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IGA ZOOM LECTURE: The Galápagos Archipelago – A Natural Laboratory for Understanding Sub-Volcanic Processes By Dr Michael J. Stock Assistant Professor in Geochemistry, TCD

November 257:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The Galápagos Archipelago: A Natural Laboratory for Understanding Sub-Volcanic Processes
By Prof. Michael J. Stock
Assistant Professor in Geochemistry, Trinity College Dublin


Abstract: The Galápagos Archipelago is one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth, with eruptions typically occurring every 2–3 years. Each island is made up of one or more volcanoes, which are fed by compositionally diverse magmas and can be easily monitored using satellite techniques. These features make the islands a unique “natural laboratory” for understanding the structure and processes operating within sub-volcanic magma plumbing systems. However, due to their remote location and strict permitting requirements, there has been comparatively little geological research in Galápagos, relative to regions with similar volcanic activity (such as Iceland and Hawaii). Our knowledge about magmatic systems in the archipelago remains extremely limited.
In this presentation, I’ll review our understanding of Galápagos geology, starting with Darwin (who was secretly a geologist…) and ending with the on-going work of an international research team currently applying state-of-the-art analytical techniques to understand the processes operating beneath the different volcanoes. I’ll particularly focus on an expedition which I led to sample recent lava flows in 2017, highlighting the challenges of working in such a remote environment. I’ll show how samples collected on this expedition have been used to aid in interpreting geophysical data at the Earth’s surface, and how detailed petrographic and geochemical interrogation of these samples revealed the presence of hidden “explosive” magmas beneath volcanoes which have produced monotonous basaltic lava eruptions for thousands of years. These findings have not only transformed our understanding of Galápagos volcanoes but also how eruptions are triggered globally. They will facilitate better interpretation of volcano monitoring data in the future, which will greatly improve wildlife and civil protection.

Prof. Mike Stock is an igneous petrologist, whose research is focussed on developing novel petrological and geochemical techniques to understand the architecture and dynamics of magmatic systems. He completed his PhD at the University of Oxford, investigating how volcanic apatite crystals can be used to understand the behaviour of magmatic volatiles, before holding the Charles Darwin Junior Research Fellowship at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, where he began integrating petrological and geophysical datasets to understand sub-volcanic processes in the Galápagos Archipelago. Mike moved to Trinity College Dublin as an Assistant Professor in Geochemistry in September 2019, establishing a new igneous petrology research group and developing an interest in the Palaeogene volcanics of Co. Louth and Northern Ireland. Alongside his igneous petrology research, Mike is the Director of the Earth Surface Research Laboratory – a new national geochemical research facility, funded by the Geological Survey of Ireland and responsible for collecting geochemical data for the Tellus Survey.

When: Wednesday 25th November, 7pm-8pm
Where: Online via Zoom
E-mail irishgeologicalassociation@gmail.com to register.
Zoom Details will be emailed on the day of the event. All Welcome!

Photo credit: ABCNews


November 25
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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