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  • 2015-2019  (129)
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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-01-02
    Description: Even though it is well accepted that the Earth's surface topography has been affected by mantle-convection induced dynamic topography, its magnitude and time-dependence remain controversial. The dynamic influence to topographic change along continental margins is particularly difficult to unravel, because their stratigraphic record is dominated by tectonic subsidence caused by rifting. We follow a three-fold approach to estimate dynamic topographic change along passive margins based on a set of seven global mantle convection models. We first demonstrate that a geodynamic forward model that includes adiabatic and viscous heating in addition to internal heating from radiogenic sources, and a mantle viscosity profile with a gradual increase in viscosity below the mantle transition zone, provides a greatly improved match to the spectral range of residual topography end-members as compared with previous models at very long wavelengths (spherical degrees 2–3). We then combine global sea level estimates with predicted surface dynamic topography to evaluate the match between predicted continental flooding patterns and published paleo-coastlines by comparing predicted versus geologically reconstructed land fractions and spatial overlaps of flooded regions for individual continents since 140 Ma. Modelled versus geologically reconstructed land fractions match within 10% for most models, and the spatial overlaps of inundated regions are mostly between 85% and 100% for the Cenozoic, dropping to about 75–100% in the Cretaceous. Regions that have been strongly affected by mantle plumes are generally not captured well in our models, as plumes are suppressed in most of them, and our models with dynamically evolving plumes do not replicate the location and timing of observed plume products. We categorise the evolution of modelled dynamic topography in both continental interiors and along passive margins using cluster analysis to investigate how clusters of similar dynamic topography time series are distributed spatially. A subdivision of four clusters is found to best reveal end-members of dynamic topography evolution along passive margins and their hinterlands, differentiating topographic stability, long-term pronounced subsidence, initial stability over a dynamic high followed by moderate subsidence and regions that are relatively proximal to subduction zones with varied dynamic topography histories. Along passive continental margins the most commonly observed process is a gradual motion from dynamic highs towards lows during the fragmentation of Pangea, reflecting the location of many passive margins now over slabs sinking in the lower mantle. Our best-fit model results in up to 500 (± 150) m of total dynamic subsidence of continental interiors while along passive margins the maximum predicted dynamic topographic change over 140 million years is about 350 (± 150) m of subsidence. Models with plumes exhibit clusters of transient passive margin uplift of about 200 ± 200 m, but are mainly characterised by long-term subsidence of up to 400 m. The good overall match between predicted dynamic topography to geologically mapped paleo-coastlines makes a convincing case that mantle-driven topographic change is a critical component of relative sea level change, and indeed the main driving force for generating the observed geometries and timings of large-scale continental inundation through time.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-10-22
    Description: An International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) workshop was held at Sydney University, Australia, from 13 to 16 June 2017 and was attended by 97 scientists from 12 countries. The aim of the workshop was to investigate future drilling opportunities in the eastern Indian Ocean, southwestern Pacific Ocean, and the Indian and Pacific sectors of the Southern Ocean. The overlying regional sedimentary strata are underexplored relative to their Northern Hemisphere counterparts, and thus the role of the Southern Hemisphere in past global environmental change is poorly constrained. A total of 23 proposal ideas were discussed, with 12 of these deemed mature enough for active proposal development or awaiting scheduled site survey cruises. Of the remaining 11 proposals, key regions were identified where fundamental hypotheses are testable by drilling, but either site surveys are required or hypotheses need further development. Refinements are anticipated based upon regional IODP drilling in 2017/2018, analysis of recently collected site survey data, and the development of site survey proposals. We hope and expect that this workshop will lead to a new phase of scientific ocean drilling in the Australasian region in the early 2020s.
