Dr Matthew Telfer

Dr Matthew Telfer

Associate Professor of Physical Geography

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


As a Lecturer in Physical Geography in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, I teach on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and I am currently also departmental Admissions Tutor. My research interests lie in geomorphology, geochronology and environmental change, especially in drylands.


I have a BSc (Joint Hons.) from the University of Bristol in Geography and Geology, and after narrowly avoiding a career in petroleum geology, I worked for the University of Southampton's palaeoecology laboratory for 3 years. Following this, I started a part-time PhD at the University of Sheffield with Prof David Thomas, studying the late Quaternary development of the southwestern Kalahari desert. I earned my keep at the time with various technical and RA projects, including the development of a GIS database to support a co-IGCP (International Geological Correlation Programme)  initiative, and support for the luminescence dating labs in Sheffield. I moved to Oxford University in 2005, working initially as a Technician whilst I finished my PhD (awarded 2007), and then as Research Associate to the Oxford Luminescence Dating laboratory.

I joined the University of Plymouth as a Lecturer in 2010.

Professional membership

Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society
Quaternary Research Association (member)
Britsh Society for Geomorphology (member)

Teaching interests

I am currently module leader for GGP2205 (Desert Environments), and also teach on GGP1200/GGP1202/GGX1201 (Practising Geography), GGX2201 and GGX2202 (Principles and Applications of Geography)and GGP3201 (Advanced Fieldwork in Geography). I also teach on the Masters courses GEES503 (Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems).

Research interests

Quaternary environmental change
Geomorphology, particularly in drylands
Geochronology, particularly luminescence dating

Grants & contracts

2010 - "Establishing a multiproxy Quaternary palaeoenvironmental record for low altitude, arid mainland Spain" £2350 (UoP PUP fund)
2010 - Royal Society Conference/Travel fund £1550 (XVIII INQUA Congress, Bern, Switzerland)
2008 - “Determining the extent, timing, and cause of Quaternary uplift along the Atlantic coast of Africa and Iberia”. Collaborator on Royal Society Research grant  £50k (fieldwork and OSL dating marine terraces in Portugal, Morocco and Angola with Dr Richard Walker, University of Oxford)
2008 - "Extension of linear dunes", QRA Quaternary Research Fund £475 (fieldwork in Northern Cape, South Africa)
2008 - Nominated for HEFCE Teaching Excellence Award
2007 - Royal Society Conference Fund £1100 (XVII INQUA Congress, Cairns, Australia)
2005 - QRA Conference Fund £205 (2nd Southern Deserts meeting, Arica, Chile)
2005 - BGRG Postgraduate Research grant £250 (ICP analyses for OSL dosimetry)
2004 - NERC ICP Facility £525 (ICP analyses for OSL dosimetry)
2004 - SBS Daresbury Prize joint first for best Student Poster, St Andrews, UKLum meeting.

