Professor Tony Morris
Professor in Geophysics and Geodynamics
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
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Professor of Geophysics and Geodynamics (he/him)
B.Sc. (Hons.) Environmental Sciences, majoring in Geological Sciences (University of East Anglia)
M.Sc. Geophysics (University of Durham)
Ph.D. Geophysics/Geology (University of Edinburgh)
Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (University of Plymouth)
Accredited Teacher in Higher Education (UK Staff and Educational Development Association)
Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
Fellow of the Geological Society of London
Member of the British Geophysical Association
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Member of the American Geophysical Union
Roles on external bodies
- ECORD-Japan Working Group, developing a new joint scientific ocean drilling programme to succeed the current International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) (2021-)
- Chair of the NERC-funded UK-International Ocean Discovery Program (2022-)
- Vice Chair of the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling Science Support and Advisory Committee (ESSAC)
- Chair of ESSAC (2018-2019 & 2020-2021, two successive terms), leading European (and Canadian) scientific involvement in the International Ocean Discovery Program
- IODP Science Framework Working Group (2019-2021)
- UK Representative on ESSAC (2015-2024)
- Member of the UK-IODP Program Advisory Group, (2015-2024)
- JOIDES Resolution Geophysics Laboratory Working Group, IODP (2015-2017)
- Natural Environment Research Council Peer Review College member (2005-2008)
- Treasurer of the British Geophysical Association (2004-2011)
As a geophysicist I am interested in applying physical methods to look at plate tectonic and geodynamic processes. In addition, I use field studies to examine the evidence for oceanic crustal processes preserved in ophiolites (slices of oceanic crustal and mantle rocks that are exposed on land). I have worked mainly in the eastern Mediterranean orogenic belt, but also have extensive experience of engagement with the International Ocean Discovery Program (that collects rock and sediment samples from the present-day ocean basins via scientific ocean drilling). I use my wide range of interests to inform my teaching.
The main focus of my research has been the magnetic analysis of samples of oceanic lithosphere recovered from the world's oceans by the International Ocean Discovery Program and innovative investigations of major ophiolites (slices of oceanic lithosphere that have been emplaced tectonically on to land).
- IODP Expedition 304/305 (2004/2005). This recovered a complexly layered sequence of gabbros and minor ultramafic rocks from the footwall of a major oceanic core complex (OCC) known as Atlantis Massif, located at 30 degrees north on the Mid Atlantic Ridge. The core, extending to over 1400 mbsf, provided a window in to lower crustal accretion processes and the tectonic evolution of OCCs.
- UK-IODP Site Survey cruise JC21 (2008) I sailed on an to the tectonic exposures of fast-spreading rate oceanic crust at Hess Deep. This provided essential site survey data (bathymetric swath-mapping and sampling using the NERC remotely operated vehicle ISIS) to support IODP drilling at this key locality (IODP Proposal #551).
- IODP Expedition 335 (2011), part of the "Superfast Spreading Crust" campaign focused on Hole 1256D. This deep hole was the first to reach the uppermost in situ gabbroic lower crust. Unfortunately, recovery during Exp 335 was limited due to challenging hole conditions, but samples have provided insights into the nature of the thermal boundary layer at the top of the lower crust.
- IODP Expedition 345 to Hess Deep in the Pacific Ocean (2012-2013). This recovered a suite of cores from primitive lower crustal layered gabbros for the first time, confirming the broad features of the ophiolite paradigm and providing a complete picture of the bulk geochemistry of fast-spreading EPR crust. Post cruise research focused on the development of magnetic fabrics in these layered gabbros and the origin of multicomponent remanences in these rocks.
- IODP Expedition 351 "Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc Origins" (2014), one of three back-to-back drilling expeditions designed to examine the evolution of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc system in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. This sampled a 1.4 km sedimentary succession documenting the responses of the upper plate to subduction initiation and the subsequent arc evolution. The site also penetrated into the "basaltic" basement, providing insights into the geochemistry and age of the basement rocks.
- IODP Expedition 360 "Indian Ridge Moho" (2015-2016), that drilled into the footwall of the Atlantis Bank oceanic core complex on the SW Indian Ridge. This long-term project offers the prospect of drilling vertically through a geomagnetic reversal boundary in the oceanic crust for the first time, although we did not reach this level during Expedition 360 unfortunately.
