Proterozoic-Paleozoic histories of North Greenland: pivotal windows for deciphering the High Arctic tectonic puzzle

Current knowledge on the geological history in the Arctic suffers from key data gaps. This proposal offers a unique, integrated approach to tackle several outstanding issues of the Proterozoic-to-Paleozoic tectonic development in North Greenland, one of the most undersurveyed areas in the World. A thorough study of stratigraphy, metamorphism, geochronology, structural geology and deep lithospheric structure will add crucial references for improved tectonic models of the region. The main aims are to reconstruct the robust paleogeographic position of North Greenland, to characterise deformation and metamorphism along major structures, and to understand the juxtaposition, lateral movement and relationships of terranes in the European-North American Arctic (North Greenland, Ellesmere Island, Svalbard) from the Mesoproterozoic to Carboniferous, including various orogenic events (Timanian, Caledonian, Ellesmerian). The project will include research of archived and newly collected rocks from N Greenland, as well as analysis of newly collected earthquake data.
This project builds on the unique opportunity to use Icebreaker Oden as a logistical platform, and on mutual scientific and infrastructural support with other projects. For instance, it will enable activities focused on glacial history of N Greenland including deciphering provenance of recent glacial deposits, defining geological constrains on glacial flow and recording earthquakes related to deglaciation.

2024-2027 Swedish Research Council no 2023-03843 – PI Jarek Majka

Total budget: 3 712 000 SEK

Deep volatiles cycle during subduction of the continental crust and crust-mantle interaction

This project aims to better understand the role of the subduction of the continental crust for the mobilization and storage of carbon and halogens. The objective is to better constrain their behavior, quantify the amounts released from crust to mantle, determine their fluxes and track them through time. The target will be melt and fluid inclusions trapped in mantle rocks enclosed in the continental crust and in rocks from the continental crust itself. The samples are high-pressure rocks formed at different times from Ordovician to Cretaceous in the three major European orogens. Geological field work will be conducted in selected localities in the Western Gneiss Region (Scandinavian Caledonides), Bohemian Massif (Variscan orogeny) and the Alpine orogeny in order to collect suitable samples. Detailed petrological and geochemical analyses on minerals and inclusions will be performed to determine the volatiles distribution and concentration. Thermodynamic modelling and mass balance calculations will be carried out to determine the flux of elements in the different orogens and quantify the storage of volatiles within the single orogenic event and throughout most of the Phanerozoic. The results of this project will contribute to the global understanding of carbon and halogens behavior, their mobilization, their deep cycles and their storage in the mantle.

2023-2025 co-funded National Science Centre Poland and European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 945339, Project POLONEZ BIS 1 no 2021/43/P/ST10/03202 – PI Alessia Borghini

Total budget: 876 720 PLN

Studying quartz behavior in (ultra)high-pressure metamorphic rocks: common mineral with underappreciated potential

This project aims to advance our understanding of the behavior of SiO2 minerals in subduction zones using a novel and multidisciplinary approach. The study involves combining analytical and experimental tools, including electron and ion microprobes, Raman spectroscopy, electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), and acoustic microscopy applied to natural and experimental samples. We will run HP experiments to redefine the quartz-coesite phase transition filling the existing P-T gaps in an experimental survey of this phase boundary as well as to better understand the back reaction of coesite to quartz. We aim to formulate a new geothermobarometric technique based solely on investigating the phenomenon of acoustic impedance in minerals. We will characterize SiO2 polymorphs using EBSD and apply QuiG-TiQ  geothermobarometers to pre-selected (U)HP metamorphic rocks from several well described type-localities and experimental material. Hence, this project will substantially broaden our knowledge about the HP behavior of one of the most common constituents of the Earth’s lithosphere, namely crystalline SiO2. In turn, this newly gained knowledge will allow for easier recognition of rocks that were subjected to (U)HP metamorphism and contribute to ongoing debates on deep subduction of the continental crust. It will provide new, quantitative constraints on deeply buried crust exhumation mechanisms and rates. The obtained results can serve as a discriminant for validating the available exhumation models of deeply subducted continental crust. By completing the proposed research efforts, we should develop new thermobarometrical technique based on acoustic impedance.

