The research programs of the Department are divided into the five general domains of Magmatism and Volcanology, Physical Volcanology, Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology, Geological Risk (CERG), and Ore Deposit Genesis, which are respectively the responsibilities of Professors M. Dungan, U. Schaltegger, C. Bonadonna, and L. Fontboté, in collaboration with academic staff members members D. Fontignie, R. Moritz, S. Th. Schmidt, M. Chiaradia, R. Spikings and C. Frischknecht, postdoctoral assistants (K. Kouzmanov, L. Pioli, I. Marton, I. Manzella, M. Ovtcharova), and 20 PhD students. Many of the research involve multiple international collaborators and all involve PhD and MSc students.
The focus of the group led by Prof. L. Caricchi is the understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for the transfer and emplacement of magma in the Earth’s crust and its eruption at the surface. We combine fieldwork with analytical characterization of the chemistry and fabrics of eruptive and intrusive products to determine how the coupled physico-chemical evolution of magmas controls magmatic and volcanic processes.
Our scientific mission is to understand how magmatic processes contribute to shaping our planet and what are the main physical factors controlling the frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions. Because more than 400 millions people live in the proximity of a volcano, this last, is an issue of high societal importance.
Currently we are working on a magmatic system in Japan in which, extraordinarily, the eruptive products of a super-eruption (700 km3) are exposed together with the paleo-magma chamber that fed the eruption. In parallel, we are studying a Colombian volcano, which recently reactivated after a dormancy period of about 900 years. These field-based studies are combined with numerical modeling to project the data collected in different magmatic systems to the understanding of volcanic activity at a global scale.
Collaborators include: Prof. P. Ulmer, PD Dr H.B. Mattsson and Mattia Pistone (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Prof. J.B. Blundy, Dr A. Rust, Dr C. Annen, Prof. H. Mader, and D. Muir (University of Bristol, UK), Prof. S. Wallis (University of Nagoya, Japan), J. M. Londoño, M. Calvache and many others of the Geological Survey of Colombia, Dr D. Perugini (University of Perugia, Italy), Dr U. Küppers (LMU, Munich, Germany), Dr. F. Gaillard (CNRS-Orleans, France), Dr S. Müller, Prof B. Kaus and Prof. J. Castro (University of Mainz).
The physical volcanology group led by Prof. C. Bonadonna is focused on field, numerical and experimental investigations of volcanic processes. In particular, we are interested in the understanding of explosive volcanism and in the probabilistic assessment of associated hazards. As part of this group, a state-of-the-art sedimentology lab for characterizing volcanic particles and a fluid dynamics lab for detailed studies of volcanic processes have just been completed.
National and international collaborators include: Dr. JC Phillips (University of Bristol, UK), Prof. B. Chopard (University of Geneva, Switzerland), Prof. P. Haas from l’Ecole d'ingénieurs de Genève (CMEFE - Groupe de compétences en mécanique des fluides et procédés énergétiques / IMEC), Prof. B. Azzopardi (University of Nottingham, UK), Prof. M. Rosi (Pisa University, Italy), Prof. R. Cioni (Cagliari University, Italy), Prof. M. Ripepe (Florence University, Italy), Dr Armann Hoskuldsson (University of Iceland, Iceland), Prof. CB Connor (University of South Florida, USA), Prof. BF Houghton (University of Hawaii, USA), Prof. CE Gregg (East Tennessee State University, USA), Dr. A. Costa (INGV Napoli, Italy), Dr. S. Scollo (INGV Catania, Italy) and Dr. J. Clavero (Energia Andina, Chile). For research projects and facility details please visit: http://www.unige.ch/sciences/terre/mineral/volcano/index_en.html
The research group in isotope geochemistry and geochronology is directed by Prof. Urs Schaltegger, together with research collaborators Dr. D. Fontignie, Dr. Massimo Chiaradia and Dr. Richard Spikings. The group includes post-doc research fellows and PhD students. The technical infrastructure features metal-free clean-air laboratories, two thermal ionization mass spectrometers, a Finnigan MAT262 and a Thermo-Fisher TRITON, a 40Ar/39Ar dating laboratory equipped with an ARGUS gas mass spectrometer from Thermo-Fisher and a Noblesse from NuInstruments, and a fission track dating laboratory.
The isotope group follows a variety of research directions: (1) High-precision U-Pb geochronology using mainly zircon, but also monazite, xenotime, titanite and other minerals. (2) Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf tracing and dating of magmatic, metamorphic and ore-forming processes, and of climate change. (3) Regional geochronological projects study of duration and rates of magmatic and tectonic processes, including terrane and provenance studies using detrital zircon. (4) Determining the thermal evolution of accreted and autochthonous terranes along the South-American continental margin using Ar-Ar, fission-track and U-Th/He dating. The laboratory hosts Master and PhD students, as well as post-doctoral researches from the Mineralogy and Geology Departments of Geneva and Lausanne Universities, as well as visiting scientists from other Swiss and foreign universities.
