Deciphering the signature of fluid/rock reaction in the lower oceanic crust: The Oman ophiolite analogue

Project title: Deciphering the signature of fluid/rock reaction in the lower oceanic crust: The Oman ophiolite analogue

Director of Studies: Dr Michelle Harris

2nd Supervisor: Professor Antony Morris

3rd Supervisor:  Professor Damon Teagle (, tel: +44 2380 592723

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2018.

Project description

Recent studies have highlighted the requirement for hydrothermal circulation at mid ocean ridges to extend into the lower crust1. How deep these fluids penetrate, how much fluid reaches these depths and what are the fluid pathways are critical questions to answer in order to test the two end member models (gabbro glacier and multiple sills2) for the accretion of the lower crust. Hydrothermal circulation is recorded by fluid/rock reactions that result in the formation of secondary minerals; rocks from the ocean crust therefore provide a record of this key Earth process3.  Field studies of ophiolites have been critical for the development of our understanding of the ocean crust, but have been limited to samples exposed at the surface. The ICDP Oman Drilling Project ( has successfully recovered 1200m of cores from the lower crust of the Oman ophiolite, providing a unique set of cores to test these end member models4. This project will combine high-resolution quantitative core logging along with novel imaging methods (xCT and imaging spectroscopy) with the outcrop scale context, providing an unrivalled opportunity to study the formation of the ocean crust.

Project aims: (1) to determine the characteristics of the lower crustal hydrothermal system both in terms of the fluid and rock, and (2) to test the end member accretion models. The student will be trained in and apply high-resolution core logging, petrology (optical, SEM) and geochemical analysis to a suite of rocks and secondary minerals from the Oman Drilling Project cores.


1 Harris et al., 2017 EPSL

2 Summary in: Maclennan et al., 2004 G-cubed

3 Kelemen et al., 2014


Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £14,553 per annum. The studentship will only fund applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between Home/EU and overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £10,350 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Michelle Harris. Applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

General information about applying for research degrees at Plymouth University is available at:  

Please apply via the online application form which can be found at: and select 'Apply'.

Please mark FAO Sharon Healy clearly stating that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science. Please attach a covering letter detailing your suitability for the studentship, a CV and 2 academic references.

For more information on the admissions process please contact Sharon Healy.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon, 28 February, 2018. 

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview week beginning 19 March. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer by 30 March should consider their application unsuccessful.