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Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Lead Supervisor: Fausto Ferraccioli, British Antarctic Survey

Co-Supervisor: Nicky White, Earth Sciences; Joerg Ebbing, University of Kiel, Kiel Marine Science & Javier Fullea, Geofísica y Meteorología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Brief summary: 
Novel project to reveal the lithosphere and deeper mantle beneath the Antarctic ice sheet
Importance of the area of research concerned: 
Antarctica is the least understood continent on Earth. Improving our knowledge of the structure and composition of the Antarctic lithosphere is important not only for geological research but also because the lithosphere can affect the dynamic behaviour of Antarctica’s vast ice sheets. In addition, we need to quantify the effects of dynamic topography related to deeper mantle processes in the quest to unravel the enigmatic origin and evolution of several key Antarctic topographic and tectonic features, such as the West Antarctic Rift System, the Transantarctic Mountains, the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, and the huge intra-cratonic basins of East Antarctica. This project will analyse for the first time the latest generation continental-scale gravity and magnetic anomaly compilations, together with satellite gravity gradient, satellite magnetic and seismological datasets in a combined and integrated fashion. With the aid of recent advances in 3D geophysical and petrological modelling approaches this project promises to shed fundamental new light into the crustal and lithospheric architecture of the Antarctic continent and provide key new insights into dynamic topography effects.
Project summary : 
This project aims to transform our current knowledge of the Antarctic continent, by producing novel combined potential field, seismological and petrological models of crustal and lithospheric architecture in relation to large scale tectonic and geodynamic processes and models of the space-time evolution of dynamic topography linked to mantle dynamics. By analysing and modelling the lithosphere, we expect new linkages between Antarctica and the global supercontinent cycles to also emerge. The project will help constrain lithospheric influences on the evolution of paleotopography, and will help quantify key geological boundary conditions -such as geothermal heat flux- that can influence Antarctic ice sheet dynamics. And finally we anticipate new views into mantle effects on bedrock topography.
What will the student do?: 
The student will work on the analyses and modelling of data from recent international Antarctic-wide geophysical data compilations. These include updates to the AntGG gravity and ADMAP magnetic data compilations. Satellite gravity gradient and satellite magnetic anomaly datasets will also be used in new lithospheric-scale modelling efforts. The potential field data interpretation will rely on the development of new 2D and 3D models of crustal and lithospheric architecture and composition that will be integrated for the first time with the latest independent seismological constraints available and with petrological and thermal modelling efforts. The student will also utilise seismological and mantle flow models and analyse subglacial topography to aid the development of new reconstruction efforts of dynamic topography effects.
References - references should provide further reading about the project: 
Ferraccioli, F., Finn, C.A., Jordan, T.A., Bell, R.E., Anderson, L.M., Damaske, D. 2011. East Antarctic rifting triggers uplift of the Gamburtsev Mountains. Nature, 479, 388-392.
Scheinert, M., Ferraccioli, F., and 13 others 2016. New Antarctic gravity anomaly grid for enhanced geodetic and geophysical studies. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 600–610, doi:10.1002/2015GL067439.
Golynsky, A.V. F Ferraccioli, and 30 others 2018. New magnetic anomaly map of the Antarctic. Geophys, Res. Lett., 45, 6437–6449. 2018GL078153.
You can find out about applying for this project on the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) page.
Professor Nicky White
Dr Fausto Ferraccioli
British Antarctic Survey Graduate Administrator