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Southern Cross GeoScience

Dr Jeffrey Parr

Jeff Parr

BA (UNE), B.App.Sc. Hons 1 (SCU), PhD (SCU)

PhD Thesis: A study of Palaeo-Landscapes in the Numundo region of West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, as indicated by Fossil Phytoliths


Research interests/background

Jeff is a Senior Research Fellow at Southern Cross GeoScience, an Adjunct Professor at the Fujian Academy of Forestry Science, Fuzhou, China, and an Honorary Research Fellow of Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University, China.

The relationship between phytoliths (plantstones) and carbon sequestration: Jeffs ARC Discovery Project DP0773868 Enhancing long-term soil organic carbon sequestration involved the screening of economically important plant species for their occluded carbon content. Plant silica bodies' known as plantstones, phytoliths or plant opal are formed in and around the cell wall of many plant species replicating the cell wall shape and encapsulating the inner organic carbon content. These silica bodies are deposited into the soil when a plant dies and are highly resistant to decomposition.

Plant silica interactions: Planstones play an important role in encapsulating carbon and are linked to regulatory processes of plant transpiration rates, drought tolerance and other disease and pest resist qualities in plants.

Climate change, vegetation history, forensic analysis and archaeology particularly in relation to phytolith and starch grain analysis: Phytoliths are highly resistant to decomposition making them very useful diagnostic tools for radiocarbon dating, forensic investigations, palaeoenvironmental research including palaeo-diets and vegetation histories.

Research grants

  • 2011 - $7,800 AINSE Grant No 6580 CI Title: Geochemical analysis of stone tools of the Far North Coast, NSW
  • 2011 - $190,000 SRDC Grant Co Ci Title: Development of value-added products from sugar cane boiler ash.
  • 2009 ¨C $950,000. Co. CI ARC LIEF ID: LE0989067 instrumentation for chronology and environmental reconstruction.
  • 2007 ¨C $255,000. Sole CI ARC Project ID: DP0773868 Enhancing long-term soil organic carbon sequestration.
  • 2006 - $5585 CI. AINSE AINGRA2510. Characterisation of zeolites.
  • 2004 - $12,690 CI. AINSE AINGRA04119. Radiocarbon dating of sediments.
  • 2004 - $8,000 CI. AINSE AINGRA04208. Characterisation of silica in phytoliths for high end use (fibre optics).
  • 2003 - $2000 CI IRG SCU.
  • 2000 - $54,000 Australian Postgraduate Award
  • 2000 - $22,500 AINSE Postgraduate Award Stipend
  • 2000 - $16,500 AINSE Postgraduate Grant PGR 8/01
  • 2000 - $2000 Southern Cross University, Postgraduate Grant


Journal articles


Hembrow, S.C., Taffs, K.H., Atahan, P., Parr, J., Zawadzki, A. and Heijnis, H., 2014. Diatom community response to climate variability over the past 37,000 years in the sub-tropics of the Southern Hemisphere. Science of the Total Environment, 468-469: 774-784. (2012 ERAID 3551 - FOR MD)

Kanthilatha N., Boyd W., Dowell A., Mann A., Chang N., Wohlmuth H., Parr J.(2014) Identification of preserved fatty acids in archaeological floor sediments from prehistoric sites at Ban Non Wat and Nong Hua Raet in northeast Thailand using gas chromatography. Journal of Archaeological Science. 46 (1) 353-362 (2012 ERAID 1739 - FOR 0402)

Joannes-Boyau R., Guibert P., Chapoullie R., Lahaye C., Scheffers A., Parr J. (2014) Re-assessment of organic radicals and paramagnetic centres in Bergeracois brown cherts, implication for absolute dating. Quaternary Geochronology 23, 26-34. (2012 ERAID 34378 - FOR 0402 or 0406)

Parr J.F., Sullivan L.A. (2014) Comparison of two methods for the isolation of Phytolith Occluded Carbon from Plant Material. Plant and Soil, 374(1-2): 45-53.(2012 ERAID 2642 - FOR 05)


Joannes-Boyau R., Guibert P., Chapoulie R., Lahaye C., Scheffers A., Parr J., Moffat I. (in press) Thermal behaviour of organic radicals and paramagnetic centres in chert: implications for luminescence dating. A case study of Bergeracois brown chert from Cantalouette II, Dordogne, France. Quaternary Geochronology. Corrected Proof, Accepted Manuscript (2012 ERAID 34378 - FOR 0402 or 0406)

Li, Z., Song, Z., Parr, J.F. and Wang, H., 2013. Occluded C in rice phytoliths: implications to biogeochemical carbon sequestration. Plant and Soil, 370(1-2): 615-623.

