Centre for Earth Sciences
Indian Institute of Science

Broad research areas at the Center for Earth Sciences include understanding petrogenesis of rocks, evolution of continents,convection within the mantle, processes at the core mantle boundary, various aspects of the Earth's magnetic field, seismotectonic processes, paleo-climate reconstruction, understanding evolution of monsoon, seasonality reconstruction and capturing the sources and sinks of atmospheric CO2.

Researchers are involved in understanding the evolution of the Indian plate and its relation to other continental masses. The jig-saw puzzles of continental fits are fine-tuned using geological, geochemical, geochronological and paleomagnetic data from India, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. Geochemical and microstructural studies of ore bearing rock formations, mapping structural fabrics in naturally occurring sedimentary formations are other areas of work. This work is facilitated by our section cutting and polishing facilities and advanced petrological laboratories equipped with microscopes, and fluid inclusion stages.

Indian subcontinent shows high seismogenic productivity, not just within the plate interior, but also along its plate boundaries. Understanding the subduction processes and recurrence of great tsunamigenic earthquakes is an active area of research at CEaS. Global seismological data and GPS-based geodetic models are used to explain the plate boundary processes. Seismic hazard associated with the Kachchh rift and parts of the Himalaya are other areas of current research.

The center is equipped with a state-of-the-art clean laboratory where samples are processed prior to element concentration and isotope ratio measurements using our ICPMS and TIMS facilities, respectively. Major, trace element geochemistry, radiogenic isotope systematics (e.g. Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd,), non-traditional stable isotopes of Ca, Mg, Si, Cr are being used to understand early Solar System processes, petrogenesis of igneous rocks provenance of ancient sediments, impact cratering, modern surface processes, paleo-seawater compositions and paleo-redox.

Various components of the interacting earth system are explored using traditional stable isotope geochemistry. Spatial and temporal variability of physical systems have large bearing on mode of interactions and we investigate their signatures that remain locked within the system. Our targets are biologically generated systems that evolve through interactions between the substrata and the environment. While the substrata remains unchanged, the environment changes from wet to dry condition both in space and time. The intensity of such processes is recorded in the isotopic ratios of carbonates, organic matter and inorganic products. Our task is to develop proxies that serve as data loggers for the reconstruction of seasonality over historical and geological time scales. Geochemical,sedimentological and stable isotope laboratories support this research goal.

The question of how much the deep Earth affects surface tectonics is still debatable. Since the early days of the modern plate tectonic theory, when the Earth’s tectonic plates were considered completely decoupled from the underlying mantle, our understanding has evolved so that we understand that convection within the mantle largely affects surface deformation. >From the formation of mountain ranges to the movement of tectonic plates, mantle dynamics has a big role to play. By using numerical modeling, supported by the computational facilities established at the Centre, we try to quantify the role of mantle convection in shaping the Earth’s surface

Understanding the origin of earth’s magnetic field and how the core mantle interactions have helped its evolution is an important area of global research. Research at CEaS uses fluid dynamical models, supported by experimental studies to simulate core-mantle processes and the generation of magnetic field. Geodynamo models are used to constrain the magnetic field of the earth as well as those of other planets in the solar system.Seismic shear wave velocities in the lower mantle, available from global seismic networks provide additional constraints on the physical state of the earth’s interior, fundamental to the functioning of the dynamo. A state-of-the-art computational facility has been set up to perform direct numerical simulations of the Earth's core.