Nichole Moerhuis

PhD student
University of British Columbia

Magmatic differentiation is the process by which a magma produces a range of igneous rock types and is key for the formation of Mafic Layered Intrusions (MLI), however the timescales at which magmas are emplaced and crystallized in these fascinating intrusions remain poorly constrained. My research aims to develop a geochronologic and thermochronologic framework for the Skaergaard intrusion by applying high resolution U-Th-Pb, U-Th/He and 40Ar-39Ar dating to accessory minerals (e.g., zircon, rutile apatite, biotite). The Skaergaard intrusion in East Greenland, a classic testing ground for identifying magmatic processes and a spectacular natural laboratory for high-resolution geochronology due to its relative youth (~56 million years of age), small size, and closed system behavior during cooling and crystallization. Resolving magmatic timescales to tens of thousands of years will enable high-resolution correlation with regional events, both tectonic (opening of the North Atlantic Rift) and paleoenvironmental (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum). This research is a PhD project based at the University of British Columbia with Drs. James Scoates and Dominique Weis and in collaboration with Dr. Christian Tegner of Aarhus University (Denmark).

I am from the South Island of New Zealand and my interest in geology began as I explored my beautiful backyard – the Southern Alps. I completed an undergraduate degree in Geology at the University of Otago (New Zealand) with a component of study at Haskoli Islands (University of Iceland) in 2012. As an undergraduate, I focused upon palaeontology and examined Tertiary perturbations in sea level within sedimentary sequences from Central Otago. My MSc thesis (University of Otago, 2013-14) examined the metamorphism, mineralization and deformation of a Paleozoic amphibolite schist (the Onekaka Schist) in northwest Nelson, New Zealand. This project initiated my interest in geochronology and geochemistry as tools to unravel geological processes.