Song, S. and Parr, J.F., 2013. Potential of global cropland phytolith carbon sink from optimization of cropping system and fertilization. Plos One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073747.

Sullivan L.A., Parr J.F. (2013) Commentary on "Possible source of ancient carbon in phytolith concentrates from harvested grasses" by G. M. Santos, et al. (2012). Biogeosciences, 10, 977-980. (2012 ERAID 35114 - FOR 04)

Yates A., Smith A., Parr J., Scheffers A., Joannes-Boyau R. (in press) AMS Dating of ancient plant residues from experimental stone tools - a pilot study. Journal of Archaeological Science. Accepted Manuscript. (2012 ERAID 1739 - FOR 0402)


Yan Y., Jiang W., Parr J.F. (2012) Preparation and properties of TiO2/fumed silica composite photocatalytic materials. Procedia Engineering, 27: 448-456. (2012 ERAID 124648 - FOR MD)


Parr, J.F., Sullivan, L.A. (2011). Phytolith Occluded Carbon and Silica Variability in Wheat Cultivars. Plant and Soil, 342, 165-171.(ERA ranking A)

Watling, K.M., Parr, J.F., Rintoul, L., Brown, C.L. and Sullivan, L.A., 2011. Raman, infrared and XPS study of bamboo phytoliths after chemical digestion. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, 80: 106-111.


Parr J.F., Sullivan L.A., Chen B., Ye G., Zheng W. (2010). Carbon biosequestration within the Phytoliths of economic bamboo species. Global Change Biol, 16(10): 2661-2667. (ERA ranking A*)

Taffs K., Logan B., Parr J.F., Jacobsen G.E. (2010) The evolution of a coastal peatland at Byron Bay, Australia: Multi-proxy evidence from the microfossil record. Terra Australis 32: 429-432. (ERA ranking C)


Parr, J.F., Boyd, W.E., Harriott, V., Torrence, R., 2009. Human Adaptive Responses to Catastrophic Landscape Disruptions During the Holocene at Numundo, PNG. Geographical Research, 47(2):155¨C174.

Parr, J.F., Sullivan, L.A. and Quirk, R., 2009. Sugarcane Phytoliths: Encapsulation of a Long-Lived Carbon Fraction. Sugar Tech, Springer, 11(1): 17-21.

Denham, T., Atchison, J., Austin, J., Bestel, S., Bowdery, D., Crowther, A., Dolby, N., Fairbairn, A., Field, J., Kennedy, A., Lentfer, C., Matherson, C., Nugent, S., Parr, J., Prebble, M., Robertson, G., Specht, J., Torrence, R., Barton, H., Fullagar, R., Haberle, S., Horrocks, M., Lewis, T., Mathews, P. In Press Archaeobotany in Australia and New Guinea: Practice, Potential and Prospects, 2009. Australian Archaeology, 68:1-10.


Sullivan, L.A. and Parr, J.F., 2007. Green¡¯ geosequestration: Secure carbon sequestration via plant silica biomineralisation. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71(15): A985-A985.


Krull, E. S., Bestland, E. A., Skjemstad, J. O., Parr, J. F. and Mee, A. C., 2006. Organic geochemistry (¦Ä13C, ¦Ä15N, 13C-NMR) and age determinations (14C and OSL) of Red-Brown Earths from the Coonawarra-Padthaway region of South Australia: Implications for soil genesis. Geoderma. 132: 344-360

Parr, J.F., 2006. Effect of Fire on Phytolith Coloration. Geoarchaeology, 21(2): 171-185.

Taffs, K.H., Parr, J.F. and Bolton, K. (2006). Using Palaeobotanical techniques to guide peatland restoration. A case study from Byron Bay, Australia. Ecological Management and Restoration, 7(2): 132-135.


Boyd, W.E., Lentfer, C.J. and Parr, J.F., 2005. Interactions between human activity, volcanic eruptions and vegetation during the Holocene at Garua and Numundo, West New Britain, PNG. Quarternary Research, 64: 384-398.

Parr, J. F. and Sullivan, L. A. (2005). ¡°Soil carbon sequestration in Phytoliths.¡± Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 37(1): 117-124.


Parr, J. F. (2004). "Morphometric and visual fossil phytolith identification using a regionally specific digital database." Phytolitharian 16(2): 2-10.

