Crust and Lithosphere

Carrara Marble after experiment at T=600 °C

Ductile flow and transport in the lithosphere

The rheological and transport properties of rock materials constituting the Earth’s lithosphere exert a strong control on a wide range of geological processes, at a range of scales. The physical properties of rock materials are controlled by micro-scale processes such as crystal defect motion, recrystallisation or diffusion. Of particular importance is the rate of deformation due to these processes, which is typically described in terms of creep equations or flow laws.

Research aim

One of the aims of the Experimental Rock Deformation Group is to gain insight into these microphysical processes and to quantify them, on the basis of deformation experiments and microstructural study. The results can be included in numerical models addressing processes such as those involved in plate tectonics, solid state flow of the upper mantle, the development of shear zones, and flow of ice sheets.