The research program at NordVulk is focused on volcanic processes and eruptive products, crustal structures, tectonic processes, and environmental effects of eruptions. The research is process orientated, using the Iceland region as a natural laboratory, with its unique access to a sub-aerial part of the mid-ocean ridge system.
The activities include among others seismology, structural geology, geodetic measurements of crustal deformation, geophysical studies of crustal structures, physical volcanology, petrology and geochemical studies. The research also includes studies of the distribution of volcanic products, geo and tephra chronology, morphology, water-rock geochemistry, geochemical variations within volcanic and seismic zones, environmentally related effects of volcanic eruptions, and paleoclimatology based on soil, sediment and ash profiles.
Magma generation and evolution
Research projects on geochemical and isotopic signatures of volcanic centers aim at process-oriented understanding of magma generation and segregation as well as magma mixing and shallow magma-crust interaction These evolutionary details may show up as isotopically heterogeneous mineral assemblages in contrast to homogeneous assemblages of equilibrated magma reservoirs. Projects based on microbeam studies of silicate inclusions in minerals have also revealed multiple sources of volcanic rocks.
Volcanic petrogenesis projects which study different magma sources and variation in source related trace element signatures focus on isotopic fingerprints in terms of Sr, Nd, Pb and Hf. These may reveal the contribution of the Icelandic Mantle Plume to the sources of rift-zone volcanism and the sources of alkalic off rift volcanism. Th isotope ratios of these rock suites also outline the time frame of magma generation.
Element mobility in volcanic processes and their environmental effects
Geochemical projects on hydrothermally altered volcanic rocks have revealed accumulation of elements that are degassed from magma or mobilized from crustal rocks during magma emplacement. The pre-eruptive volatile content of magma may thus depend on crustal residence as well as its origin. Sulphur, chlorine and fluorine microbeam analysis may be used to estimate the pre-eruptive volatile content of silicate inclusions in minerals. These data are used in projects on explosive eruptions and quantification of the their environmental effects.
Relationships between magma movements, crustal deformation, and seismicity
An extensive set of geophysical data on magma movements and crustal deformation collected during the last two decades, a period of high activity in the Icelandic crust, forms the basis for work in geophysics. The data includes GPS and InSAR measurements of crustal deformation associated with several eruptions, a sequence of large earthquakes, and several magmatic intrusions. These data, that have partly been analyzed, provide unprecedented possibilities to model crustal processes and interaction of events taking place in the crust.