iMAGE-CREATE members are exploring the relationship between geodynamics and georesources under three broad themes:
Birth of Continents:
The continents as we know them grew by a range of processes from early differentiation, to accretion and amalgamation in subduction zones, and crustal thickening due to magmatism and sedimentation. Much of today’s continental landmasses formed in ancient oceans in the distant geological past. Peaks in crustal growth during the emergence of the continents were strongly correlated with major episodes of mineral deposit formation and resource endowment, and research on these episodes provide important clues to our resource future.
The formation and preservation of the largest mineral and energy resources on Earth are directly linked to plate tectonics and, in turn, to large-scale geological events and even climate change. Seismicity is the best means for monitoring plate interactions as well as the structure and composition of the crust and upper mantle that directly influence resource formation. These can be studied in real time and also through the record of crustal deformation on the continents and in the oceans.
Resources for the Future:
The secure, sustainable, and safe supply of energy and mineral resources for a growing global population is a major challenge for the future. Deep geological resources will be needed to replace exhausted near-surface supply, and raw materials and energy will have to come from greater depths to reduce the environmental impacts of their exploitation. This requires new quantitative models of the structure, composition and potential of the deep crust.
Students in iMAGE-CREATE are using a number of different approaches to address these research challenges, including: crustal imaging using seismology (both passive and active sources) and electromagnetics, with a focus on the structure of subduction zones and continental margins; measurements of crustal growth and magmatic productivity from lithostratigraphic reconstructions, geochronology, and thermochronology; numerical modeling of mass and energy exchange, including melt and fluid fluxes from the mantle through the crust; and data science and machine learning to better classify the crust and model crustal interactions.