Depths of erosion: A global map of denudation

Where were the rocks at the surface created? Help discover why in this geology honours project.

Model of Rock Types

A model of rock types distributed within the crust (after Wilkinson, 2003). View larger image.

Geophysical data are commonly used to estimate rock compositions within the crust, which works in a general mafic versus felsic sense.  But knowing whether rocks are igneous or sedimentary is also required to develop reliable models of crustal construction and evolution.

Furthermore, trace element distributions are characteristically different for igneous and sedimentary systems.  As shown in the figure below, previous geologic models characterise most of the crust below the surface as metamorphic, a basically useless designation.

Your task is three-fold:

  1. Construct a multidimensional map of rock type, age, and maximum depth of burial;
  2. Develop a model for the proportion of igneous and sedimentary protoliths within the crust; and
  3. Use your model to produce a model of heat production variations with depth within the crust.

Your results will be used to help develop more accurate models of lithospheric composition and improve estimates of crustal temperatures.

As part of this study, you will gain experience with GIS software and its application to large datasets (big data).  Learn to do basic computer coding using Matlab or Python to statistically analyse the world’s largest academic geochemical dataset.


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