In addition to research in oceanic lithosphere via IODP, I have also focused on the application of palaeomagnetic and magnetic fabric techniques to a range of geodynamic and tectonic problems within ophiolites of the Tethyan orogenic belt and elsewhere. Field areas have included Albania, Canada, Cyprus, Oman, Syria and Turkey. In most cases, this has involved using advanced net tectonic rotation analysis methods to interpret paleomagnetic magnetisation data (a novel approach that out-performs standard structural corrections in complex ophiolite settings). Our most recent research in this area is a major NERC-funded investigation of the 3D anatomy of magma transport at fast-spreading ridges, which uses a combination of magnetic fabric, paleomagnetic and geochemical analyses to established the trajectories of magma flow into and out of a fossil axial magma chamber along the full length of a spreading segment in the Oman ophiolite.
Grants & contracts
Recent successful grant applications:
2021 – NERC Standard Grant, “3D anatomy of magma transport at fast-spreading ridges (PI: Morris) (£790,245 FEC)
2016 – NERC Standard Grant, “Magnetization and tectonic evolution of ultraslow-spreading rate lower oceanic crust, Atlantis Bank, SW Indian Ridge (IODP Expedition 360)” (PI: Morris) (£44,487 FEC)
2015 – EU Marie Curie IF Award, Jan 2015, "PASS: Palaeozoic Seafloor Spreading" (PI: Morris, CI: Anderson, Research Fellow: di Chiara) (183,000 Euros)
2014 – NERC Standard Grant, "Rotation of the Philippine Sea Plate (IODP Expedition 351)" (PI: Morris) (£44,578 FEC)
2012 – NERC Standard Grant, "Palaeomagnetic constraints on lower oceanic crustal processes (IODP Expedition 345 Hess Deep Plutonic Crust" (PI: Morris) (£25,456)
2011 – NERC Standard Grant, "Superfast spreading rate crust 4: magnetism of the lower oceanic crust" (PI: Morris) (£12,425)
2010 – EU Marie Curie IEF Award, Jan 2010, "DEFOrm: Detachment Faults in Ophiolites" (PI: Morris, CI: Anderson, Research Fellow: Maffione) (176,000 Euros)
2007 – NERC Standard Grant, July 2006, "Spatial and temporal scales of crustal accretion in slow-spreading rate oceanic crust (Atlantis Massif, Mid Atlantic Ridge - IODP Site U1309D)" (PI: Morris, CI: MacLeod (Cardiff), Project Partners: Gee (Scripps), John (Wyoming)) (£217,400 FEC)
2006 – NERC UK IODP Rapid Response Grant, May 2006, "Palaeomagnetic constraints on the construction of the lower oceanic crustal section recovered at Hole U1309D, Atlantis Massif, Mid-Atlantic Ridge (IODP Expedition 304/305)" (£1890)
2004 – NERC UK IODP Site Survey Initiative Standard Grant, May 2004, "Accretion of the lower oceanic crust at fast-spreading ridges: a rock drill and near-bottom seafloor survey in support of IODP drilling in Hess Deep" (PI: MacLeod (Cardiff) CI: Teagle (Soton), RR: Morris + Project Partners) (£474,413)
Key publications are highlightedJournals
- Symposium SE5 "Palaeomagnetism and Block Rotation", European Geophysical Society XVII General Assembly, Edinburgh, 6-10 April, 1992.
- JAG 2-day International Meeting "Palaeomagnetism in the Mediterranean Region", Geological Society of London, 28-29 September, 1994.
- Special Session on “Crustal rotations: causes and consequences”, European Union of Geoscience IX, Strasbourg, 23-27 March 1997.
- Symposium L4 “Palaeomagnetism, magnetic fabrics and tectonics”, European Union of Geoscience X, Strasbourg, 28 March - 1 April 1999.
- Symposium SE14.05 "Signature and causes of pervasive and localized remagnetization", European Geophysical Society XXVI General Assembly, Nice, 25-30 March, 2001.