2022-2025 National Science Centre Poland, Project Sonata no 2021/43/D/ST10/02305 – PI Karolina Kośmińska

Total budget: 1 194 929 PLN

Closure of the of Alpine Tethys Ocean recorded in the Pieniny Klippen Belt of the Western Carpathians

This project is targeting the most prominent mountain chain in Central Europe, namely the Carpathians. Special
attention is given to the development of a peculiar zone of limestone dominated rocky landscape in the Western
Carpathians, known as the Pieniny Klippen Belt. Apparently, this few kilometres wide and several hundred
kilometres long feature is a surface expression of much deeper structure, probably reaching down to the Earth’s
mantle. Such structures are not unique in mountain belts around the world and are referred to as sutures. They
are commonly defined as zones of juxtaposition rock complexes exotic to each other, coming from various
continental plates and often preserving a remnant of a formerly existing oceanic crust in between. Occurrence
of deeply buried and subsequently exhumed rocks (so-called high pressure rocks) in such zones is also
common. However, in the case of the Pieniny Klippen Belt not all of the aforementioned criteria are at first
glance evidently fulfilled. For example, a remnant of a previously existing oceanic crust, the crust of the paleoocean
Alpine Tethys is not preserved. High pressure rocks were also not found within the research target. On
the other hand, this zone is undoubtedly juxtaposing rock complexes characteristic for Northern Europe and
Adria province of the southern Europe, respectively. Hence, an obvious question arises whether the targeted
research object is indeed a first order suture zone and if so whether the lacking puzzle pieces are buried in
depth and/or removed by erosion and/or “lost” in some other way. Thus the main themes of our research project
are as follows: (1) imaging of the deep crust and shallow mantle within and across the Western Carpathians
using various geophysical techniques; (2) searching for remnants of the Alpine Tethys derived rocks and high
pressure rocks using multiple petrological techniques; (3) establishing robust time constraints for the formation
of the investigated suture zone using various modern geochronological methods based on multiple isotope
systems; (4) formulation of a new evolutionary model for the disappearance of the Alpine Tethys Ocean and
build-up of the Western Carpathians to make a foundation for a major change in comprehension of the
geological structure of this part of Central Europe with implications for related areas and (5) dissemination of
the obtained results within the research community and to wider public. The project includes research on the
already obtained samples and archived geophysical data followed by the main field campaigns for sampling,
structural observations and acquisition of new geophysical data. The fieldwork will be followed by laboratory
works and processing of the obtained data. The project offers a unique, integrative approach to tackle several
emerging issues for understanding the geological history of the Western Carpathians. It is an international
initiative gathering researchers from Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden in collaboration with colleagues
from Canada and the USA.

2022-2026 National Science Centre Poland, Project Opus no  2021/43/B/ST10/02312 – PI Jarek Majka

Total budget: 2 806 256 PLN

How do continents grow? The Köli Nappe Complex of the Scandinavian Caledonides as a natural laboratory for continental accretion.

This study investigates an important, but little-recognised example of Phanerozoic continental growth by accretion in a subduction-collision system in order to make a key contribution to understanding tectonic processes that lead to the formation and accretion of new continental crust. The focus of our research will be the Köli Nappe Complex (KNC) in the Scandinavian Caledonides of central and northern Sweden, where a belt of Iapetus Ocean-derived terranes is well exposed. Volcanic, intrusive and sedimentary rocks with structures and chemical compositions typical of oceanic terranes are well known in the KNC. Hence this region makes an excellent natural laboratory upon which to study the origins of oceanic rocks that have accreted to a continental margin.
The core aim of our proposed investigation is, to apply such methods in a systematic way in order to determine the origins of the oceanic terranes and the time-sequence of their evolution and accretion. In order to trace the history of the growth of Baltica, we try to answer the following questions: What can the KNC rocks tell us about the processes within the Earth by which they originated and interacted with the continents? Do they represent island arcs? Volcanic chains on the borders of continents? Fragments of continents? When were they created? To answer these questions we will mainly focus on the igneous rocks, which are the primary type of rock material contributing to crustal growth.

