Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES)
Crustal Evolution Research Group
At Portsmouth our group is particularly focussed on the development of Plate Tectonics throughout Earth history. We are addressing fundamental questions with respect to the Earth system such as when did Plate Tectonics begin operating and what changes can be documented in the style and rate of plate movement and subduction through time. Most people are satisfied that some form of Plate Tectonics has been occurring since the Archaean, but how different was it to the modern observable record and when and how did we change from the ancient mode to the modern? Alongside that we are interested in documenting the rate of continental crustal growth and recycling through time and how any changes in tectonics have influenced the rates of crustal growth and preservation. These are fundamental challenges underpinning all we know about our dynamic planet and perhaps others. These processes, and their secular change, undoubtedly govern many other variables. Of great consideration are the origins of atmospheric oxygen and, therefore, the evolution of life on Earth together with its controls of Earth’s climate system. Related to this is the influence of tectonics on ocean circulation and weathering, particularly with its control on CO2 drawdown to the deep Oceans.
Our group comprises five full-time academics (Dr Craig Storey, Dr Rob Strachan, Dr Mike Fowler, Dr James Darling and Dr Dean Bullen) along with a full-time NERC-funded Senior Research Associate (Dr Emilie Bruand), a new Senior Research Associate starting March 2013, three PhD students (Ms Florentina Enea (recently completed), Ms Emma Hart and Ms Sarah Biejat) and one MRes student (Mr Lee White). Our research facilities include a laser ablation ICP-MS lab (New Wave UP213 Nd:YAG laser coupled to an Agilent 7500CS ICP-MS), an SEM equipped with EDS and CL, XRF (newly installed Rigaku XRS Primus 2), XRD, rock-crushing, full mineral separation and thin section lab, as well as research-grade microscopes. We are also developing collaborative research projects with Dr Phil Benson in the newly developed Rock Mechanics Lab.