Parr, J. F., Taffs, K. H. and Lane, C. M. (2004). ¡°A microwave digestion technique for the extraction of fossil diatoms from coastal lake and swamp sediments.¡± Paleolimnology 31: 383-390.

Torrence, R., Neall, V. E., Doelman, T., Rhodes, E., McKee, C., Davies, H., Bonetti, R., Gugliemetti, A., Manzoni, A., Oddone, M., Parr, J. and Wallace, C. (2004). Pleistocene colonisation of the Bismarck Archipelago: new evidence from West New Britain."Archaeology in Oceania 39(3): 101-130.

Conference proceedings

Parr, J.F., Sullivan, L.A. and Quirk, R., 2008. Encapsulation of a Long-Lived Carbon Fraction in Phytoliths. In: Y.-R. Li, M.I. Nasr, S. Solomon and G.P. Rao (Editors), Proceedings of the International Conference IS-2008. Engineering House Press Co. Egypt, Egypt.

Parr, J.F., Sullivan, L.A. and Quirk, R., In Press. Sugarcane Phytoliths: Encapsulation of a Long-Lived Carbon Fraction. Sugar Tech, Springer. (Accepted 20/1/2009 due for publication in 3/2009).

Book chapters


Parr, J.F., Kerr, G., Arthur, J. and Taffs, K.H., 2008. Impact of Fire on Peatlands in Northeastern NSW Australia: Implications for the Interpretation of Microfossil Assemblages and Fire Histories. In: M.A. Korstanje and P. Babot (Editors), Matices Interdisciplinarios en Estudios Fitol¨ªticos y de Otros Microf¨®siles. BAR International Series S1870, Cap¨ªtulo 5, pp. 47-53.


Parr, J.F. and Watson, L., 2007. Morphological characteristics observed in the leaf phytoliths of select Gymnosperms of Eastern Australia. In: M. Madella and D. Zurro (Editors), Plant, People and Places - Recent Studies in Phytolith Analysis. Oxbow, Oxford.

Boyd, W.E., and Parr, J.F., 2007. Geochemical Analysis of Fragments of Burnt and Impressed Cay. In: Higham, C.F.W., Kijngam, A., Talbot, S. (Eds.), The Origins of The Civilization of Ankor,The Excavation of Noen U-Loke and Non Muang Kao. Oxbow Books, London. Vol 2, pp.465-475.


Parr, J.F., (2006). Microwave extraction of starch. In: R. Torrence and H. Barton (Editors), Ancient Starch Research. Left Coast Press, Inc., California.

Parr, J.F., (2006). Starch in resins. In: R. Torrence and H. Barton (Editors), Ancient Starch Research. Left Coast Press, Inc., California.



Sullivan L.A., Ward N.J., Parr J.F., Bush R.T., Fyfe D.M., Bush M., Hagan R., Rosicky M.A. (2012) Lower Lakes Phase carbon project. Prepared for South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Southern Cross GeoScience Technical Report No. 212, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW. 92 pp.


Parr, J.F. and Sullivan, L.A., 2007. Deposition of plant silica, a long-lived soil fraction containing easily quantifiable carbon, International Symposium on Organic Matter Dynamics in Agro-Ecosystems, Poitiers, France.

Sullivan, L.A., and Parr, J.F., 2007. Management of silica biomineralisation in crops to enhance soil carbon sequestration in agro-ecosystems. International Symposium on Organic Matter Dynamics in Agro-Ecosystems, Poitiers, France.

Sullivan, L.A. and Parr, J.F., 2007. Green¡¯ geosequestration: Secure carbon sequestration via plant silica biomineralisation. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71(15): A985-A985.


Sullivan, L.A. and Parr, J.F., 2006. Phytolith-Occluded Carbon and the Long-Term Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration Potential, National Soils Conference, Adelaide.


Parr, J.F., 2005. Carbon Sequestration in Plantstones. In: C. Jones (Editor), Managing the Carbon Cycle: Conference, Armidale.

Sullivan, L.A. and Parr, J.F. 2005. The potential of soil to Securely Sequestrate carbon: expanding the horizon. In: C. Jones (Editor), Managing the Carbon Cycle: Conference, Armidale.


Boyd, W.E., Lentfer, C.J., Parr, J.F. and Jago, L.C.F., 2004. Holocene vegetation dynamics in West New Britain, PNG, International Palynological Conference, Granada.