Current projects include:
- Quantification of post-extinction biotic recovery after the Permian/Triassic and Triassic/Jurassic mass extinctions, c. 250 and 200 Ma ago, as well as of the Toarcian anoxic crisis, c. 180 Ma ago. Ultraprecise and accurate U-Pb age determinations on zircon from volcanic ash beds from within well-documented and ammonoid-/conodont-calibrated marine cross-sections in China, Peru, USA and New Zealand are compared to data on basalt flows from the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province and the Karoo continental basalt province, in order to assess their role in triggering global climate change and mass extinction.
- Evolution of the pre-Andean Gondwana margin in Peru: tectonic evolution of the Proto-Andean continental margin from Carboniferous extension and Triassic rifting to Jurassic arc magmatism and subduction.
- Precise and accurate ID-TIMS dating of standard zircon for laser ablation ICP-MS U-Pb dating using an Excimer ArF laser and an ELEMENT2 XR at University of Lausanne. In collaboration with Prof. O. Müntener and Dr. F. Bussy, University of Lausanne.
- Late Tertiary transition from calc-alkaline to adakite-like magmatism in Ecuador and its bearing on the formation of porphyry-related deposits: U-Pb dating and Pb-Sr-Nd isotope systematics of magmatic rocks.
- Resolving magma chamber processes, tracing magma mingling, crystallization, fractionation and initial cooling of the Adamello batholith in NW Italy, by high-precision and laser-ablation ICP-MS U-Pb dating using zircon and titanite, isotopic tracing and geochemistry. Joint ProDoc program with ETH Zürich and University of Lausanne
- Intercalibration of astronomical with isotopic (Ar-Ar and U-Pb) timescales by U-Pb zircon dating of volcanic ash beds in Miocene cyclic sedimentary successions of the Mediterranean.
- Investigating the origin of the Interandean Depression, Ecuador, in order to understand the response of the bounding cordilleras to the formation of an intermontane, ramp basin. This project includes: i) U/Th-He analysis of apatite from the Ecuadorian Cordilleras with Dr. Peter Crowhurst, CSIRO, Sydney. ii) The production of a high resolution, 40Ar/39Ar based chronostratigraphy for sedimentary basins within the Interandean Depression.
- Geochemical, Geochronological and Petrological Characteristics of the Ophiolitic Rocks located between the Central Anatolian Crystalline Massif and the Pontide Belt, in collaboration with Prof. F. Çelik (Kocaeli University, Turkey) and Prof. R. Marschik (Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany).
For more information on people, projects and equipment, see:
The CERG (Certificat de formation approfondie en Etude et management des Risques Géologiques) provides a comprehensive training in management of geological risk. It consists of five modules (risk management, seismic hazard, volcanic hazard, terrain instabilities and hydro-meteorological hazards) and is run every summer (April-June). Over the last 20 years the CERG has trained participants from 65 countries around the world in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and in association with the United Nations University (UNU), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). It has also cooperated in research projects around the world. More details can be found at: http://www.unige.ch/sciences/terre/mineral/CERG/index.html
E. Ore deposits
Circulation of fluids is the principal control on the formation of hydrothermal base metal and gold deposits at different levels of the continental crust. The general aim of the Geneva Ore Deposits Group led by Lluís Fontboté and Robert Moritz, in collaboration with Kalin Kouzmanov and Massimo Chiaradia, post docs and graduate students, is to investigate the geochemistry and role of fluids in the formation of ore deposits. Several projects are carried out in close cooperation with mining companies. Main current projects, most including at least one PhD or MSc project are the following.
- Zoned base metal ("Cordilleran") veins and replacement deposits in intrusion-related (generally porphyry) systems: Colquijirca-San Gregorio, Cerro De Pasco, Morococha, Domo de Yauli, Peru.
- Relationships among geodynamics, magmatism, and high- and low-sulfidation epithermal deposits in the Cretaceous Srednegorie and Tertiary Rhodope tectonic zones of Bulgaria, including Chelopech and Ada Tepe.
- Fe-oxide copper gold deposits (IOCG): Candelaria-Punta del Cobre, Chile; Salobo, Brazil; Raúl-Condestable, Peru
- Au-skarns: Nambija, Ecuador
- Volcanic Hosted Massive Sulfides (VHMS): Perubar, Peru; La Plata, Ecuador
- Orogenic Gold: Pataz, Peru
- Missississippi Valley-type deposits and low temperature zinc-lead/barite/fluorite veins
- Radiogenic isotopes applied to metallogeny and regional studies (mainly Northern and Central Andes)
- Mineralogy of tailings / Acid mining drainage (in cooperation with B. Dold, Lausanne)
- Other topics