Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Mountains Metamorphism and Element Mobility

Currently Active: 

Silicate weathering results in the drawdown of atmospheric CO2 on long timescales, and is a key control on the global carbon budget. However, the links between silicate weathering, the carbon cycle and climate change are complex and poorly constrained. Importantly, more data are needed to better understand the factors that control silicate weathering rates. Our goal is to use a range of samples (hot springs, rivers and rocks) from the South Island of New Zealand to better constrain the weathering regime in a region of rapid uplift.

Schematic diagram of major carbon reservoirs & fluxes. Values: Siegenthaler & Sarmiento 1993; Sleep & Zahnle 2001; Hayes & Waldbauer 2006; Gerlach 1991; Williams et al 1992; Gaillardert et al 1999
Carbon fluxes and reservoirs

Scientific Aims

1. Analyse various weathering tracers, including δ7Li, δ26Mg & δ11B, using MC-ICP-MS and TIMS. Determine how weathering processes fractionate these isotopes.

2. Investigate the contribution of deep crustal fluids to surface waters.

3. Gain a better understanding of silicate weathering rates & weathering intensity in this environment.

4. Explain how metamorphism & erosion are important in the distribution of elements in the crust & oceans.

5. Assess the linkages between tectonics & global climate.

Map of the South Island of New Zealand. Note that the metamorphic grade of the rocks increases from east to west. Oblique convergence is still occurring along the Alpine Fault.
Geological map of South Island

Why explore this region?

  1. The geology of the South Island of New Zealand provides a unique environment to explore the behaviour of important trace elements during orogeny and mineralization.
  2. The South Island is relatively monolithological, has glacial and non-glacial rivers, and it has undergone rapid uplift and metamorphism.
  3. It is highly fractured and has a raised geothermal gradient.


Key Contacts

Prof. Damon Teagle (Project Supervisor)
Prof. Rachael James (Project Supervisor)
Dr. Simon Cox (Project Supervisor)

Miss Sarah Wright (PhD Student)

PhDs and Other Opportunities


Associated research themes

Carbon Storage and Geoengineering

Hydrothermal Processes and Mineral deposits

Past Present and Future Environmental Change

Share this research project Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings