Imaging of North-Sulawesi subduction in the Celebes Sea

How does subduction start? The answer to this question remains enigmatic and controversial. The process of subduction, which drives global plate tectonics and helps to shape the Earth as we know it, began as early as 4.1 Ga, but how the first subduction zone initiated remains unknown. Some have argued that the plate tectonic cycle was kick-started by spontaneous subduction at passive continental margins, yet such a phenomenon has thus far not been observed in a modern plate tectonic setting. Consequently, scientists have a very limited understanding of what mechanisms may initiate spontaneous subduction.

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Deep Earth Explorers

In this blog post, Jess Bartlet answers questions about her experiences as a Public Engagement Coordinator within Dr Sanne Cottaar’s deep Earth research group. Together, they seek to unravel and expose the mysteries of the Earth, thousands of kilometres beneath our feet. Working with the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Jess is developing a series of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities to plunge the general public deep into the Earth’s interior from March 2020.

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Deploying nBOSS: the North Borneo Orogeny Seismic Survey

Bye bye “Beast from the East”. We couldn’t have chosen a better time (and location!) for some fieldwork as we left behind an extreme cold snap that froze the UK and dumped fresh snow on Cambridge. In March a team of seismologists from the University of Cambridge and University of Aberdeen boarded a plane for Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah in North Borneo (Malaysia).

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Lava adventures in Central Iceland

Since 2006, Professor Bob White has been operating a seismic network in the centre of the Icelandic highlands in order to understand how melt is distributed beneath the crust and hence how the crust is built. The volcano chosen is Askja, a spectacular composite volcano with 3 impressive, nested calderas. It last erupted in 1961 but its most spectacular eruption was a phreato-plininan eruption in 1875 which caused a mass exodus from NE Iceland. However, this summer, during a routine trip to download the data from the instruments it was side-lined by volcanic activity nearby.

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