Revealing How the Earth Builds and Maintains Continents
From the formation of mountain ranges to the changing of our global climate, many phenomena related to the Earth’s evolution can be traced back to basic chemical and physical interactions between the continental crust and the underlying mantle. Understanding these interactions is the key to unravelling the Earth’s past, present and future dynamics.
As Canada Research Chair in Applied Geochemistry of Earth’s Lithosphere, Dr. Matthijs Smit is researching the petrological and geochemical evolution of the Earth’s crust and uppermost mantle. His research involves field and laboratory experiments in geochemistry, a branch of science that uses chemistry to explain the Earth’s major geological systems. He works with high-grade rocks from mountain ranges and ultra-deep xenoliths (rocks brought up by volcanoes).
Smit and his research team will apply a variety of analytical approaches to investigate the thermal and mechanical evolution of the Earth’s upper mantle and lower crust. They will quantify the transfer of elements within the lithosphere, and assess how all of these aspects influence, and are influenced by, the dynamics of mountain ranges and plateaus.
Smit will work in various settings worldwide, including Canada, Greenland, Central Asia, Scandinavia and South Africa, to obtain a comprehensive dataset that can be screened for geographical variations and changes over time. His research will serve as a cornerstone for new models of how the Earth’s lithosphere formed and evolved through time.