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Research Plans

Research Plans

Project Summary

In this 4-year NERC funded project, we will integrate geophysical, petrological and geochemical observations from the Lesser Antilles into a geodynamic framework for understanding the role of volatiles in subduction

Project Components

In 5 project components, we will test:

(1) where volatiles are held within the incoming plate;

(2) where they are transported and released below the arc;

(3) how the volatile distribution and pathways relate to the construction of the arc; and

(4) their relationship to seismic and volcanic hazards and the fractionation of economic metals.

(5) Finally, the behaviour of the Lesser Antilles arc will be compared with that of other well-studied systems to improve our wider understanding of the role of water in subduction processes.

To address these questions we will conduct an active seismic experiment on the incoming plate, a passive seismic experiment across the fore- and back-arc regions of the Lesser Antilles, geochemical and petrological analyses of magmas and cumulates from samples along the arc, and numerical modelling of slab-wedge dynamics and its consequences on dehydration and melting.

Sea expedition March 2016: RSS James Cook JC133

The aim of JC133 is to deploy 34 broad-band ocean-bottom seismometers (BBOBS) across the Lesser Antilles to record earthquake waves from local and distant events.

The instruments are being sourced from the German DEPAS facility and American OBSIP/Scripps facility. The instruments will remain on the seafloor for 15 months recording natural earthquakes before being recovered in May 2017. Underway gravity, magnetic and swath bathymetry will also be collected during the cruise.

Sea expedition April-June 2017: RSS James Cook JC149

The James Cook will be back in the Antilles to recover the ocean-bottom seismometers that it deployed about 14 months ago. The instruments have hopefully recorded many earthquake data to will allow us to image the deep structure below the region and better map the pattern of earthquakes. The scientists on the expedition will also do an active seismic shoot that can be registered on seismic stations on the islands (some of which we deployed as part of our project). This part of the experiment will let us image the roots of the volcanic arc. Along the way, active under water volcano Kick-em Jenny will be revisited to do a detailed swath bathymetry, which can reveal whether there have been any further changes in the volcano shape as a result of eruptions or rise of new magma below it. Finally, the team on board of the James Cook will put out the recovered and additional seismic stations in several lines on the sea floor for an active seismic experiment to image how much water is brought in by the subducting plate.