Dr Ian Watkinson, Royal Holloway University of London
Professor Alex Dickson, Royal Holloway University of London
Professor Richard Ghail, Royal Holloway University of London
The Earth’s crust is unique in our Solar System. The young (180 Ma), dense oceanic crust has low elevation compared to the less dense and significantly older (2-4 Ga) continental crust. Throughout its lifetime, continental crust becomes more heterogeneous, inheriting compositional, structural, thermal and mechanical properties from previous stages of the Wilson cycle in a process called tectonic inheritence. This heterogeneity has been shown to control the behaviour of continental crust during extensional rifting (e.g. Papua New Guinea) and has also been linked to the distribution of volcanic systems within continental regions (e.g. Australia). This project will use a multidisciplinary approach to assess the impact of crustal heterogeneity on the distribution of volcanic systems in a young continental collision zone in Armenia.
The Gegham Highlands, 1 of the 4 neovolcanic zones in Armenia, displays both rhyolitic centres and monogenetic basaltic cones. Using remote sensing, the student will undertake a detailed spatial analysis of the relationship between these volcanic systems and indicators of crustal heterogeneity such as structures and lithological changes. Using geochemical and textural analysis of the volcanic products the student will also gain insight into the evolution of the volcanic systems to better understand the possible relationships between the processes controlling magma supply and those controlling its distribution and storage in the crust. These 2 data sets will be combined to investigate the role that crustal heterogeneity plays in controlling the type and distribution of volcanism occurring in an area and to identify whether certain crustal conditions are preferential for long lived magma storage.
The student will be trained in
- Analytical techniques using remotely sensed data such as radar and multispectral
- Geochemical analysis of whole rock for major and trace elements and radiogenic isotope ratios.
- Quantitative textural analysis of the volcanic rocks in thin section and in situ element mapping of both minerals and glass.
We are looking for an enthusiastic applicant with a degree in Earth Sciences, Geography or something similar to undertake this exciting project. No previous analytical experience is required but we are looking for an applicant who is keen to learn these skills.