Hunting underwater ancient volcanoes to understand plate-plume interactions in the Coral and Tasman seas

Massive volcanic eruptions are a fundamental part of the Earth System, responsible for globally disruptive events, from significant impacts on humans, to kickstarting the break-up of continents, generating wealth-producing ore deposits and triggering global climate crises and mass extinctions. This project will reveal relationships between hot, deep sources of volcanic material, and the tectonic processes at the Earth’s surface, using the Coral and Tasman seas as a natural laboratory. As part of this project, we have leveraged >$4.6 million in competitive shiptime funding on Australia’s world-class Marine National Facility, which has enabled the collection of a wealth of new data and samples from underwater volcanoes in this area.

The expected outcomes of this project will be an unprecedented >70 million year record of the inter-relationships between mantle plumes, the volcanic products they create, and surface plate motions offshore Eastern Australia, and the development of innovative geodynamic models of how the deep Earth interacts with the surface to form these volcanic products. This will provide significant benefits by advancing our understanding of the deep Earth, and its impact on Earth’s surface, natural hazards, and mineral systems.

This project is funded through an ARC Discovery Grant and includes collaborators from the University of Tasmania, Oregon State University and the Ecole Normale Supérieure.

Contact: A/Prof Maria Seton;,

School of Geosciences, Madsen Building F09,

University of Sydney NSW 2006