- Symposium LS3 “Integrated tectonic studies of the evolution of the Tethyan orogenic belt in the eastern Mediterranean region", European Union of Geoscience XI, Strasbourg, 8 - 12 April 2001.
- Symposium SE6.02 “Magnetism: Palaeomagnetic contributions to plate tectonics”, European Geophysical Society XXVII General Assembly, Nice, 21-26 April, 2002.
- Symposium MG1 "Open Session on Palaeo-, Rock & Environmental Magnetism", EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, Nice, 7-11 April 2003.
- Special Session S3 " Palaeomagnetism and the structure of eastern Mediterranean", 5th International Symposium on Eastern Mediterranean Geology, Thessaloniki, Greece, 14-20 April 2004.
- Tectonic Studies Group, University of Plymouth, 4-9 January 2005.
- Session ST14 “Palaeomagnetism in the Aegean Region”, International Symposium on the Geodynamics of Eastern Mediterranean, Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey, 15-18 June 2005.
- Scientific Committee member, "Neogene magmatism of the central Aegean and adjacent areas: petrology, tectonics, geodynamics, mineral resources, and environment", Milos, Greece, 11-13 September 2006
- Session TS8.4/GD06.1/GMPV16 "Structure and dynamics of mid-ocean ridges", European Geoscience Union, Vienna, 15-20 April 2007
- Session TS8.5/GD06.2/GMPV17 "Tracing hydrothermal circulation at mid-ocean ridges using geochemistry, geophysics and modelling", European Geoscience Union, Vienna, 15-20 April 2007
- Session IS71/GMPV05/GD6/GD7 "Mid-ocean ridges: interaction of structure, geodynamics, magmatism and hydrothermal circulation", European Geoscience Union, Vienna, 13-18 April 2008
- UK Magnetic Exchanges meeting, University of Plymouth, 8-9 January 2010
- Scientific Committee Member of the 7thInternational Symposium on Eastern Mediterranean Geology, Cukurova University, Turkey, 18-22 October 2010
- Session GP31 "Magnetic mysteries: from the origin of the Hawaiian Emperor Bend to the source of marine magnetic anomalies", American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, 12-16 December 2016
- Session GP44 "The magnetic archive of tectonic processes", American Geophysical Union, New Orleans, 11-15 December 2017
- Session SSP1.2 "Achievements and perspectives in scientific ocean and continental drilling", European Geosciences Union, Vienna, 9-13 April 2018
- Union Session U006 "Fifty years of scientific ocean drilling: how the past informs the future", American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, 10-14 December 2018
- Session SSP1.2 "Achievements and perspectives in scientific ocean and continental drilling", European Geosciences Union, Vienna, 7-12 April 2019
- Session SSP1.4 "Achievements and perspectives in scientific ocean and continental drilling", European Geosciences Union, Vienna, 4-8 May 2020
- Session SSP1.2 "Achievements and perspectives in scientific ocean and continental drilling", European Geosciences Union, Vienna, 19-30 April 2021
Other academic activities
Co-author of the "2050 Science Framework: Exploring Earth by Scientific Ocean Drilling":
Koppers, A., Coggon, R. (eds), Burberry, C., D’Hondt, S., Feakins, S., Godard, M., Fulton, P., Grice, K. Grunert, P., Lowery, C., Michibayashi, K., Miller, K., McKay, R., Morris, A., Norris, R., O’Regan, M., Pages, A., Parnell-Turner, R., Romans, B, and Wallace, L., 2020. “2050 Science Framework: Exploring Earth by Scientific Ocean Drilling”, 132 pp, https://www.iodp.org/2050-science-framework
This distills the hopes and aspirations of the global scientific ocean drilling community into an ambitious long-range vision for ocean science for the next 25+ years of ocean drilling.
European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling Distinguished Lecturer (2015-2016)The ECORD Distinguished Lecturer Programme is designed to bring the exciting scientific discoveries of the IODP to geosciences communities in ECORD and non-ECORD countries. My lecture tour included talks at the following European institutions: Leibniz University Hannover, Germany; Braunschweig University, Germany; Université de Montpellier, France; Utrecht University, Netherlands; Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg, France; University of Bremen, Germany; and Uppsala University, Sweden.