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Academic Staff


Dr Andrew Kerr

Research Interests

  • The age, structure, petrogenesis and impact on marine environments of oceanic plateaus, particularly the Caribbean-Colombian Cretaceous oceanic plateau.
  • Processes of oceanic plateau obduction in Colombia.
  • The relationship between the Caribbean-Colombian oceanic plateau and associated arc volcanism.
  • The identification of oceanic plateaus in the geological record (LIP reading)
  • Geochemistry and petrogenesis of the British Tertiary Igneous Province.
  • Nature and origin of mantle plume geochemical signatures.
  • Melt inclusions in large igneous provinces.

Andrew was born and brought up several miles from the spectacular Tertiary columnar basalts of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. It was therefore unsurprising that from an early age Andrew was fascinated by volcanoes. He studied for a degree in Geochemistry at University of St Andrews graduating in 1990 with a first class B.Sc. (Hons) in Geochemistry. His Ph.D., supervised by Prof. R.N. Thompson at the University of Durham was entitled: "The geochemistry and petrogenesis of the Mull and Morvern Tertiary lava succession". This study involved the collection and analysis of 500 samples on a flow-by-flow basis from the Mull lava succession, and resulted in many new insights into mantle plumbing and magmatic processes in the North Atlantic Igneous Province.

Following the completion of his Ph.D. Andrew commenced work as a NERC PDRA with Profs. John Tarney and Andy Saunders looking at the petrogenesis, structure and precise age of the Caribbean-Colombian Cretaceous oceanic plateau. This work has stimulated a tremendous degree of interest, has resulted in several major on-going collaborative projects, and has led to the publication of nine research papers, including an influential review paper in the AGU Monograph on large Igneous Provinces. This study of the Caribbean-Colombian Oceanic Plateau, arguably one of the best exposed oceanic plateaus in the world, has significantly advanced our understanding of the structure and petrogenesis of these oceanic large igneous provinces. This work is ongoing and has recently spread into new geographical areas such as Ecuador, Jamaica, and Venezuela, looking particularly at the tectonic interaction between Cretaceous arc rocks and oceanic plateau material during the plate tectonic evolution of the Caribbean.

Andrew has also worked on the influence of Large Igneous Province formation and eruption on palaeoenvironments and has assessed the validity of competing hypotheses for the cause of the K-T and other extinction events. Part of this work has involved looking for oceanic plateau signatures in Cretaceous sediments from southern England.

Andrew has also written a review papers on oceanic plateaus for the Elsevier Treatise on Geochemistry and for the ‘Great Plume Debate’ special issue of Chemical Geology.

In 2007 Andrew was appointed co-Editor in-chief of Lithos.