Julie Trotter

Dr, BSc MSc Macq. , PhD ANU

  • The University of Western Australia (M470), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • 2382 Citations
  • 22 h-Index
1992 …2019

Research output per year

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Personal profile


Julie Trotter’s research and skills bridge the fields of palaeontology and geochemistry. Her early work at Macquarie and Sydney Universities (undergraduate and MSc) focused on the biostratigraphy and palaeoecology of Palaeozoic invertebrate marine faunas from eastern Australia. In 1993 she joined CSIRO Petroleum and managed numerous geochemical projects that underpinned large-scale exploration programmes for the petroleum industry, utilising Sr isotope stratigraphy to deconvolve basin architecture in complex terrains (PNG, Asia, and western Canada). During her PhD (from 2002) she pioneered the application of high spatial resolution in-situ microanalytical geochemical (elemental and isotopic) studies of conodont microfossils at the Australian National University, using excimer laser-ICPMS and ion microprobe systems. This has led to significant advancements and new opportunities to characterise palaeoclimate and environmental change throughout the Palaeozoic and early Mesozoic. More recently, she has made new advances in understanding the relationship between boron isotope systematics (seawater pH proxy) and modern coral calcification, which has significant implications for predicting the effects of ocean acidification on marine calcifiers.
Julie’s varied research projects employ a suite of geochemical proxies to deconvolve seawater chemistry from modern and fossil biogenic carbonate and phosphates, to better understand environmental change and system processes on modern and geological timescales. She is involved in cross-disciplinary research programmes that bring together geochemists, physical and chemical oceanographers, and biologists, to elucidate the likely effects of ocean acidification on modern marine calcifiers.

Julie was also instrumental in assisting W/Professor Malcolm McCulloch to establish the new state-of-the-art Geochemistry and Mass Spectrometry Facility in the School of Earth and Environment at UWA. She was integral from the early planning phase through to its setup and operation, and jointly oversees staff and users of the facility.

Roles and responsibilities



Clean-room (CSIRO, ANU, UWA) work including ion exchange chromatography for isotope analyses (Sr, B, U-Th). Mass spectrometry from solution and in situ samples (trace elements, REE, U-Th, B, Sr, O) using multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS), laser ablation MC-ICPMS and Q-ICPMS, thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (PTIMS, NTIMS), and ion microprobe (SHRIMP II). Imaging and chemical analyses using electron microprobe and electron microscopy (SEM, TEM).


Modern systems & climate change – applying geochemical dating (U-Th) and environmental proxies (eg. boron isotope seawater pH proxy) to modern tropical, temperate, and cold water corals to assess the effects of anthropogenic driven ocean acidification and climate change.

Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoseawater studies –palaeoseawater compositions (strontium isotopes, rare earth elements, oxygen isotopes) derived from marine carbonates and apatites from Palaeozoic to Tertiary marine sequences using TIMS, laser ablation MC-ICPMS, and ion microprobe analyses. Pioneering in situ oxygen isotope analysis of conodonts using ion microprobe (SHRIMP) for palaeoclimate reconstructions (Cambrian to Triassic).


Taxonomy and biostratigraphy of Palaeozoic (Devonian & Ordovician) marine faunas, especially conodonts, brachiopods, and corals.


Palaeozoic marine outcrops around the world: Australia, Russia, Morocco, Italy, NW Pakistan, Argentina.

Reef ecology transects and coral coring (SCUBA) of modern reef systems: Great Barrier Reef (Qld), Rowley Shoals (WA), Ningaloo Reef (WA).

Ocean cruise to collect cold-water corals from the Perth Canyon aboard R/V Falkor.


(1) Project Leader of a large-scale Sr isotope research programme at CSIRO for ~10 years with industry clients. The programme encompassed the application of Sr isotope stratigraphy to Tertiary marine carbonate sequences in PNG and Southeast Asia. A pilot programme (1993) tested the feasibility and robustness of the technique in rugged and heavily karsted terrains where conventional seismic techniques were ineffective. Its success is reflected by the now routine application by industry throughout the Asia-Pacific region and remains an ongoing venture within CSIRO and its industry partners. Project management encompassed liaising with senior industry personnel from the petroleum sector (Chevron, Esso, BP, MIM/Santos, Oil Search, Interoil, Shell, Conoco-Phillips, Coparex, Lemigas), managing and co-ordinating staff including external contractors, many large and concurrent subprojects with substantial budgets (>$500k), and generation of large datasets (>10,000 Sr isotope analyses) combined with petrographic analysis and interpretation of basin architecture that produced 66 confidential company reports (now on open file) between 1993 and 2006.

(2) Lead CI on ARC Discovery Project (2010-2013) Global Climate Change, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and the Evolution of Life in the Palaeozoic and Early Mesozoic. Led, designed, and managed all aspects of the project from securing samples, SHRIMP δ18O analyses, database setup, and interpretation and publication of results.