2022-2025 National Science Centre Poland, Project Opus no 2021/41/B/ST10/03679 – PI Katarzyna Walczak

Total budget: 676 246 PLN

Tectonic evolution of oceanic terranes in Iapetus: A petrochronological approach in the Northern Swedish Caledonides

This study investigates the mineral chemistry, petrology and inclusion mineralogy of different types of eclogite from the This project aims to investigate the metamorphic and tectonic evolution of the outboard terranes within the Neoproterozoic to Palaeozoic Iapetus Ocean, which today are exposed in the rocks of the Koli Nappe Complex within the Scandinavian Caledonides. The focus of the study will be the North Swedish Caledonides, in particular the Padjelanta region of Norrbotten. Detailed field investigations in this area will be followed by combined mineral-chemical and isotopic analyses of the acquired samples. P-T conditions of successive fabric generations will be quantified and combined with the application of petrochronological techniques to determine the absolute timing of metamorphic and deformational episodes. The subsequent increased understanding of the tectonic and thermal history of the region hope to make a valuable contribution towards developing tectonic models of the Caledonian Orogenic Belt, and thus will provide insights into the evolution of oceanic terranes within orogenic belts globally.

2022-2024 National Science Centre Poland, Project Preludium no 2021/41/N/ST10/04298 – PI Isabel Carter

Total budget: 139 934 PLN

Advancing in-situ white mica 40Ar/39Ar and Rb-Sr geochronology as tools to resolve tectonic processes

This study investigates the mineral chemistry, petrology and inclusion mineralogy of different types of eclogite from the This project aims to investigate the metamorphic and tectonic evolution of the outboard terranes within the Neoproterozoic to Palaeozoic Iapetus Ocean, which today are exposed in the rocks of the Koli Nappe Complex within the ScWhite mica is ubiquitous in metamorphic rocks and often defines rock structure. Tectonic histories of rocks within crustal depths can be exploited using white mica 40Ar/39Ar and Rb-Sr geochronological techniques. This project aims to utilize these techniques on white mica in situ to advance the understanding of how these geochronological systems comparatively respond to cooling, metamorphism, deformation, fluids, and intrinsic rock characteristics. Carefully designed case studies are being developed and tested using rocks from two natural laboratories: 1) the Seve Nappe Complex in the Scandinavian Caledonides; and 2) the Cycladic Blueschist Unit in the Greek Hellenides. The results of this project will promote the functionality of in-situ white mica 40Ar/39Ar and Rb-Sr geochronology and demonstrate how to apply these techniques to rocks in complex tectonic settings.

2021-2024 National Science Centre Poland, Project Sonatina no 2021/40/C/ST10/00264 – PI Christopher J. Barnes

Total budget: 688 537 PLN

UHP obliterated? The evolution of eclogite in and in between UHP areas, W Norway

This study investigates the mineral chemistry, petrology and inclusion mineralogy of different types of eclogite from the Western Gneiss Region (WGR), Norway in a spatial context. WGR eclogites typically occur in and in between areas of ultra-high pressure (UHP) metamorphism, which leads to ambiguity on the mechanisms applicable to have exhumed the high grade rocks. New data is expected to constrain (1) the metamorphic and spatial extents to which UHP and HP eclogites have a shared evolution, (2) if HP eclogites differ among each other depending on its occurrence within or in between UHP areas and (3) the preconditions required for the preservation of UHP eclogite. The working hypothesis is that many HP eclogites may have lost its former UHP metamorphic record. This project intends to localise the areas in which eclogites were most affected by retrogression.

