The research of the Continental margins and the deep ocean frontier group focuses on geological processes in marine basins, their relationship with the formation of mineral and energy resources, and the triggering of natural hazards. The research group gathers geophysicists and geologists with expertise in geodynamic processes, margin and basin research, and marine mineral resources. The research includes a variety of disciplines and techniques, such as marine geophysics, tectonics and geodynamics, structural geology, sedimentology, petrology, space geodesy and numerical and physical modelling. The group defined a set of regional targets, as a function of their scientific and societal interest or on-going cooperation with the private sector. Most of them are tackled as natural laboratories for the study of marine geo-processes with global relevance.
Scientific Highlights 2017
The Azores-Gibraltar plate boundary has been a natural laboratory for deep/shallow geodynamic studies and to foster international collaborations. In the Azores plateau, IDL researchers focused on the evolution of insular shelves, Holocene kinematics of the triple junction, evolution of the magmatic plateau, and mass transport processes. Hydration processes of oceanic lithosphere along Atlantic fracture zones were studied based on geochemical/geophysical methods and OBS recorded seismicity. Numerical modelling at plate scale allowed for a quantitative assessment of the tectonic driving mechanisms of the SW Iberia Margin. The EUROFLEETS-2 funded cruise (PROPEL), under IPMA-IDL leadership, allowed for novel seismic reflection imaging of the plate boundary at the intersection with the volcanic Madeira-Tore Rise. The recently approved Gloria-Flows cruise on the Madeira–Gloria Abyssal Plains, funded by the German Science Foundation and under IDL co- -leadership, will study active metassomatism of the oceanic lithosphere and will contribute to the quest of the process of subduction initiation at Atlantic-type margins.
Ocean floor shaping processes
Research on shaping processes of the volcanic island shelves allowed for a new understanding of the relationship between morphology and both internal and external geodynamic processes, such as volcanism, uplift and subsidence, and oceanic dynamics. The study of internal architecture and deformation of the contourite deposits of the Portuguese Continental Margin allowed for a better understanding of the onset and variation of the Mediterranean Outflow Water depositional system since the Pliocene. Integrated geomorphologic interpretation using independent multi-scale methods and numerical modelling allowed a new insight on the potential of landslide induced tsunamis. Recognition of tsunamigenic potential driven by coastal landslides and generalized mass transport processes are new evidences of a continuously deforming continental margin under changing conditions of sedimentation loading, tectonic shortening and uplift.