    Repository Name: EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-02-01
    Description: A vast ocean basin has spanned the region between the Americas, Asia and Australasia for well over 100 Myr, represented today by the Pacific Ocean. Its evolution includes a number of plate fragmentation and plate capture events, such as the formation of the Vancouver, Nazca, and Cocos plates from the break-up of the Farallon plate, and the incorporation of the Bellingshausen, Kula, and Aluk (Phoenix) plates, which have been studied individually, but never been synthesised into one coherent model of ocean basin evolution. Previous regional tectonic models of the Pacific typically restrict their scope to either the North or South Pacific, and global kinematic models fail to incorporate some of the complexities in the Pacific plate evolution (e.g. the independent motion of the Bellingshausen and Aluk plates), thereby limiting their usefulness for understanding tectonic events and processes occurring in the Pacific Ocean perimeter. We derive relative plate motions (with 95% uncertainties) for the Pacific–Farallon/Vancouver, Kula–Pacific, Bellingshausen–Pacific, and early Pacific–West Antarctic spreading systems, based on recent data including marine gravity anomalies, well-constrained fracture zone traces and a large compilation of magnetic anomaly identifications. We find our well-constrained relative plate motions result in a good match to the fracture zone traces and magnetic anomaly identifications in both the North and South Pacific. In conjunction with recently published and well-constrained relative plate motions for other Pacific spreading systems (e.g. Aluk–West Antarctic, Pacific-Cocos, recent Pacific–West Antarctic spreading), we explore variations in the age of the oceanic crust, seafloor spreading rates and crustal accretion and find considerable refinements have been made in the central and southern Pacific. Asymmetries in crustal accretion within the overall Pacific basin (where both flanks of the spreading system are preserved) have typically deviated less than 5% from symmetry, and large variations in crustal accretion along the southern East Pacific Rise (i.e. Pacific–Nazca/Farallon spreading) appear to be unique to this spreading corridor. Through a relative plate motion circuit, we explore the implied convergence history along the North and South Americas, where we find that the inclusion of small tectonic plate fragments such as the Aluk plate are critical for reconciling the history of convergence with onshore geological evidence.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2017-01-31
    Description: The South American continent as we know it formed during the break-up of West Gondwana between 150 and 110 million years ago, when the South Atlantic Rift system evolved into the South Atlantic ocean. Using state-of-the-art global tectonic reconstructions in conjunction with numerical and analytical modelling, we investigate the geodynamics of rift systems as they evolve into an ocean basin. We find that rifts initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. In case of the split between South America and Africa, the divergence rate increased from initially 5 to 7 millimetres per year to over 40 millimetres per year within few million years. Intriguingly, abrupt rift acceleration did not only occur during the splitting of West Gondwana, but also during the separation of Australia and Antarctica, North America and Greenland, Africa and South America, in the North Atlantic or the South China Sea. We elucidate the underlying process by reproducing the rapid transition from slow to fast extension using analytical and numerical modelling with constant force boundary conditions. The mechanical models suggest that the two-phase velocity behaviour is caused by a rift-intrinsic strength–velocity feedback similar to a rope that snaps when pulled apart. This mechanism provides an explanation for several previously unexplained rapid absolute plate motion changes, offering new insights into the balance of plate driving forces through time.
    Type: Article , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-06-24
    Description: Highlights • Compilation of rifting events in the Neoproterozoic • Analysis of continental arc, continental rift and connectedness of continental lithosphere for the last 1 Ga • Two stage supercontinent cycle may better explain changes in the connectedness of continental lithosphere • Extraversion and introversion models of successive supercontinents occur on different timescales Abstract The extent of continental rifts and subduction zones through deep geological time provides insights into the mechanisms behind supercontinent cycles and the long term evolution of the mantle. However, previous compilations have stopped short of mapping the locations of rifts and subduction zones continuously since the Neoproterozoic and within a self-consistent plate kinematic framework. Using recently published plate models with continuously closing boundaries for the Neoproterozoic and Phanerozoic, we estimate how rift and peri-continental subduction length vary from 1 Ga to present and test hypotheses pertaining to the supercontinent cycle and supercontinent breakup. We extract measures of continental perimeter-to-area ratio as a proxy for the existence of a supercontinent, where during times of supercontinent existence the perimeter-to-area ratio should be low, and during assembly and dispersal it should be high. The amalgamation of Gondwana is clearly represented by changes in the length of peri-continental subduction and the breakup of Rodinia and Pangea by changes in rift lengths. The assembly of Pangea is not clearly defined using plate boundary lengths, likely because its formation resulted from the collision of only two large continents. Instead the assembly of Gondwana (ca. 520 Ma) marks the most prominent change in arc length and perimeter-to-area ratio during the last billion years suggesting that Gondwana during the Early Palaeozoic could explicitly be considered part of a Phanerozoic supercontinent. Consequently, the traditional understanding of the supercontinent cycle, in terms of supercontinent existence for short periods of time before dispersal and re-accretion, may be inadequate to fully describe the cycle. Instead, either a two-stage supercontinent cycle could be a more appropriate concept, or alternatively the time period of 1 to 0 Ga has to be considered as being dominated by supercontinent existence, with brief periods of dispersal and amalgamation.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-06-24
