Peter Barrett

Emeritus Professor
Antarctic Research Centre


BSc NZ (1961); MSc Auckland (1963); PhD Ohio State (1968); FRSNZ 1993


Stratigraphy, sedimentology, paleoenvironments, Beacon sandstone of East Antarctica, Sirius deposits in the Transantarctic Mountains, history and future of the Antarctic ice sheet, integration of geological records; especially from drilling on the Antarctic margin, modelling for investigating environmental change, and effective social responses to climate change issues.

Roles and responsibilities


  • Convener, ANDRILL Science Advisory Panel; - Work with SCAR Antarctic Climate Evolution group

Antarctic Research Centre

  • Joint Antarctic Research Institute (VUW, GNS Science, NIWA)
  • ARC alumni relations and related activities

Climate Change Research Institute

  • Facilitate climate change research, teaching and outreach within and beyond VUW

Recent research projects

  • Feature documentary on climate change involving VUW, University of Oxford and Dox Productions
  • Glacial history of the Transantarctic Mountains
  • Last few million years history of McMurdo Sound and the Ross Ice Shelf through ANDRILL, which has now cored over 2200 m of strata covering the last 13 million years (McMurdo Ice Shelf 2006) and the period from 10-22 million years (Southern McMurdo Sound 2007), showing a remarkable record of frequent cyclic changes in Antarctic ice extent.
  • Early history of the Antarctic ice sheet through the Cape Roberts Project, which cored 1500 m of strata off the Antarctic coast for a record of tectonic and climate history from 17 to 34 million years ago.

Other research interests

Particle size and shape, and the use of these properties in understanding modern and ancient depositional systems. Past studies have included alluvial and glacial sedimentary systems and quantifying the relationship between wave climate, grain size and water depth on wave-dominated coasts.


View a list of publications from Peter Barrett.