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Investigating the North America/South America plate boundary with marine geophysical data

Project Description

Project Rationale:
Continental plates are well-known to deform over broad areas but oceanic plates are often thought of as rigid blocks with narrow boundaries. However there is increasing evidence for broader-scale deformation within oceanic plates. One example is within the central western Atlantic, where there is a diffuse boundary between the North American and South American plates. Some of the relative motion is expressed in changes in the trends of Atlantic fracture zones, but some of the motion is taken up by individual areas of shortening that has formed elevated ridges on the seafloor in the central Atlantic, such as Barracuda Ridge and Tiburon Rise. This project will aim to constrain the timing and amount of shortening that has occurred, and how it is accommodated. Potentially the ridges represent overthrusting of the oceanic crust, and thus the initiation of a new subduction zone. The ridges are also partly subducted beneath the existing Antilles subduction zone, changing regional sediment transport from south to north and possibly controlling the size and location of major earthquakes.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


Pichot et al. (2012) The Cenozoic tectonostratigraphic evolution of the Barracuda Ridge and Tiburon Rise at the western end of the North America-South America plate boundary zone, Marine Geology, 303, 154-171. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2012.02.001
Mueller and Smith (1993) Deformation of the oceanic crust between the North American and South American plates, Journal of Geophysical Research, 98, 8275-8291. doi:10.1029/92JB02863
Goes et al. (2019) Project VoiLA: Volatile Recycling in the Lesser Antilles, EOS, 100. doi:10.1029/2019EO117309

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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