Processes occurring deep in Earth and planetary interiors govern the present-day structure, dynamics and evolution of Earth and other planets. Convective mass flow in Earth’s mantle, for example, relates to plate tectonics and determines exchange rates of energy and material with Earth’s surface and atmosphere, thereby affecting the habitability of our planet.
The details of any DPhil project will be discussed with the student, but thesis works will generally exploit state-of-the-art experimental techniques, such as diamond-anvil cells, to simulate the extreme conditions of pressure and temperature expected in planetary interiors. Key properties of geomaterials that often behave in unexpected ways under pressure and temperature are measured in-situ by a variety of experimental probes in Oxford laboratories as well as at large-scale research facilities such as the Diamond Light Source or the European XFEL. The experimental insights will be used in conjunction with the geophysical record to enhance our understanding of the inner structure, composition, dynamics and evolution of Earth and other planets.