Exploring lost microcontinents in the Southern Ocean

Supervisory Team:

Primary supervisor: Jacqueline Halpin

Co-supervisor: Jo Whittaker

Additional supervisors: Nathan Daczko (Macquarie University)

Brief project description:

During the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana some ~120-95 million years ago, a massive outpouring of magma formed the then contiguous Kerguelen Plateau-Broken Ridge system. Embedded in this oceanic plateau complex was continental crust of unknown age and composition that slowly sank beneath the water hidden from view.

About 45 million years ago seafloor spreading along the Southeast Indian Ridge separated the enormous composite plateau into the Kerguelen Plateau and Broken Ridge, which are almost entirely submarine features that today remain poorly explored.

A recent research cruise aboard the R/V Investigator (IN2020_V01) sampled continental rocks from the William’s Ridge (central Kerguelen Plateau) for the first time. In this project, you will analyse key continental rock samples to determine their composition, age, evolution and affinity. You will integrate these new datasets with other geological and geophysical data to test hypotheses relating to the tectonic evolution of Gondwana and the formation of microcontinents.

Applicants should have a geoscience background, and preferably have completed 300-level geology subjects (including petrography).

Skills students will develop during this research project:

Petrography, geochronology, geochemistry, plate reconstructions, GIS

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
February 25, 2021