Response of humans to abrupt environmental transitions

The Natural History Museum is part of a large UK consortium investigating how our ancestors may have responded to rapid environmental changes in the recent past.

The Response of Humans to Abrupt Environmental Transitions (RESET) project is using microtephra (microscopic volcanic dust) to correlate European and circum-Mediterranean geological, environmental and archaeological events over the last 100,000 years. 

This novel approach allows a much greater precision than has been possible with other dating methods.

The 5-year project began in 2008, funded by NERC.

The project will help answer questions about:

  • the dispersal of modern humans in North Africa and Europe
  • the extinction of the Neanderthals
  • the recolonisation of northwest Europe after the Last Glacial maximum

Consortium members:

  • Natural History Museum
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • University of Oxford
  • National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

View the full RESET team on the project website

Project staff