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Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences - USRG

U-Series Research Group

Uranium-series isotopes provide chronological information in the range 500 kyr down to seconds that is not accessible through other radiogenic or paleontological methods. As these time scales are similar to those on which many Earth processes occur they can provide unique information on the mechanisms involved. The U-series Research Group in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Macquarie University has two main research agendas (outlined below) that drive a significant number of PhD and post-doctoral projects. However, the group as a whole (see participants) work in a multi-disciplinary manner. The publications list provides a summary of key outputs.

Igneous processes

For about a decade we have used U-series isotopes to investigate the time scales of magmatic processes and to use these to constrain physical mechanisms. Beginning with understanding the nature of the on-set of melting we are particularly interested in the transition from porous flow to channelled flow at very low melt fractions in the mantle in a variety of tectonic settings. We hope to combine the U-series constraints with experimental observations using the D-DIA at the Australian Synchrotron. Subsequent to segregation, melts ascend and differentiate. We have an ongoing series of projects that are using U-series isotopes to determine the time scales of differentiation (including processes of assimilation and mixing). These provide new insights into the thermal conditions and rapidity of evolution of magmatic systems (e.g. depth, volume) that can, for example, be used to inform models for volcanic hazards. In relation to the latter, we also have a series of projects investigating the time scales of magmatic degassing. 

Weathering and erosion processes

Landscape evolution is central to studies of climate change, soil sustainability and neotectonics. In order to understand landscape evolution it is important to know how rapidly soils are produced and transported through the system. We have been strongly involved in efforts to use U-series isotopes, often in conjunction with cosmogenic isotopes, to delineate these time scales. There are a number of different approaches currently employed and on-going research is aimed at appraising their relative merits. By comparing results from both temperate and arid environments we hope to assess the consequences of climate change in ways that can be built into models for future climate change.

 

Contact:

Prof. Simon P. Turner

Phone.: +61-2-9850-8363
Fax: +61-2-9850-8943

Email: simon.turner@mq.edu.au


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