2021-2023 Norway Grants operated by National Science Centre, Poland, project POLS no 2020/37/K/ST10/02784 – PI D. Spengler

Total budget: 870 250 PLN

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A lithospheric mantle perspective on the Caledonian Wilson cycle – petrological and geochemical record from ultramafic rocks of the Köli and Seve Nappe Complexes, Scandinavian Caledonides

The central segment of the Scandinavian Caledonides is abundant in fragments of mantle rocks emplaced within the Seve Nappe Complex (SNC) and the Köli Nappe Complex (KNC). While the metamorphic aspect of (mostly garnet) peridotites within the Seve Nappe Complex is already well-recognized, other ultramafic rocks within the central part of the orogen (spinel peridotites, serpentinites, pyroxenites) were not an object of collective, detailed „igneous” study. This project focuses on a qualitative and quantitative study of the ultramafics within KNC and SNC to shed new light on their origin, evolution, and meaning in the large-scale interpretation of the complexes and the Scandinavian Caledonides as a whole.

2020-2024 National Science Centre, Poland, project Preludium no 2019/35/N/ST10/00519 – PI Daniel Buczko

Total budget: 209 904 PLN

The timing of Iapetus opening and its implications for understanding the break-up of Rodinia and evolution of Baltica

It is widely accepted that the Iapetus Ocean opened in the latest Neoproterozoic, but the exact timing of this event is still debated. Nearly all evidence for such timing and reasoning about it are based on geochronological data obtained from mafic igneous rocks and their contact aureoles. However, the question arises whether the timing of this voluminous igneous activity is indeed representative for true opening of the Iapetus. If so, do we have a stratigraphic record of this event? Even more importantly, what was the role and where was located the centre of the mantle plume that was supposed to contribute to the Iapetus opening process ? To answer these questions, we propose to focus on the Neoproterozoic to Cambrian evolution of Baltica and possible peri-Baltican terranes.

2020-2024 National Science Centre, Poland, project Opus no 2019/33/B/ST10/01728 – PI J.Majka

Total budget: 1 302 840 PLN

High-pressure brittle failure of Tsäkkok eclogites (Scandinavian Caledonides) – interplay between dehydration and subduction zone seismicity

In this project, we study eclogites from the Tsäkkok Tectonic Lens (TTL) located above an Arctic Circle in Norrbotten, Sweden. The TTL represents a pre-Caledonian volcano-sedimentary succession that was buried at an exceptionally cold subduction zone prior to the final collision, metamorphosed and dehydrated at eclogite-facies conditions. The project employs a multimethod approach in order to (1) characterize microstructures that form during continuous and/or periodic fluid release events at high-pressure conditions and (2) constrain a distribution and composition, as well as the geochemical signature of released fluids. All in all, collected data will be compared to seismological observables to evaluate if the reconstructed mechanisms and fluid-release events match the seismic record in active subduction zones.

2020-2021 National Science Centre, Poland, project Preludium no 2019/33/N/ST10/01479 – PI M.Bukała

Total budget: 69 485 PLN

From deep subduction to the Earth’s surface: a thermochronological study of the allochthonous and parautochthonous units from the central Scandinavian Caledonides

In this project, we try to understand how and when the deeply subducted, HP-UHP allochthonous units have been exhumed to crustal levels and juxtaposed with the underlying lower grade nappes. The thermochronological data will serve as a reference for validating available models of exhumation of deeply subducted continental crust.
There are two main aims of the project: (1) to derive the very first comprehensive thermochronological data set for the high- and ultra-high pressure (HP-UHP) lithologies of the Middle Allochthon cropping out in the Swedish part of the Scandinavian Caledonides; and (2) to define the character and age of the deformation in the basement of Baltica and its relationship to the thrust tectonics in the nappes above.

2018-2022 National Science Centre, Poland, project Opus no 2018/29/B/ST10/02315 – PI I.Klonowska

Total budget: 1 635 386 PLN

Caledonian subduction along the Baltoscandian margin (CALSUB)

This project focuses on the subduction history of the Baltoscnadian margin of the continent Baltica and, in particular on the continent-arc collision that occurred in the Ordovician during closure of the Iapetus Ocean, prior to Baltica-Laurentia collision. This long process of ocean-closure may have involved a sequence of subduction-eduction events.
The overall goal is to get a broad understanding of the complexity of long-lasting collisional orogeny and apply this knowledge to the other such orogens, including Himalaya-Tibet.

