Extracurricular activities for current and former geosciences students provide great value to early career scientists in terms of networking and broadening their scientific horizon. PhD student Maximilian Döhmann, who studies rock deformation with numerical models based on high temperature and pressure torsion experiments in the Geodynamic Modelling group of GFZ Potsdam, shares his experiences with the yearly EUGEN meeting.
Today I would like to introduce to you the EUGEN e.V., the EUropean GEosciences students Network. The network’s main goal is to bring together geosciences students (and former students) from all over the world through organizing annual meetings throughout Europe (see map of meeting locations). The network can already look back at a continuous history of meetings since 1996 and this year’s 22nd meeting took place in the beautiful Croatia.
In the second week of August, roughly 100 geoscientists met to enjoy a week of geological and cultural field trips, talks and presentations, making new contacts and simply meeting old friends. The camp ground was located at the karst-river Mrežnica – a perfect location during the hot Croatian summer. There, we experienced a typical EUGEN week starting with the ice-breaker party on Monday, followed by three days of field trips, one day of the traditional and challenging Geolympix and one day of cultural sight seeing.
Three varied field trip destinations were offered this year, organized by the local hosts (students from the University of Zagreb): the Velebit mountain range (part of a fold and thrust belt), the Istria peninsula and the Skrad valley in north-west Croatia. As a part of the Dinarides, the latter is known for the Devil’s Passage canyon and the Green Whirlpool. Composed of Permian clastic rocks, Triassic clastic rocks and dolomites as well as Lower Jurassic limestones, the area has a lot to offer for sedimentary geologists. But also structural geologists get their money’s worth due to the complex tectonic history resulting in nappe tectonics, extensional features and impressive folding structures.
Besides having fun on the spectacular field trips, we also competed in a big social event – the Geolympix. The competition traditionally consists of highly entertaining (see photo) games played between teams composed of people from as many different countries as possible. Among others, we played rope-bound team-running (very effective for getting to know each other), platform diving (from ~5 m height) and wheelbarrow-jousting. The team with the most points in the whole competition won a delicious price (no spoiler here, find out what the price entails for yourself next time!).
To decide where the next meeting would be located, every country interested in hosting the event gave a presentation about themselves and their country during the week. On the last evening a decision was made by all participants, it will be … drum rolls … Austria! The next day everyone started their journey home feeling a little sad because the week went by so fast. But, after this so called post-EUGEN-depression, you will soon start to feel better when looking forward to the upcoming meeting. On that note, I hope that I have given you a compelling impression of what the EUGEN is all about and that I will see some of you August next year in Austria!
Today’s NetherMod update is written by Yue Zhao. She did her MSc at Utrecht University and is now a PhD at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. To study the thermal evolution of the Moon, she incorporates high temperature and pressure experimental results from her group into numerical models of lunar mantle convection.
After a wonderful ice-breaking evening in the glimmering setting sun over Lake Veluwemeer, today we started off the first day of science!
Today’s talks followed the theme of crust/lithosphere modelling. The topics ranged widely from the rifting of mechanically heterogeneous lithosphere to the generation and destruction of flat slabs, from continental rifting modelled at a global scale to renewed computational methods for two-phase flow. Even though these are not exactly the topics I focus on in my PhD, it was great fun to hear about what other cool work my fellow geodynamicists are doing.
What I really like about this conference is that the talks are one hour long, so the speakers really have the time to provide the background and build up their stories. Unlike the common ten-minute presentations at most other conferences, which are only meant for people who are already familiar with the topic, the long talks at NetherMod are meant to properly introduce problems and invite discussions. They are meant for everyone in the room to understand!
What is the future of geodynamics? It is in the advances of mathematical and physical understandings of natural processes, in better software, in more realistic parameters, in more accurate observations with which we can evaluate our models. The future of geodynamics is what WE create. So, stay tuned to this community!
Every 8 weeks we turn our attention to a Remarkable Region that deserves a spot in the scientific limelight. To kick off this series, Anne Glerum introduces us to the eastern Mediterranean, which has been a natural laboratory for generations of scientists.
The name of our Remarkable Region is quite descriptive: it designates the region around and including the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. From the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning in the middle of land (Wikipedia), this Sea is a large body of water surrounded by land: the African, European and Asian continents. In turn, the convergence of these continents is what helped shape the region. Such a meeting of continents is in itself a promise of scientific treasure.
McKenzie phrased the cause of scientific interest in Mediterranean deformation a little more prosaically in 1972: “it is an accessible and reasonably well-studied area where the motion between the major plates involved is well known”. These reasons have only become more valid today. The first point will be readily agreed upon; perhaps you are even reading this blog post while stretched out on one of the Mediterranean’s beautiful beaches (or, more in line with my view of geo-people on vacation, after a week-long hike along the tops of an Alpine mountain chain).
McKenzie’s second point is related to both the first and the last: the more readily accessible a region is, the more easily data can be collected and hypotheses tested. At the same time, knowledge of the major plate motions provides boundary conditions to the region under investigation. The major plates involved in the Mediterranean (Fig. 1) are the Nubian and Arabian plates presently converging at about 0.6 and 1.5 cm/yr, respectively, with Eurasia (Nocquet 2012).
The interaction of these major plates was part of the evolution of the larger Tethys region with its Alpine-Himalayan orogenic belt now running from the Mediterranean to Indonesia (Hafkenscheid 2004). The Tethys region is named after the Proto-, Paleo- and Neo-Tethys oceanic domains (Berra and Angiolini, 2014), whose opening and closing resulted in the continental collisions forming this mountain chain. For a clearer mental picture, watch for example these reconstructions by Zahirovic et al. 2012, 2016.Consumption of the Tethyan oceanic domains occurred through mostly northward subduction underneath Eurasia (the northern Nubia-Arabia margin is a passive margin). Back-arc spreading related to roll-back of the subducting plates created smaller oceanic basins; the subsequent closure of the smaller and larger basins resulted in the accretion of continental fragments to Eurasia (Hafkenscheid 2004).
