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NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory

The Bogda Mountains in China. Image courtesy of USGS National Center for EROS and NASA Landsat Project Science Office

Crustal evolution

The NIGL Chronology facility supports NERC research aimed at understanding the geodynamics of the solid earth, at a range of scales from individual minerals to intrusions to whole supercontinents, and from the mantle to the upper crust and its sedimentary cover. The formation of crust in a range of settings is studied, particularly with the combination of U-Th-Pb geochronology and radiogenic isotopic 'tracers' such as Sr, Nd and Hf. The latter can be studied in-situ, for example in zircon grains that have also been dated by U-Pb, or by whole-rock methods after dissolution and column chemistry. Recently, a considerable amount of work has focussed on understanding tectonic and crustal processes within the African continent, including formation of initial cratonic material in the Archaean and Palaeoproterozoic, and also the styles of reworking during the pan-African orogenic event and within post-collisional magmatism.

Some current projects

  • Matachewan Large Igneous Province — implications for supercontinent reconstruction, petrogenesis and Ni-Cu-PGE mineralisation (NIGFSC)
  • Louisville Seamount Trail — temporal/spatial variations in magma and source composition (NIGFSC)
  • The origin and evolution of ore fluids related to Cu-Au and Pb-Zn (Au-Ag) mineralisation in north east Greece (NIGFSC)

Recent papers

Bauer, Wilfried; Walsh, Gregory J.; De Waele, Bert; Thomas, Robert J.; Horstwood, Matthew S.A.; Bracciali, Laura; Schofield, David I.; Wollenberg, Uwe; Lidke, David J.; Rasaona, Imboarina T.; Rabarimanana, Mamy H.. 2011 Cover sequences at the Northern Margin of the Antongil Craton, NE Madagascar. Precambrian Research, 189, 292-312.

De Waele, B.; Thomas, R.J.; Macey, P.H.; Horstwood, M.S.A.; Tucker, R.D.; Pitfield, P.E.J.; Schofield, D.I.; Goodenough, K.M.; Bauer, W.; Key, R.M.; Potter, C.J.; Armstrong, R.A.; Miller, J.; Randriamananjara, T.; Ralison, V.; Rafahatelo, J.M.; Bejoma, M.; Rabarimana, M.. 2011 Provenance and tectonic significance of the Palaeoproterozoic metasedimentary successions of central and northern Madagascar. Precambrian Research, 189, 18-42.

Thomas, R.J.; Jacobs, J.; Horstwood, M.S.A.; Ueda, K.; Bingen, B.; Matola, R.. 2010 The Mecubúri and Alto Benfica Groups, NE Mozambique : aids to unravelling ca.1 Ga and 0.5 Ga events in the East African Orogen. Precambrian Research, 178, 72-90.

Gagnevin, D.; Daly, J.S.; Horstwood, M.S.A.; Whitehouse, M.J.. 2011 In-situ zircon U–Pb, oxygen and hafnium isotopic evidence for magma mixing and mantle metasomatism in the Tuscan Magmatic Province, Italy. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 305, 45-56.

Hastie, Alan R., Mitchell, Simon F., Kerr, Andrew C., Minifie, Matthew J. and Millar, Ian L. (2011) Geochemistry of rare high-Nb basalt lavas: are they derived from a mantle wedge metasomatised by slab melts? Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 5049-5072.

Viccaro, Marco; Nicotra, Eugenio; Millar, Ian L.; Cristofolini, Renato. 2011 The magma source at Mount Etna volcano : perspectives from the Hf isotope composition of historic and recent lavas. Chemical Geology, 281, 343-351.

Continental tectonics and Earth surface processes

This component of the NIGL Chronology facility is focussed on continental tectonics, exhumation and erosion; with research being aimed at understanding convergent plate margins and mass transfer processes within the continental crust. Within the context of the Earth System there is increasing interest in examining the interaction between the solid earth and the climate system and the study of the Himalaya-Tibet orogen, its elevation and erosional history are central to evaluating its quantitative influence on changes to global climate in the Cenozoic. This theme occupies a considerable part of NIGL's chronology programme. Quantifying erosion rates requires thermochronological dating of minerals with different closure temperatures in both bedrock samples and in their eroded products. This approach, especially erosional studies, require hundreds to thousands of analyses of mineral grains to reconstruct the rates of erosion, and NIGL's highly efficient system of LA-ICP-MS dating makes this tractable and capable of addressing such problems.

Some current projects

  • MPalaeodrainage of the River Nile - investigating rift tectonics and land-ocean-atmosphere interactions (NIGFSC)
  • Exhumation of the Lesser Himalya (NIGFSC)
  • River capture in the easternmost Himalaya (NERC)
  • Dust storms and Chinese Loess over the last 22 million years (NERC)

Recent papers

Smye, Andrew J.; Bickle, Mike J.; Holland, Tim J.B.; Parrish, Randall R.; Condon, Daniel J.. 2011. Rapid formation and exhumation of the youngest Alpine eclogites : a thermal conundrum to Barrovian metamorphism. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 306, 193-204.

Warren, C.J., Grujic, D., Cottle, J.M., Rogers, N.W., 2011. Constraining cooling histories: rutile and titanite chronology and diffusion modelling in NW Bhutan. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 30, 113-130.

Henderson, A.L., Najman, Y., Parrish, R., Mark, D.F., Foster, G.L., 2011. Constraints to the timing of India-Eurasia collision; a re-evaluation of evidence from the Indus Basin sedimentary rocks of the Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone, Ladakh, India. Earth Science Reviews 106, 265-292.

Bracciali, L., Parrish, R.R., Najman, Y., Carter, A., Horstwood, M.S.A., Wijbrans, J.R. 2011. A multi-technique thermo- and geochronological study of the palaeo-Brahmaputra deposits: testing crustal deformation and erodion-tectonic feedback models in the easternmost Himalaya. AGU fall meeting, San Francisco.

Kellett, D.A.; Grujic, D.; Warren, C.; Cottle, J.; Jamieson, R.; Tenzin, T., 2010. Metamorphic history of a syn-convergent orogen-parallel detachment : the South Tibetan detachment system, Bhuton Himalaya. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 28, 785-808.

Tibetan detachment in Bhutan: Alternating channel flow and critical taper mechanics of the eastern Himalaya. Tectonics 30, TC205, 10.1029/2010TC002784

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© NERC 2014. This site is hosted by the British Geological Survey but responsibility for the content of the site lies with NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL) not with the British Geological Survey. Questions, suggestions or comments regarding the contents of this site should be directed to Professor Randall R Parrish.