2016-2021 National Science Centre, Poland, project SonataBis no 2014/14/E/ST10/00321 – PI J.Majka

Total budget: 1 585 000 PLN

Neoproterozoic Arctic Connection (NAC): is southwestern Svalbard a counterpart to the Pearya Terrane?

The overall goal of this project is to define a comprehensive model for the tectonothermal evolution of Caledonian basement in southwestern Svalbard that can be reliably compared with that of Pearya. However, the current state of knowledge about the basement of southwestern Svalbard is not sufficient to formulate conclusive arguments for its similarity, or dissimilarity, to the Pearya Terrane, or any other area in the Arctic. Several crucial petrological, geochronological and structural data are still lacking from southwestern Svalbard. Obtaining new data from southwestern Svalbard will allow for correlation of various local basement units that have been so far studied in isolation. Integrated interpretation and characterization of diagnostic features will lead to a coherent tectonic evolution model for the region and, allow for a test of existing and development of new trans-Arctic correlations. The results of this project will significantly improve our understanding of Svalbard’s Caledonides and the relationship of their structure to continental-scale tectonic processes which are the topics of ongoing international discussion.

2015-2019 National Science Centre, Poland, project Opus no 2015/17/B/ST10/03114 – PI J.Majka

Total budget: 590 040 PLN

Meso-neoproterozoic evolution of the Caledonian basement of SW Svalbard

The project focus on the medium- to high-grade rocks cropping out within the Southwestern Basement Province of Svalbard (SBP). The performed research delivered information on pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions under which the investigated rock units have been formed as well as about the timing of their formation. The main achievements of the project were: (1) recognition of low temperature-high pressure metamorphism within the Berzeliuseggene unit of Wedel Jarlsberg Land (WJL); (2) quantification of P-T conditions of metamorphism of the rock units metamorphosed during the Torellian Orogeny (Isbjørnhamna Group of WJL, unnamed unit on Sørkapp and Berzeliuseggene unit); (3) calculation of the geothermal gradient along which the subduction related Vestgötabreen Complex of Oscar II Land has been formed; (4) dating of the collision between southwestern Svalbard and an island arc during the Caledonian Orogeny to c. 485 Ma; (5) recognition and detailed characterization of the previously unknown Ellesmerian (c. 360 Ma) metamorphism within the basement mapped as Caledonian. All these quantitative pressure-temperature-time (P-T-t) data helped to broaden the understanding of the complicated geological evolution of the SBP and to realize that majority of those units have been metamorphosed during the Torellian Orogeny and then subsequently during the Caledonian Orogeny. The only exceptions are the high pressure rocks with clear oceanic affinity that underwent only Caledonian subduction-related metamorphism. Nevertheless based on the obtained P-T-t trajectories, it is proposed here that vast majority of the medium- to high-grade rocks of the SBP share similar metamorphic history. This allows to look at the scattered occurrences of these units as at the puzzle pieces that can be merged together to unravel the architecture of the pre-Caledonian southwestern Svalbard margin. Hence, it is now possible to compare the SBP to both paleocontinents Laurentia and Baltica and decide whether the SBP is a part of one or another. The latter has implications for paleogeographical reconstructions, thus also e.g. for distribution of mineral resources. A completely novel and surprising outcome of the project is the aforementioned discovery of the Ellesmerian metamorphic units on the island of Prins Karls Forland. A tentative tectonic model resulting from this project suggests the existence of the post-Caledonian suture between the SBP and the Franklinian Margin of Laurentia, a feature that provides the very first, strong line of evidence for connection between the SBP and the terranes on the NW Passage including the Pearya Terrane of northern Ellesmere Island.  

2014-2017 National Science Centre, Poland, project Preludium no 2013/11/N/ST10/00357 – PI K.Kośmińska

Total budget: 139 874 PLN