Key publications are highlighted

Dahmardeh Behrooz R, Gholami H, Telfer MW, Jansen JD & Fathabadi A 2019 'Corrigendum to “Using GLUE to pull apart the provenance of atmospheric dust” [Aeolian Res. 37 (2019) 1–13]' Aeolian Research , DOI
Stone A, Bateman MD, Burrough SL, Garzanti E, Limonta M, Radeff G & Telfer MW 2019 'Using a portable luminescence reader for rapid age assessment of aeolian sediments for reconstructing dunefield landscape evolution in southern Africa' Quaternary Geochronology 49, 57-64 , DOI PEARL
Behrooz RD, Gholami H, Telfer MW, Jansen JD & Fathabadi A 2018 'Using GLUE to pull apart the provenance of atmospheric dust' Aeolian Research 37, 1-13 , DOI PEARL
Telfer MWJ, Parteli E, Radebaugh J, Beyer R, Bertrand T, Forget F, Nimmo F, Grundy W, Moore J 2018 'Dunes on Pluto' Science , DOI PEARL
Chappell A, Lee JA, Baddock M, Gill TE, Herrick JE, Leys JF, Marticorena B, Petherick L, Schepanski K 2018 'A clarion call for aeolian research to engage with global land degradation and climate change' Aeolian Research 32, A1-A3 , DOI
Gholami H, Telfer MW, Blake WH & Fathabadi A 2017 'Aeolian sediment fingerprinting using a Bayesian mixing model' Earth Surface Processes and Landforms , DOI PEARL
Chojnacki M & Telfer MW 2017 'Editorial Introduction: Fourth Planetary Dunes Workshop Special Issue' Aeolian Research 26, 1-3 , DOI PEARL
Telfer MW, Hesse PP, Perez-Fernandez M, Bailey RM, Bajkan S & Lancaster N 2017 'Morphodynamics, boundary conditions and pattern evolution within a vegetated linear dunefield' Geomorphology 290, 85-100 , DOI PEARL
Hesse PP, Telfer MW & Farebrother W 2017 'Complexity confers stability: Climate variability, vegetation response and sand transport on longitudinal sand dunes in Australia’s deserts' Aeolian Research 25, 45-61 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Mills SC, Barrows TT, Telfer MW & Fifield LK 2016 'The cold climate geomorphology of the Eastern Cape Drakensberg: A reevaluation of past climatic conditions during the last glacial cycle in Southern Africa' Geomorphology 278, 184-194 , DOI PEARL
Walker RT, Telfer M, Kahle RL, Dee MW, Kahle B, Schwenninger J-L, Sloan RA & Watts AB 2016 'Rapid mantle-driven uplift along the Angolan margin in the late Quaternary' Nature Geoscience , DOI PEARL
Diniega S, Kreslavsky M, Radebaugh J, Silverstro S, Telfer M & Tirsch D 2016 'Our evolving understanding of aeolian bedforms, based on observation of dunes on different worlds' Aeolian Research , DOI PEARL
Telfer MW, Fyfe RM & Lewin S 2015 'Automated mapping of linear dunefield morphometric parameters from remotely-sensed data' Aeolian Research 19, 215-224 , DOI
Gallagher C, Telfer MW & Ó Cofaigh C 2015 'A Marine Isotope Stage 4 age for Pleistocene raised beach deposits near Fethard, southern Ireland' Journal of Quaternary Science 30, (8) 754-763 , DOI
Geach MR, Thomsen KJ, Buylaert J-P, Murray AS, Mather AE, Telfer MW & Stokes M 2015 'Single-grain and multi-grain OSL dating of river terrace sediments in the Tabernas Basin, SE Spain' Quaternary Geochronology Publisher Site , DOI PEARL
Geach MR, Viveen W, Mather AE, Telfer MW, Fletcher WJ, Stokes M & Peyron O 2015 'An integrated field and numerical modelling study of controls on Late Quaternary fluvial landscape development (Tabernas, SE Spain)' Earth Surface Processes and Landforms Publisher Site , DOI
Parton A, Farrant AR, Leng MJ, Telfer MW, Groucutt HS, Petraglia MD & Parker AG 2015 'Alluvial fan records from southeast Arabia reveal multiple windows for human dispersal' GEOLOGY 43, (4) 295-298 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW 2014 'Modelling palaeosol preservation in aeolian dunes' EARTH SURFACE PROCESSES AND LANDFORMS 39, (15) 2016-2026 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW, Mills SC & Mather AE 2014 'Extensive Quaternary aeolian deposits in the Drakensberg foothills, Rooiberge, South Africa' GEOMORPHOLOGY 219, 161-175 Author Site , DOI
Geach MR, Stokes M, Telfer MW, Mather AE, Fyfe RM, Lewin & S 2014 'The application of geospatial interpolation methods in the reconstruction of Quaternary landform records' Geomorphology 216, 234-246 , DOI
Telfer MW & Hesse PP 2013 'Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions from linear dunefields: recent progress, current challenges and future directions' QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS 78, 1-21 Author Site , DOI
Wilson P, Lord TC, Telfer MW, Barrows TT & Vincent PJ 2013 'Dating in the Craven Dales' Geology Today 29, (1) 16-22 , DOI