    Description: Deep-sea carbonate represents Earth’s largest carbon sink and one of the least-known components of the long-term carbon cycle that is intimately linked to climate. By coupling the deep-sea carbonate sedimentation history to a global tectonic model, we quantify this component within the framework of a continuously evolving seafloor. A long-term increase in marine carbonate carbon flux since the mid-Cretaceous is dominated by a post-50 Ma doubling of carbonate accumulation to ∼310 Mt C/yr at present-day. This increase was caused largely by the immense growth in deep-sea carbonate carbon storage, post-dating the end of the Early Eocene Climate Optimum. We suggest that a combination of a retreat of epicontinental seas, underpinned by long-term deepening of the seafloor, the inception of major Himalayan river systems, and the weathering of the Deccan Traps drove enhanced delivery of Ca2+ and HCO3– into the oceans and atmospheric CO2 drawdown in the 15 m.y. prior to the onset of glaciation at ca. 35 Ma. Relatively stagnant mid-ocean ridge, rift- and subduction-related degassing during this period support our contention that continental silicate weathering, rather than a major decrease in CO2 degassing, may have triggered an increase in marine carbonate accumulation and long-term Eocene global cooling. Our results provide new constraints for global carbon cycle models, and may improve our understanding of carbonate subduction-related metamorphism, mineralization and isotopic signatures of degassing.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Additive Construction with Mobile Emplacement (ACME) project is developing construction materials with which infrastructure elements, including habitats, will be additively constructed for planetary surface missions. These materials must meet requirements such as the ability to be produced from available in-situ resources to eliminate the cost of launching materials from Earth, the ability to be emplaced via three dimensional building techniques, the ability to resist aging in extreme environments including radiation and micrometeorite bombardment, and the ability to provide the necessary structural integrity for a given building. This paper reviews the constraints placed on such planetary construction materials and details the work of the ACME team in characterizing materials that could one day construct planetary surface structures on Mars or the Moon. Material compositions, compressive strength, and requirements for additive construction on planetary surfaces are discussed. Due to the multifunctional requirements of the material, an optimization is necessary to balance between the site-specific regolith composition, emplacement via additive construction techniques, and characteristics of the final structure.
    Keywords: Space Sciences (General)
    Type: MSFC-E-DAA-TN47553 , ASCE Earth and Space Conference; 9-12 Apr. 2018; Cleveland, OH; United States
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: No abstract available
    Keywords: Optics
    Type: KSC-E-DAA-TN31306 , ASCE International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction and Operations in Challenging Environments (Earth and Space 2016); 11-15 Apr. 2016; Orlando, FL; United States
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: A regolith simulant test bin was constructed and completed in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations (GMRO) Lab in 2013. This Planetary Regolith Test Bed (PRTB) is a 64 sq m x 1 m deep test bin, is housed in a climate-controlled facility, and contains 120 MT of lunar-regolith simulant, called Black Point-1 or BP-1, from Black Point, AZ. One of the current uses of the test bin is to study the effects of difficult lighting and dust conditions on Telerobotic Perception Systems to better assess and refine regolith operations for asteroid, Mars and polar lunar missions. Low illumination and low angle of incidence lighting pose significant problems to computer vision and human perception. Levitated dust on Asteroids interferes with imaging and degrades depth perception. Dust Storms on Mars pose a significant problem. Due to these factors, the likely performance of telerobotics is poorly understood for future missions. Current space telerobotic systems are only operated in bright lighting and dust-free conditions. This technology development testing will identify: (1) the impact of degraded lighting and environmental dust on computer vision and operator perception, (2) potential methods and procedures for mitigating these impacts, (3) requirements for telerobotic perception systems for asteroid capture, Mars dust storms and lunar regolith ISRU missions. In order to solve some of the Telerobotic Perception system problems, a plume erosion sensor (PES) was developed in the Lunar Regolith Simulant Bin (LRSB), containing 2 MT of JSC-1a lunar simulant. PES is simply a laser and digital camera with a white target. Two modes of operation have been investigated: (1) single laser spot - the brightness of the spot is dependent on the optical extinction due to dust and is thus an indirect measure of particle number density, and (2) side-scatter - the camera images the laser from the side, showing beam entrance into the dust cloud and the boundary between dust and void. Both methods must assume a mean particle size in order to extract a number density. The optical extinction measurement yields the product of the 2nd moment of the particle size distribution and the extinction efficiency Qe. For particle sizes in the range of interest (greater than 1 micrometer), Qe approximately equal to 2. Scaling up of the PES single laser and camera system is underway in the PRTB, where an array of lasers penetrate a con-trolled dust cloud, illuminating multiple targets. Using high speed HD GoPro video cameras, the evolution of the dust cloud and particle size density can be studied in detail.
