PhD Studentship: Assembly of the British Tertiary Igneous Province (BTIP)

PhD Studentship: Assembly of the British Tertiary Igneous Province (BTIP)

Issued: Tue, 07 Jun 2016 20:00:00 BST

Fully funded PhD studentship


Studentship supervision team: Dr Darren F. Mark (SUERC) and Dr Ryan Ickert (SUERC).


Project background: Large igneous provinces (LIPs) represent the largest localised magmatic events to occur within the last few hundred million years. With an estimated volume of extrusive rocks of 2 x 106 km3 the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) is one of the largest LIPs. It includes the lavas of Baffin Island, West and East Greenland, the seaward dipping reflectors associated with the rifted margins of Greenland and NW Europe, the BTIP, the aseismic Greenland-Faeroes-Icelandic ridge and Iceland.

The BTIP forms the focus of this proposed study. Although dated at relatively low precision, many questions persist concerning the age and duration of the volcanism preserved at many Tertiary igneous centres across the west coast of Scotland, as well as their temporal relationship to the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. The formation of these centres followed a basic pattern: (1) eruption of fissure-fed plateau lavas; (2) formation of central complexes; and (3) injection of cross-cutting dykes. The student will conduct extensive fieldwork to sample the igneous centres up and down the west coast of Scotland for both high-precision geochronology (Ar/Ar and U-Pb at SUERC) and paleomagnetism (measurements to be made by the student at the Berkeley Geochronology Center). The student will use the field relationships and paleomagnetism measurements to construct a robust magnetostratigraphy for each igneous centre. Subsequently they will make state-of-the-art high-precision Ar/Ar and U-Pb ages to construct an accurate and precise geomagnetic timescale for the BTIP.

The data will allow determination of the volcanological and petrological processes at work during magma ascent through the crust, through to intrusion of plutons and dykes and eruption of lavas and pyroclastic rocks. These results will place rigorous constraints on the timing, lifespan and nature of magmatism up and down the west coast of Scotland, as well as the controls on intrusive and eruptive style. As the study sites are located on the eastern fringe of the ancestral Iceland plume head the study will provide valuable information about its structure and therefore its origin.


About you: We are seeking dynamic candidates with strong Earth Science backgrounds (degree level 2.1 or above), able to function across disciplines, and an enthusiasm to learn the skills and intricacies of radioisotopic dating and paleomagnetism. The student will spend extensive periods of time in the field. The studentship will also require a lot of time spent in the laboratories at SUERC as well as visiting the paleomagnetic facility at the Berkeley Geochronology Center. The project is fully funded by SUERC.


The Studentship will be based at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre which is based in East Kilbride. The student will be registered at the University of Glasgow (awarding university). Applications can be made through the University of Glasgow website and please list PhD at SUERC during the application procedure. Please contact Dr Darren Mark ( for further information. The project is open to UK, EU and international students.


Closing date for entry to 2016 programme is 30th June 2016.

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