The interaction of volcanism with a TTF triple junction: the case of Volcan Baru’ and the subducting Panama Fracture Zone

Theme: Solid Earth Dynamics
Primary Supervisor:

Paola Vannucchi

Earth Sciences, RHUL

Secondary Supervisor:

Chiara Petrone


Project Description:

Miocene to present plate tectonic reconstructions of the southern Middle America Trench (MAT) and adjacent volcanic arc reveal the south-eastward migration of the Nazca–Cocos–Caribbean triple junction along the MAT. Volcán Barú is a dormant stratovolcano which lies above the subducting Panama Fracture Zone (PFZ) separating the Cocos and Nazca plates.

This project aims to:

1) better understand the chemical composition of Volcán Barú at different stages of activity with the ultimate aim to find chemical signatures which may give insight into the timing of the arrival of the PFZ beneath the Central America Volcanic Arc;

2) determine whether the PFZ was a transform fault or fracture zone when it subducted (i.e. if a spreading center was subducting to the north of the PFZ prior to arrival at the trench).

This project will integrate field observations, ocean drilling data, geochemical and petrological analysis of Volcán Barú samples with 3D tectonic reconstructions.

Policy Impact of Research:

Subduction zones are significant volcanic and seismic hazards.

The potential impact of subducting plate characteristics on upper plate processes has important benefits for both science and society.

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