Ó Cofaigh C, Telfer MW, Bailey RM & Evans DJA 2012 'Late Pleistocene chronostratigraphy and ice sheet limits, southern Ireland' Quaternary Science Reviews 44, 160-179 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW, Thomas ZA & Breman E 2012 'Sand ramps in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, South Africa: Evidence of periglacial aeolian activity during the last glacial' PALAEOGEOGRAPHY PALAEOCLIMATOLOGY PALAEOECOLOGY 313, 59-69 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW 2011 'Growth by extension, and reworking, of a south-western Kalahari linear dune' Earth Surf. Process. Landforms 36, (8) 1125-1135 Author Site , DOI
VINCENT PETERJ, LORD TOMC, TELFER MATTW & WILSON PETER 2011 'Early Holocene loessic colluviation in northwest England: new evidence for the 8.2 ka event in the terrestrial record?' Boreas 40, (1) 105-115 , DOI
Telfer MW, Bailey RM, Burrough SL, Stone AES, Thomas DSG & Wiggs GSF 2010 'Understanding linear dune chronologies: Insights from a simple accumulation model' GEOMORPHOLOGY 120, (3-4) 195-208 Author Site , DOI
Walker RT, Claisse S, Telfer MWJ, Nissen E, England P, Bryant C & Bailey R 2010 'Preliminary estimate of Holocene slip rate on active normal faults bounding the southern coast of the Gulf of Evia, central Greece' Geosphere 6, (5) 583-593 , DOI
Telfer MW, Wilson P, Lord TC & Vincent PJ 2009 'New constraints on the age of the last ice sheet glaciation in NW England using optically stimulated luminescence dating' JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE 24, (8) 906-915 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW, Thomas DSG, Parker AG, Walkington H & Finch AA 2009 'Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating and palaeoenvironmental studies of pan (playa) sediment from Witpan, South Africa' PALAEOGEOGRAPHY PALAEOCLIMATOLOGY PALAEOECOLOGY 273, (1-2) 50-60 Author Site , DOI
Brncic TM, Willis KJ, Harris DJ, Telfer MW & Bailey RM 2009 'Fire and climate change impacts on lowland forest composition in northern Congo during the last 2580 years from palaeoecological analyses of a seasonally flooded swamp' HOLOCENE 19, (1) 79-89 Author Site , DOI
Holmes PJ, Bateman MD, Thomas DSG, Telfer MW, Barker CH & Lawson MP 2008 'A Holocene-late Pleistocene aeolian record from lunette dunes of the western Free State panfield, South Africa' HOLOCENE 18, (8) 1193-1205 Author Site , DOI
Wilson P, Vincent PJ, Telfer MW & Lord TC 2008 'Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of loessic sediments and cemented scree in northwest England' HOLOCENE 18, (7) 1101-1112 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW, Bateman MD, Carr AS & Chase BM 2008 'Testing the applicability of a standardized growth curve (SGC) for quartz OSL dating: Kalahari dunes, South African coastal dunes and Florida dune cordons' QUATERNARY GEOCHRONOLOGY 3, (1-2) 137-142 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW & Thomas DSG 2007 'Late Quaternary linear dune accumulation and chronostratigraphy of the southwestern Kalahari: implications for aeolian palaeoclimatic reconstructions and predictions of future dynamics' QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS 26, (19-21) 2617-2630 Author Site , DOI
Telfer MW & Thomas DSG 2006 'Complex Holocene lunette dune development, South Africa: Implications for paleoclimate and models of pan development in arid regions' GEOLOGY 34, (10) 853-856 Author Site , DOI
Telfer M 2015 'Luminescence, desert dunes' Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series 452-456
Telfer MW 2013 '11.10 Clay Deposits' Treatise on Geomorphology Elsevier 184-200 , DOI
Conference Papers
Zondervan JR, Stokes M, Jain M, Buylaert J-P, Telfer MW & Murray AS 2018 'Chronology for mountainous river terraces: OSL/IRSL and rock dating techniques applied to carbonate-rich terraces in the Atlas Mountains' UK Luminescence and ESR Dating Meeting Sheffield, UK 11/09/2018 12/09/2018 Publisher Site
Zondervan JR, Stokes M, Boulton SJ, Mather AE & Telfer MW 2018 'Palaeo river long profile reconstruction in a fold-and-thrust belt: river terraces as archives of Quaternary incision and aggradation in the Atlas Mountains' FLAG 2018 Liege, Belgium 03/09/2018 07/09/2018 Publisher Site
Zondervan JR, Stokes M, Boulton SJ, Mather AE & Telfer MW 2018 'Catchment changes in response to tectonics and climate: using river terraces and DEM data in the southern High Atlas Mountains (Morocco)' WGSG 2018 4th Meeting of the Working Group on Sediment Generation, Dublin PEARL