05-MMG-OC2 Geophysics of Plates, Mantle and Margins

Representative Marta Pérez Gussinyé

Learning Contents:

Key elements of the Earth’s surface are plates, lithosphere and upper mantle, and this lecture deals with geophysical methods and data to characterize their properties, understand the kinematics of plates anddiscuss the geodynamical consequences.
We introduce into advanced aspects of plate tectonics with a focus on plate boundaries as ridges, rifted margins, fracture and subduction zones. Geophysical evidence from earthquake seismology, reflection and refraction seismics as well as heat flow, magnetic and gravity measurements are used. Fundamental characteristics of both erosive and accretionary subduction margins are covered. Related exercises use various marine geophysical data sets to be worked up in groups.
The role of the lithosphere in bending, rifting and continental breakup is introduced as well as mantle driving forces, convection and plumes and their consequences on elevation, crustal strength
and deformation styles. Exercises are carried out using simple numerical simulation and modelling techniques.

Learning Outcomes, Targeted Competencies:

1) Students have broadened and deepened their knowledge of deformation and mass transfer processes at convergent margins, mechanics and dynamics of forearc regions.
2) Students are able to characterize tectonic processes at rifted margins and ridges.
3) Students got familiar with geophysical, particularly reflection seismic, data interpretation.
4) Students understand fundamental equations that govern subsidence at rifted margins and oceanic plates. They gained familiarisation of their solution using simple codes in Matlab.

Prior Knowledge:

Background in basics of geophysics

Course Type 1: Lecture, Exercise (L+E) 4.0 SWS ( 56.0 h)

Tutorial(s): -


56.0 h presence time
68.0 h self-study
56.0 h exam workload

180 h total workload

Exam Type:

module exam


exam elements: 1
SL: 0

100 % Oral group examination


1) Turcotte, D. L. & G. Schubert (2002): Geodynamics: Applications of Continuums Physics to Geological Problems. John Wiley and Sons, New York
2) Basin Analysis: Principles and Applicatin to Petroleum Play Assessment, Allen and Allen, Willey - Blackwell
3) Mid-ocean ridges, Searle, Cambridge University Press
4) The oceanic crust, from accretion to mantle recycling, Juteau and Maury, Springer