iMAGE-CREATE students are participating in research that addresses key questions about the origin of the Earth’s crust and its contained mineral resources. A pressing challenge that industry is facing is where to look for new resources at depth. Students in the iMAGE program are exploring clues from large-scale geophysical surveys on land and in the oceans, and from modeling of active tectonics in a range of different geological settings. The research is examining different aspects of: 1) the birth of continents, with an emphasis on ocean-ocean and ocean-continent subduction, for example, in the Western Pacific and Mediterranean; 2) continental breakup and ore formation at passive margins, for example in the Atlantic; and 3) the evolution of oceanic crust through time in the Indian oceans. We are also closely studying future energy and mineral resources in the near offshore. Globally an area comparable to one-third of the continents is submerged beneath the shelf and slope; given these vast areas are geological extensions of the continents, resources similar to those on land may be expected in the offshore continental basement.
“Unlocking the Earth’s deep and unconventional resources has the potential to dramatically increase raw material and energy supply and secure a reliable, economically efficient, and environmentally friendly resource mix for the future.”
Hannington MD, Petersen S, Krätschell A (2017) Subsea mining moves closer to the shore: Nature Geoscience 10, 158-159.
Sea-going expeditions led by GEOMAR, FAU, BGR, and other international partners are providing exceptional opportunities for students to develop projects and access data for crustal-imaging experiments and for regional mapping programs. Projects in Canada include the opening of the Arctic North Atlantic between Baffin and Greenland, the dynamics of the Cascadia Margin and Queen Charlotte Fault, and ongoing research in the West Coast MPA (Explorer and Endeavour Ridges). The research is aimed at plate-boundary processes, including aspects of magmatism, melt and fluid pathways, deformation, uplift and sedimentation in a wide range of settings such as marginal basins of the Western Pacific, large igneous provinces, intracontinental basins of North-Central Europe and the Paleozoic margin of Laurentia, foreland basins of the Andes and Alps and young rift systems in Europe, East Africa and the Middle East.