Testing the core-mantle boundary & large igneous province hypothesis: a full-vector palaemagnetic study of the North Atlantic Igneous Province

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Earth Science and Engineering


Background: Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) are large areas of volcanism that erupt over millions of years causing rapid environmental change and mass extinctions, e.g., the PermianTriassic mass extinction. It has been suggested that LIPs are delayed expressions of energy release from the Earth's Core; hot plumes from the Core-Mantle Boundary (CMB) rise over a period of ~50 Myr to form hotspots. When a hotspot first breaks through the Earth's crust a
LIP forms. Before the energy release at the CMB, it is very likely that the Earth's Core was hotter than usual. It is predicted that increases in temperature, will increase fluid-flow rates in the outer Core, increasing the efficiency of the geodynamo, leading to higher geomagnetic field intensities than usual (Biggin, et al., 2012). However, these ideas have not been rigorously tested. The Columbia River Basalts, north west USA, is a 'small' LIP that occurred
~17-14 Ma and is associated with the Yellowstone hotspot, and the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) is a LIP that erupted ~64 to 54 Ma centred on the Icelandic hotspot. The NAIP was broken up during the formation of the Atlantic Ocean and now extends from eastern Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland and Scotland. If the hypothesis of Biggin et al. (2012) is correct, then there should be a low in the intensity recorded by the NAIP LIP basalts
due to the initial formation of the plume that forms the Yellowstone hotspot. However, modern ancient absolute geomagnetic field intensity estimates recovered from NAIP rocks are very limited. There are older estimates, especially from Scotland, however, these no longer meet modern quality criteria.
Project: There are two main aims of the project: 1) Test the CMB & LIP hypothesis of Biggin
et al. (2012), by collecting samples from both the Faroe Isles and the western coast of the
British Isles; 2) Determine extrusion rates of the NAIP, and to help understand its potential link
to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum and climate change (Jones et al., 2019).


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007415/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
2743899 Studentship NE/S007415/1 30/09/2022 30/03/2026 Jennifer Marsh