(3) ARC Future Fellow (2017-2021) Deep‐sea coral ocean‐climate records of the last glacial and recent eras. Designed and implements the project with national and international collaborators.

(4) Oversight of the newly constructed multi-million dollar state-of-the-art geochemistry and mass spectrometry facility at UWA (~$5M). Instruments funded by large equipment LIEF grant ~$2M. Played the key role in designing the laboratories and shouldered the routine/daily liaison with all builders, contractors, and university personnel during its design, construction, and fit-out of the facility. Post-build setup responsibilities included staff recruitment, staff training and supervision, and establishment of laboratory protocols for all laboratories, in compliance with Australian and UWA standards and policies, and OH&S requirements, as well as oversight/implementation of technical methods.


The position of Executive Officer to the Energy Group Executive plays a key support role in the management and administration of CSIRO’s energy portfolio, which encompasses four business units: the Divisions of Petroleum Resources, Energy Technology, and two National Research Flagships, Energy Transformed and Wealth from Oceans. Responsibilities whilst in this role included undertaking senior management meetings; preparation of briefs (written and slide presentations) delivered within CSIRO and to external stakeholders (senior industry personnel, government departments, ministers); parliamentary briefings for Senate Estimates Committee hearings and responses to confidential Ministerial Cabinet documents; recruitment of senior management and promotion processes within CSIRO.

Funding overview

Schmidt Ocean Institute Research Proposal (2018). Dr Julie Trotter, Dr Paolo Montagna, Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Prof Charitha Pattiaratchi, Dr Aleksey Sadekov, Dr Marco Taviani, Dr Jane Fromont. ROV Exploration of Deep Water Coral Habitats of Southwest Australian Submarine Canyons. SOI provides their fully equipped Ocean Research Vessel R/V Falkor & resources including a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). Approx. value $3,850,000 (AUD)

UWA Fellowship Support Scheme (2018). Dr Julie Trotter. Constraining ventilation ages, hydrodynamics, & CO2 flux in the ocean interior through time. $30,000

ARC Future Fellowship FT160100259 (2016). Dr J Trotter. Deep‐sea coral ocean‐climate records of the last glacial and recent eras. $776,000

AINSE Research Award (2016). Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Dr Julie Trotter, Dr Jim Falter, Dr Ron Thresher, Dr Marco Taviani, Dr Paolo Montagna. Tracing the Penetration of 14C Into the Deep Waters of the Perth Canyon. $14,000

Schmidt Ocean Institute (2013). Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Dr Ron Thresher, Prof Carlos Duarte, Prof Charitha Pattiaratchi, Ass/Prof Jim Falter, Ass/Prof Julie Trotter, Dr Paolo Montagna, Dr Jane Fromont, Prof Susana Agusti-Requena. ROV exploration the Perth Canyon and assessing the vulnerability of deep-sea corals to climate change and ocean acidification. SOI provides their fully equipped Ocean Research Vessel R/V Falkor & resources including a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). Approx. value $1,000,000

CSIRO Flagship Collaboration Fund (2010). Prof M McCulloch, Asst Prof J Falter, Assoc Prof R Lowe, Asst Prof J Trotter. Project Title: Ocean acidification and environmental change across a widening tropical-subtropical gradient. $200,000

ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Project LE100100203 (2010). Prof M McCulloch, Prof P Cawood, Prof M Lynch, Prof R Wasson, Prof P Lavery, A/Prof A Waite, Ass/Prof R Lowe, Dr M Kilburn, Dr J Trotter, A/Prof Clode, Dr J Falter, Prof N McNaughton, Dr K-H Wyroll, A/Prof L Collins. Project Title: Advanced Geochemical Facility for Climate and Environmental Change Research: a west Australian−Indian Ocean focus. $700,000

ARC Discovery Project DP1096252 (2010). Dr JA Trotter; Dr IS Williams, Em/Prof CR Barnes, Prof DJ Beerling, Dr CH Wellman, Project Title: Global Climate Change, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and the Evolution of Life in the Palaeozoic and Early Mesozoic. $355,000

ARC Discovery Project DP0986505 (2009). Prof MT McCulloch, Dr JA Trotter, Prof RB Dunbar
Project Title: Ocean acidification in a Rapidly Increasing CO2 World. $670,000

ARC Linkage Project LP0883812 (2008). Prof PA Cawood, Prof K Grice, Mr R Hocking, Prof JL Kirschvink, Dr P Montgomery, Dr PE Playford, Mr T Playton, Mr N Thompson, Dr JA Trotter, Prof P Ward. Project Title: Chronostratigraphic Framework for the Devonian Canning Basin – A Multidisciplinary Record of Environmental Change. $580,000

Previous positions

Past 20 years:

2017 – 2021    ARC Future Fellow, School of Earth Sciences & Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia. Level D, Principal Research Fellow

2015 – 2017 Senior Research Fellow, School of Earth and Environ., Univ. of Western Australia

2013 – 2014 Ass/Professor School of Earth and Environment, Univ. of Western Australia

2010 – 2012 ARC Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Earth and Environ., Univ. of Western Australia

2009 (July+) Ass/Professor School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia

2008 – 2009 Research Fellow, Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University.

