My research is focused on the structure and dynamics of plate margins, both ancient and modern. My work on ancient collisional plate margins (orogens) has been linked with the Canadian LITHOPROBE program, while my research on modern orogens in the Alpine/Mediterranean region is carried out with various collaborators. I also study the Mesozoic rifted margin, and associated sedimentary basins, of Newfoundland, and its European conjugates, which make a natural laboratory for studying the processes of continental break-up and the initiation of seafloor spreading.
The overall objective is to enhance understanding of how continental crust is created, altered in orogenesis, and then broken to form rifted margins, through seismological imaging of upper lithosphere structure, integrated with other information.
In a long-standing collaboration with colleagues at the Institute of Marine Science and Technology, Dokuz Eylül University in Izmir, Turkey, Ali Aksu and I have collected around 20,000 km of multi-channel seismic reflection profiles across the Cyprus arc that links the classic Hellenic arc with the East Anatolian transform fault. The Cyprus arc consists of a series of parallel ridges and intervening fore-arc basins that display differing responses along-strike from west to east as they become oblique to the plate convergence vector. We are also integrating our data with 10,000 km of other seismic data in the area. Late in 2005, we published a special issue of Marine Geology, including 12 papers summarising our interpretations. Papers on the Rhodes Basin and Anaximander Mountains (high-relief structures at the corner between Cyprus and Hellenic arcs) were published in 2009. A host of recent theses are being written up now for publication over the next couple of years.
In a new collaboration with Christian Hübscher of the University of Hamburg, Keith Louden of Dalhousie University and I carried out a wide-angle reflection/refraction survey south of Cyprus an the German research ship Maria S. Merian, in 2010. The objective is to define the upper crustal structure defining the boundary between the Cyprus lithosphere on the upper plate and the microcontinental blocks on the northern edge of the African (lower) plate. Kim Welford is also working on this as a postdoctoral research associate.
The North Atlantic rifted margins
My recent contributions, with postdoctoral research associate, Sharon Deemer, to the crustal structure of the continental margins and sedimentary basins around Newfoundland started with the SCREECH profiles across the SE Newfoundland margin in a collaboration with Louden (Dalhousie), GSC, Tucholke (Woods Hole), Holbrook (Wyoming), Larsen and Hopper (both formerly Danish Lithosphere Centre). These surveys provided the siting for ODP drilling in 2003, in which serpentinised sub-continental mantle was found, in unexpected symmetry with that found on the Iberian conjugate margin..
Building on this work, we have completed several studies of marginal basins around Flemish Cap. Also, led by postdoctoral research associate, Kim Welford, we have inverted the regional gravity field for crustal structure, giving us new regional pictures of crustal thickness and extension factors associated with the basins.
Our work is now extending to the Orphan Basin, as part of the North Atlantic Plate Reconstruction Project, initiated by colleagues in Ireland, with the intent of a plate reconstruction using deformable plate models to better recreate the Mesozoic geology of the margins of the North Atlantic. It is expected that the new model will lead to a better estimate of hydrocarbon fairways across the margins. Postdoctoral fellow, Mohamed Gouiza is working on the Orphan Basin project.
In most of these projects, graduate students gain field experience and, in the lab, they add signal processing and geological interpretation skills, ideal for a career in the basin exploration industry.