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Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Supervisors: Nick Rawlinson, Earth Sciences

Co-Supervisor: Sri Widiyantoro, Institute of Technology, Bandung

Importance of the area of research concerned: 
Southeast Asia is arguably the most tectonically active region on the globe, and has been the source of some of the largest Earthquakes ever recorded, including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake which was ultimately responsible for the death of over 200,000 people. Although the active plate boundaries in this region have been relatively well explored, particularly in the last decade, the more intraplate regions have received little attention, despite having moderate levels of seismic hazard and tectonic histories which are not well understood. Borneo, which is often regarded as the 3rd largest island in the world, is one such place. It lies at the eastern edge of Sunderland, the continental core of southeast Asia, and has been subjected to plate boundary processes up until recently. This includes the formation of the Crocker Ranges from continental collision, and subduction termination in the Neogene, which is likely responsible for the rapid uplift experienced in the north. Little is known about the crust or upper mantle structure beneath Borneo, and up until now there is has been limited geophysical data available for imaging purposes.
Project summary : 
In this project, the student will exploit a new broadband seismic dataset from Borneo in order to image the structure of the crust and upper mantle beneath. This will yield a variety of new constraints, including crustal thickness and velocity variations, and the existence of anomalous structures in the lithosphere and asthenosphere, which will shed new light on the origin and tectonic evolution of the region. Of particular interest is the connection between surface landforms and upper mantle processes, and the relationship between lithospheric structure and the occurrence of earthquakes. Advanced seismic imaging methods will be applied to achieve these results, including earthquake tomography, ambient noise imaging, virtual deep seismic sounding and teleseismic coda wave interferometry.
What will the student do?: 
The student will have the opportunity to be involved in fieldwork, including visiting stations in Borneo to download data and service sites. The project will involve the application of recently developed seismic imaging methods to data collected in the field in order to obtain a clearer picture of the crust and upper mantle beneath the study area. These results will be combined with constraints from remote sensing and GPS measurements, global earthquake catalogues and structural mapping in order to develop a new model for the formation and tectonic evolution of Borneo. This will be done in collaboration with staff and students at the Institute of Technology, Bandung. Results will be written up and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Attendance at national and international conferences will also be used to disseminate results.
Rawlinson, N. Pozgay, S. And Fishwick, S. 2010. Seismic tomography: A window into deep Earth. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, vol 178, pp. 101-135
Hall, R., van Hattum, M. W. A. and Spakman, W. 2008. Impact of India‚ÄďAsia collision on SE Asia: The record in Borneo,;Tectonophysics, vol 451, pp. 366-389
You can find out about applying for this project on the Department of Earth Sciences page.