2007 – 2008 Executive Officer, CSIRO Energy Group.

2005 – 2007 CSIRO Division of Petroleum Resources.

1994 – 2001 Project Leader, CSIRO Division of Petroleum Resources, North Ryde, NSW, Australia.

Current projects

Palaeozoic and Early Mesozoic Climate Change

Various projects are underway to develop a robust record of sea surface temperatures from the Late Cambrian to Triassic (~500 to 200 Ma). This research utilises novel, high resolution, microanalytical thermometry of conodont apaitite using an ion microprobe (SHRIMP). This ~300 Myr period is marked by the greatest evolutionary developments and most severe extinctions in Earth History, so these new palaeoclimate records are crucial to better understand the evolution of our biosphere. The data are interpreted in the context of pCO2 records, major bioevents, and geological processes to better understand their relationships, and constrain the physiological controls, feedbacks, key thresholds, and rates of change within these systems.

Ocean acidification and Climate Change

Projects are underway with local and international colleagues, which are utilising the boron isotope seawater pH proxy in tropical, temperate, and cold water corals, to understand the likely effects of ocean acidification on these different coral groups that calcify in vastly different environments. This work is undertaken hand-in-hand with coral calcification studies, measurements of ambient seawater conditions (seawater chemistry, temperature, nutrients), and local hydrodynamics, to better understand the relationship between boron isotope systematics and the calcification process. Research sites are focused along the extensive latitudinal gradient offshore WA, the GBR, and various ocean basins including the central Pacific, northeast Atlantic, Southern Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, as well as shallow coastal fjord systems.


My research projects encompass the application of isotope and trace element geochemistry of marine carbonates (modern and subfossil) and fossil bio-apatites to reconstruct modern and paleaeoseawater chemistry, and related problems in Earth Systems science. This includes:
• understanding both modern and ancient seawater compositional change (eg. temperature, Sr flux, pCO2, pH) in the context of global climate change and major geological processes,
• fossil marine bio-apatites as geochemical archives of oxygen and strontium isotope compositions to track climate change and geological processes through time,
• new geochemical proxies (eg. boron isotope seawater pH proxy, trace elements) from coldwater, temperate, and tropical corals to understand environmental change over the pre- and post-industrial era in particular,
• Sr isotopes in marine carbonates and apatites to reconstruct basin architecture,
This research is typically dependent on high resolution analyses utilizing sensitive, state-of-the-art instrumentation, including in-situ laser ablation and ion microprobe techniques (eg. LA-MC-ICPMS and SHRIMP).

Research expertise keywords

  • Paleontology
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Environmental geochemistry
  • Isotope geology

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Research Output

  • 2382 Citations
  • 22 h-Index
  • 44 Article
  • 1 Chapter
  • 7 Citations (Scopus)

    Boron isotope composition of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa along the Norwegian margin: Zooming into a potential pH-proxy by combining bulk and high-resolution approaches

    Jurikova, H., Liebetrau, V., Raddatz, J., Fietzke, J., Trotter, J., Rocholl, A., Krause, S., McCulloch, M., Rüggeberg, A. & Eisenhauer, A., 20 May 2019, In : Chemical Geology. 513, p. 143-152

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 3 Citations (Scopus)

    Comparative Lower-Middle Ordovician conodont oxygen isotope palaeothermometry of the Argentine Precordillera and Laurentian margins

    Albanesi, G. L., Barnes, C. R., Trotter, J. A., Williams, I. S. & Bergström, S. M., 15 Mar 2019, In : Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 2 Citations (Scopus)

    Coral Li/Mg thermometry: Caveats and constraints

    Cuny-Guirriec, K., Douville, E., Reynaud, S., Allemand, D., Bordier, L., Canesi, M., Mazzoli, C., Taviani, M., Canese, S., McCulloch, M., Trotter, J., Rico-Esenaro, S. D., Sanchez-Cabeza, J. A., Ruiz-Fernández, A. C., Carricart-Ganivet, J. P., Scott, P. M., Sadekov, A. & Montagna, P., 30 Sep 2019, In : Chemical Geology. 523, p. 162-178 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 5 Citations (Scopus)

    Dynamic interplay between climate and marine biodiversity upheavals during the early Triassic Smithian -Spathian biotic crisis

    Goudemand, N., Romano, C., Leu, M., Bucher, H., Trotter, J. A. & Williams, I. S., 17 Jan 2019, In : Earth-Science Reviews. 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 10 Citations (Scopus)