets impact local and regional biogeochemical cycles. I started my current position as Lecturer in Geochemistry/Geomicrobiology at Newcastle University in August 2016, where I have started a research group focused on terrestrial and extraterrestrial (bio)geochemical cycling in cold environments.


Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Member of American Geophysical Union

Member of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain

Member of the Astrobiology Society of Britain


Research interests

I'm a member of the Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences (EOPS) group within the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. My primary research interests are biogeochemical cycling within the terrestrial cryosphere (with ongoing projects in Antarctica and the Himalayas), and the geochemistry/ potential habitability of cold environments eleswhere in the solar system.

Ongoing projects include:

1. Quantifying the impact of aeolian erosion on the trace gas composition of the Martian atmosphere, linked to the ongoing European Space Agency/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. See further details at the REGRIND webpage: 

2. Investigating the role of aeolian erosion on Mars in altering the organic composition of Martian surface sediments, to aid the interpretation of ExoMars 2020 rover data 

3. Investigating the role of subglacial mechanochemistry (crushing induced reactions) in sustaining life under glaciers and ice sheets (collaborating with US led subglacial Lake Mercer Antarctic drilling mission).

4.  Investigating the role of microorganisms on Himalayan glaciers in controlling nutrient flows and ice melt rates (UK-India Education Research Initiative)

5. Assessing the impact of recent climate change on SW Greenland terrestrial ecosystems (

6. Quantifying the role of UV radiation in controlling the geochemistry and microbial ecology of icy environments on Earth and Mars

Current Funded Grants

2019-2020 Principal Investigator. A photo(bio)reactor for research on icy environments on Earth and Mars. Royal Society Research Grant, £20K.

2018-2021 Co-Principal Investigator. (P.I.: M. Tranter, University of Bristol). CRUSH2LIFE. NERC, £721,000.

2017-2021 Principal Investigator. tRacE MIneral Interactions During Aeolian Erosion On Mars (REGRIND). UK Space Agency Aurora Programme, £307,404 

2018-2022 Principal Investigator.    The impact of Aeolian ABRAsion on the transformation of organic matter and Detectability by the ExoMars 2020 MOMA instrument (ABRADE). UK Space Agency Aurora Programme, £87,273.

2017-2020 Project Partner (P.I. Prof. Jemma Wadham, University of Bristol).  Bio-Climate Feedbacks of Melting Himalayan Ice. UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI).

Esteem indicators

2020 - Member on UK Space Agency Aurora Grant Panel

2019 - Associate Editor of Frontiers in Chemistry/Frontiers in Earth Science (Geochemistry)

2018 - Committee Member of the Geomicrobiology Network, Mineralogical Society of Great Britain

2018 - Committee Member of the Astrobiology Society of Britain

2016 - Guest Associate Editor of Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research Special Issue 'Environmental change impacts in the Kangerlussuaq area, West Greenland'

2015 to present - Invited member of KAngerlussuaq International Research Network (KAIRN), including workshops at Norway (2017),  Acadia National Park US (May 2016) and Loughborough (May 2015).

2015 - Talk at 6th Polar and Alpine Microbiology conference, Czech Republic

2013 - Invited talk and session convenor at 5th Polar and Alpine Microbiology conference, Montana, US.

2012 - Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America (NSF)

2011 - Invited member of the US Long Term Ecological Research programme in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

2011 - Invited talk at NSINK (Sources, sinks and impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the Arctic, Chair A. Hodson), Obergurgl, Austria.


2019 - Quoted in Scientific American article on enigmatic oxygen fluctuations on Mars, Nov 20  

2019 - 'Cause of mysterious methane spikes on Mars still unknown' Fox News, Aug 13, 

2018 - 'Melting ice sheets release tons of methane into the atmosphere' -

2015 - "Ice 'lightning' may have helped life survive when Earth was covered in glaciers", in "The Conversation", Oct 30, http://the

2014 - "Scientists say melting ice sheets are dumping plankton-boosting iron into earth's oceans that could even help capture carbon", Daily Mail online, 21 May (co-author)

2013 - Aided BBC Natural History Unit filming ice crystal formation in experimental cold rooms for documentaries

2012 - "Billions of Tons of Methane Lurk Beneath Antarctic Ice", livescience online magazine, Aug 29 (co-author)

2010 - Role in NERC funded film 'Life on ice' made to promote science to school children


Current teaching (2017/2018)

Module leader - CEG2604 (Global Element Cycling), 10 credits

Module leader - CEG2607 (Geomicrobiology), 10 credits

Module leader - CEG3699 (Earth Science Research Project), 30 credits

Module leader - CEG3690 (Earth Science Group Project), 30 credits