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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Diamonds in the Mantle

Published: 23 May 2016
Prof Peter Kelemen
Professor Peter Kelemen, on the Lizard in Cornwall, rocks that were once part of the Earth's mantle.

University of Southampton Diamond Jubilee Fellow and Visiting Professor, and US National Academy member Professor Peter Kelemen of Columbia University (New York) visited University of Southampton in April.

Professor Kelemen was here to discuss ongoing planning of the Oman Drilling Project with the ODP team including Project Director Dr Juerg Matter and Science Project Manager Dr Jude Coggon. Peter also took the opportunity of a weekend in England and good spring weather for a short geological excursion down to Cornwall to visit the Lizard ophiolite with Southampton geologists Professors Damon Teagle and Rachael James. The Lizard is an ancient slice of ocean crust that was accreted onto the continental crust of southern Cornwall about 370 million years ago.

Ocean and Earth Science at Southampton is rich in expertise on the formation and evolution of the ocean crust that covers more than 60% or our planet, but most of our efforts involve drilling holes in the ocean floor, undertaking geophysical experiments, or sampling active seafloor hydrothermal vents. Ophiolites such as the Lizard and more famous examples like the Troodos massif in Cyprus or the Samail Mountains of Oman, provide important three dimensional outcrops that preserve ancient seafloor magmatic, hydrothermal and tectonic relationships and processes, which are difficult to unravel from remote geophysical data or borehole observations. Peter and Damon completed the coastal traverse from Coverack to Porthoustock, from the mantle to the sheeted dikes of the upper ocean crust, to interrogate proposals about the formation of slow spreading ocean crust as described by Professors Steve Roberts, Dave Sanderson and Jon Bull and Dr Jim Andrews, from the University of Southampton during their research campaigns in the 1990s. Damon and Peter also visited parts of the forearc accretionary complex around Kennack Sands that exposes small blocks of mantle peridotite, surrounded by reaction zones, captured within metamorphic rocks.

Professor Kelemen’s visit continued an intensive series of collaborative activities with Southampton colleagues as the Oman Drilling Project builds into its operational phase in winter 2016-17. Damon Teagle commented ‘The best geologists have seen a lot of rocks, and being in the field with a scientist of Peter Kelemen’s formidable experience and acumen always results in new observations and insights. The Diamond Jubilee Fellowship for Professor Kelemen has facilitated a wide range of collaborative science activities around the globe and Peter has been a great mentor to our PhD students Nicolas Bompard and Barbara Zihlmann.’



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