Dr Nicoli Gautier

Magmatic intrusions are the foundations of continent building. My research concentrates on the chemical and physical properties that control magma genesis, crystallization processes and impacts on the stabilization of the Earth’s crust.

My doctoral research focused on the chemical differentiation of the continental crust with emphasis on the link between the magma, its source and the resulting intrusion. During my postdoctoral career, I have used data from my PhD to develop a method to highlight global tectonic setting changes influencing the shape of the continental landmass. The principal aim of my current research is to quantify the processes operating during the solidification of mafic intrusions in the crust (sills, dykes and lava flows) using microstructural observations and particle size distribution.

Magma forming the mafic intrusion consists of a carrier liquid and a crystal cargo originating from the mushy zone of a magma chamber. When emplaced in the crust, the mechanisms that drive crystallization of the magma are recorded in the shape and the grain size distribution through the entire thickness of the intrusion. Key development of my work includes (i) testing of parameters that control convection during magma crystallization in an entire sill population and application of this method on (ii) primitive lava flow (komatiite) and (iii) larger scale processes such as the crystallization of early magma oceans using analogue experiments.