Sulfur Isotopes Paper Published in Nature Communications

Our work led by Will Hutchison on the use of sulfur isotopes has been published on open access in the journal Nature Communications. The work was led by the St Andrews team in collaboration with colleagues at Tübingen and Glasgow Universities. The group at St Andrews included four of our group (Will Hutchison, Adrian Finch, Nicky Horsburgh and Anouk Borst), our colleague Eva Stüeken (who works on chalcogen isotope fractionation) and ex-A-team member Henrik Friis who is now Associate Professor at the University of Oslo.

Hutchison W, Babiel RJ, Finch AA, Marks MAW, Markl G, Boyce AJ, Stüeken EE, Friis H, Borst AM & Horsburgh NJ (2019) Sulphur isotopes of alkaline magmas unlock long-term records of crustal recycling on Earth. Nature Communications, 10, 4208.

IMG_0787
Lead author Will Hutchison on the Motzfeldt Intrusion, one of the centres studied in the recent study.

Will compared the original mantle signatures of Gardar magmas with a compilation of data across the globe for alkaline igneous rocks. The team noticed that variations in mantle sulfur signatures matched gross trends in the isotope values of the contemporary surface, which changed dramatically over Earth History. He concluded that the sulfur in the Gardar magmas contained a component that had been recycled from the Earth’s surface.

The exciting conclusion is that the Earth’s sulfur cycle contains a significant component of surface sulfur being recycled back into the mantle. His work draws attention to how useful alkaline igneous rocks are as windows on the composition of the sub-continental mantle across geological time.

Press Coverage

The work has received significant national press coverage including of the following:

University Press Release – https://news.st-andrews.ac.uk/archive/ancient-volcanoes-reveal-earths-recycled-crust/

The Herald – https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17906666.scots-scientists-discover-secrets-earths-crust/

The Courier – https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/979895/st-andrews-scientists-unearth-secrets-of-earths-crust/

Deadline – http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2019/09/16/ancient-volcanoes-reveal-earths-recycled-crust/

Phys.org – https://phys.org/news/2019-09-ancient-volcanoes-reveal-earth-recycled.html

Environmental News Network – https://www.enn.com/articles/59767-ancient-volcanoes-reveal-earth-s-recycled-crust

The Saint – http://www.thesaint-online.com/2019/10/university-scientists-make-breakthrough-volcanic-study/