    Keywords: Optics
    Type: KSC-E-DAA-TN27566 , ASCE International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction and Operations in Challenging Environments (Earth and Space 2016); 11-15 Apr. 2016; Orlando, FL; United States
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is developing a new deployable launch system capability to support a small class of launch vehicles for NASA and commercial space companies to test and launch their vehicles. The deployable launch pad concept was first demonstrated on a smaller scale at KSC in 2012 in support of NASA Johnson Space Center's Morpheus Lander Project. The main objective of the Morpheus Project was to test a prototype planetary lander as a vertical takeoff and landing test-bed for advanced spacecraft technologies using a hazard field that KSC had constructed at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF). A steel pad for launch or landing was constructed using a modular design that allowed it to be reconfigurable and expandable. A steel flame trench was designed as an optional module that could be easily inserted in place of any modular steel plate component. The concept of a transportable modular launch and landing pad may also be applicable to planetary surfaces where the effects of rocket exhaust plume on surface regolith is problematic for hardware on the surface that may either be damaged by direct impact of high speed dust particles, or impaired by the accumulation of dust (e.g., solar array panels and thermal radiators). During the Morpheus free flight campaign in 2013-14, KSC performed two studies related to rocket plume effects. One study compared four different thermal ablatives that were applied to the interior of a steel flame trench that KSC had designed and built. The second study monitored the erosion of a concrete landing pad following each landing of the Morpheus vehicle on the same pad located in the hazard field. All surfaces of a portable flame trench that could be directly exposed to hot gas during launch of the Morpheus vehicle were coated with four types of ablatives. All ablative products had been tested by NASA KSC and/or the manufacturer. The ablative thicknesses were measured periodically following the twelve Morpheus free flight tests. The thermal energy from the Morpheus rocket exhaust plume was only found to be sufficient to cause appreciable ablation of one of the four ablatives that were tested. The rocket exhaust plume did cause spalling of concrete during each descent and landing on a landing pad in the hazard field. The Extended Abstract ASE Earth and Space Conference April, 2016 - Orlando, FL concrete surface was laser scanned following each Morpheus landing, and the total volume of spalled concrete that eroded between the first and final landings of the Morpheus Project's test campaign was estimated. This paper will also describe a new deployable launch system (DLS) capability that is being developed at KSC and was publicly announced in May 2015 (KSC Partnerships, 2015). The DLS is a set of multi-user Ground Support Equipment that will be used to test and launch small class launch vehicles. The system is comprised of four main elements: the Launch Stand, the Flame Deflector, the Pad Apron and the KAMAG transporter. The system elements are designed to be deployed at launch or test sites within the KSC/CCAFS boundaries. The DLS is intended to be used together with the Fluid and Electrical System of the Universal Propellant Servicing Systems and Mobile Power Data and Communications Unit.
    Keywords: Launch Vehicles and Launch Operations
    Type: KSC-E-DAA-TN27741 , Earth & Space 2016 - Biennial ASCE International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction and Operations in Challenging Environments; 11-15 Apr. 2016; Orlando, FL; United States
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