Within our remarkable region, the approximately Oligocene closure of the Neo-Tethys (e.g. Hafkenscheid 2004; Agard et al. 2011; Berra and Angiolini 2014) resulted in the continental collision of Arabia and Eurasia. Remnants of this Neo-Tethys subduction are the Bitlis and Zagros suture zones (Hafkenscheid 2004). To the west, in the Aegean region, the Nubian plate is still subducting, as it has been continuously for at least the last 100 My (e.g. van Hinsbergen et al. 2005; Jolivet and Brun 2010). This continuous subduction included oceanic domains as well as continental fragments of about 300-500 km (Facenna et al. 2003; van Hinsbergen et al. 2005; Jolivet and Brun 2010), of which the upper crust was scraped off and accreted as nappe stacks (van Hinsbergen et al. 2005).
While these nappe stacks are mostly preserved on mainland Greece (Jolivet and Brun 2010), back-arc extension has thinned the Aegean-west Anatolia region (van Hinsbergen and Schmid 2012; Faccenna et al. 2014; Menant et al. 2016;) after the Paleocene compressional phase that resulted in a.o. the Dinarides and Hellenides mountain belts (Faccenna et al. 2014, see Fig. 1). Due to the slab-retreat related extension, high-temperature methamorphic domes were exhumed (van Hinsbergen and Schmid 2012; Facenna et al. 2014). The speed of extension of the Aegean-west Anatolian region increased significantly around 15 Ma (Faccenna et al. 2003; van Hinsbergen and Schmid 2012; Menant et al. 2016), coincident with a bending of the subduction zone, possibly facilitated by tearing of the Aegean slab below western Anatolia (Jolivet et al. 2015).
At the present-day, Nubian subduction and trench retreat are still ongoing. GPS velocity fields illustrate how the motion of the Aegean and Anatolian plates differs from the overall Nubia-Eurasia convergence: their counter-clockwise rotation is facilitated by the strike-slip North Anatolian Fault and Trough and the East Anatolian Fault and increases towards the Hellenic trench (Le Pichon and Kreemer 2010; Nocquet 2012). These motions result from the interplay –in various proportions according to different authors- of the continental escape of Anatolia, Hellenic trench retreat, gravitational potential energy variations and asthenospheric flow (e.g. Le Pichon and Kreemer 2010; Faccenna and Becker 2010; England et al. 2016; Menant et al. 2016).
All in all, the present eastern Mediterranean has a complex geological history that has sparked and continues to spark the interest of many geo-scientists. Faccenna et al. (2014) neatly summarize the new concepts that were coined and/or tested based on the accessibility, wealth of data and known boundary conditions of the Mediterranean region, such as oroclinal bending and the opening of back-arc basins, extensional and strike-slip tectonics in an overall convergent setting, continental escape, trench rollback and slab tearing. A remarkable region indeed!
References: Agard, P. et al. (2011), Zagros orogeny: a subduction-dominated process, Geological Magazine, Cambridge University Press, 148 (5—6), 692—725. Berra, F. and Angiolini, L. (2014), The Evolution of the Tethys Region throughout the Phanerozoic: A Brief Tectonic Reconstruction in AAPG Memoir 106: Petroleum Systems of the Tethyan Region, 1—27. England, P., Houseman, G. and Nocquet, J.-M. (2016), Constraints from GPS measurements on the dynamics of deformation in Anatolia and the Aegean, J. Geophys. Res.: Solid Earth, 121. Faccenna, C., Jolivet, L., Piromallo, C. and Morelli, A. (2003), Subduction and depth of convection in the Mediterranean mantle, J. Geophys. Res., 108, B2, 2099. Faccenna, C. and Becker, T. W. (2010), Shaping mobile belts by small-scale convection, Nature, 465. Faccenna, C. et al. (2014), Mantle dynamics in the Mediterranean, Rev. Geophys., 52. Hafkenscheid, E. (2004), Subduction of the Tethys Ocean reconstructed from plate kinematics and mantle tomography. PhD thesis, Utrecht University. Jolivet, L. and Brun, J.-P. (2010), Cenozoic geodynamic evolution of the Aegean, Int. J. Earth Sci., 99, 109—138. Jolivet, L. et al. (2013), Aegean tectonics: Strain localization, slab tearing and trench retreat, Tectonophysics, 597—598, 1—33. Jolivet, L. et al. (2015), The geological signature of a slab tear below the Aegean, Tectonophysics, 659, 166—182. Le Pichon, X. and Kreemer, C. (2010), Kinematic Evolution of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East and Its Implications for Dynamics, Annu. Rev. Earth Pl. Sc., 38, 323—351. McKenzie, D. (1972), Active Tectonics of the Mediterranean Region. Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 30, 109—185. Menant, A., Jolivet, L. and Vrielynck, B. (2016), Kinematic reconstructions and magmatic evolution illuminating crustal and mantle dynamics of the eastern Mediterranean region since the late Cretaceous, Tectonophysics, 675, 103—140. Nocquet, J.-M. (2012), Present-day kinematics of the Mediterranean: A comprehensive overview of GPS results, Tectonophysics, 579, 220—242. Van Hinsbergen, D. J. J., Hafkenscheid, E., Spakman, W., Meulenkamp, J. E. and Wortel, R. (2005), Nappe stacking resulting from subduction of oceanic and continental lithosphere, Geology, 33, 325—328.