South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3AN, UK

44-(0) 1865-272032

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Prof. Anthony B. Watts

Professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics

The distribution, morphology and structure of seamounts on the South-West Indian Ocean Ridge


The seafloor is littered by seamounts, some of which reach heights of up to 6 km above the surrounding seafloor. Most seamounts are volcanic in origin, but it is not clear whether they reflect active hotspots in the deep mantle, passive cracking of the plates or some combination of these processes. The Indian Ocean has > 30,800 seamounts, a number of which are associated with transform fault - mid-ocean ridge intersections. The purpose of this project, which is collaborative with Prof. Alex Rogers in the Department of Zoology, is to acquire new sub-bottom profiler, swath bathymetry and gravity data over 4 seamounts on the South-West Indian Ridge and to interpret these data in terms of the morphology, structure and origin of seamounts in an extensional plate boundary setting. The successful student will take part in a research cruise onboard RRS James Cook, which will acquire the geophysical data as part of a study of seamount benthic faunas using the NERC Remotely Operated Vehicle Isis. The cruise will depart Port Elizabeth (South Africa) November 4th 2011 and return December 17th 2011 which will allow time for pre-cruise training, cruise participation and the writing-up of results. The project is a unique opportunity to carry out research in a challenging environment with a team of scientists working at the boundaries of geophysics, geology, oceanography and biology.



Selected References:

Contreras-Reyes, E., I. Grevemeyer, A. B. Watts, L. Planert, E. R. Flueh, and C. Peirce (2010), Crustal intrusion beneath the Louisville hotspot track, Earth and Planet. Sci. Lett., 289, 323-333. PDF

Hillier, J. K., and A. B. Watts (2007), Global distribution of seamounts from ship-track bathymetry data, Geophys. Res. Letts., 34, doi:10.1029/2007GL029874. PDF

Koppers, A. A. P., and A. B. Watts (2010), Intraplate Seamounts as a window into Deep Earth Processes, Oceanography, 23, 42-57. PDF

Mitchell, N. C., D. G. Masson, A. B. Watts, M. J. R. Gee and R. Urgeles, (2002), The morphology of the submarine flanks of volcanic ocean islands: A comparative study of the Canary and Hawaiian hotspot islands, J. Volcan. Geotherm. Res., 115, 83-107. PDF

Watts, A. B., D. T. Sandwell, W. H. F. Smith, and P. Wessel (2006), Global gravity, bathymetry, and the distribution of submarine volcanism through space and time, J, Geophys. Res., 111, doi:10.1029/2005JB004083. PDF

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