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Earth Sciences at the University of Fribourg

Bern-Fribourg Master in Earth Sciences


Details of Master Thesis Topic (Module D):
Archean mountain building processes in 3D tectonic experiments

Master Thesis title: Archean mountain building processes in 3D tectonic experiments
Description:As tectonic plates collide over the course of millions of years, mountain ranges like the Alps and Himalayas are built. Tectonic processes have been active since the early days of our planet. However, as the Earth cooled down since Archean times, also the mantle temperature and the geothermal gradient in the continental crust changed significantly. Yet the effect of these changes on the dynamics behind mountain building events remains poorly understood.

The aim of this project is to simulate mountain building events during the hotter Archean by means of tectonic laboratory experiments, and to compare the results with those from experiments of mountain range development under present-day conditions. This comparison will allow us to quantify and explain the differences in structural and topographic evolution between Archean and present-day mountain ranges.

The laboratory experiments will be run using equipment from the Tectonic Modelling Lab in Bern. State-of-the-art methods are available to analyze the 3D surface deformation and topographic evolution of the experiments (e.g. quantifying 3D displacements and fault activity through 3D Particle Image Velocimetry). Additional 4D model analysis by means of X-ray CT-scanning techniques (uniquely allowing an insight into internal model development) may be applied for promising experiments.
Advisors:Dr. Frank Zwaan, Prof. Nicolas Greber, Prof. Guido Schreurs
Specialities:ELE, EM, GEOL
University: BE


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