Welcome to the research group "Petrology of the Ocean Crust"

Our research

The continuous construction and destruction of seafloor is a hallmark of plate tectonics and the dynamic Earth. The group studies various aspects of this important part of the plate tectonic cycle that imparts a strong control on the chemical evolution of Earth’s main reservoirs.
Our samples come from the deep seafloor and from subaerial and submarine volcanoes. Sampling is conducted using research vessels and deep-submergence vehicles, and is followed by geochemical and mineralogical analyses in the lab in order to unravel how ocean crust and oceanic islands develop.
The group also studies hydrothermal systems such as black smokers, which form when seawater interacts with hot ocean crust. Massive sulfide deposits as well as unique chemosynthetic ecosystems develop in these hot spring environments.  We examine the transfers of mass and energy in hydrothermal systems using analytical and theoretical geochemistry. 

Working areas

  • Mid-oceanic ridges where new oceanic crust is produced by seafloor spreading (e.g. Mid-Atlantic Ridge, East Pacific Rise)
  • Seamounts and oceanic island volcanoes built over a hotspot (e.g. Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands)
  • Subduction zones where oceanic crust descends into the mantle and becomes recycled (e.g. Manus Basin)
  • Hydrothermal systems in all these settings where geochemical reactions fuel chemosynthesis-based life

Methodologies

  • Microscopic investigation of rocks
  • Preparation of samples in clean rooms
  • Geochemical analyses of whole rocks using inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis, etc.
  • Microgeochemical analyses using laser-ablation ICP-MS, electron microprobe (EMP), etc.
  • Microthermometry of fluid inclusions in minerals
  • Thermodynamic calculations of mineral-solution equilibria in fluid-rock interactions and energy yields of reactions prone to enzymatic catalysis by microbes

Additional information