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International Ocean Discovery Program
Expedition 395 Scientific Prospectus

Reykjanes Mantle Convection and Climate: Mantle Dynamics, Paleoceanography and Climate Evolution in the North Atlantic Ocean1

Ross Parnell-Turner

Co-Chief Scientist

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego


Anne Briais

Co-Chief Scientist

Geosciences Environnement Toulouse (CNRS)

Université de Toulouse


Leah LeVay

Expedition Project Manager/Staff Scientist

International Ocean Discovery Program

Texas A&M University


Published June 2020

See the full publication in PDF.


The intersection between the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Iceland hotspot provides a natural laboratory where the composition and dynamics of Earth’s upper mantle can be observed. Plume-ridge interaction drives variations in the melting regime, which result in a range of crustal types, including a series of V-shaped ridges (VSRs) and V-shaped troughs (VSTs) south of Iceland. Time-dependent mantle upwelling beneath Iceland dynamically supports regional bathymetry and leads to changes in the height of oceanic gateways, which in turn control the flow of deep water on geologic timescales. Expedition 395 has three objectives: (1) to test contrasting hypotheses for the formation of VSRs, (2) to understand temporal changes in ocean circulation and explore connections with plume activity, and (3) to reconstruct the evolving chemistry of hydrothermal fluids with increasing crustal age and varying sediment thickness and crustal architecture. This expedition will recover basaltic samples from crust that is blanketed by thick sediments and is thus inaccessible when using dredging. Major, trace, and isotope geochemistry of basalts will allow us to observe spatial and temporal variations in mantle melting processes. We will test the hypothesis that the Iceland plume thermally pulses on two timescales (5–10 and ~30 Ma), leading to fundamental changes in crustal architecture. This idea will be tested against alternative hypotheses involving propagating rifts and buoyant mantle upwelling. Millennial-scale paleoclimate records are contained in rapidly accumulated sediments of contourite drifts in this region. The accumulation rate of these sediments is a proxy for current strength, which is moderated by dynamic support of oceanic gateways such as the Greenland-Scotland Ridge. These sediments also provide constraints for climatic events including Pliocene warmth, the onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciation, and abrupt Late Pleistocene climate change. Our combined approach will explore relationships between deep Earth processes, ocean circulation, and climate. Our objectives will be addressed by recovering sedimentary and basaltic cores, and we plan to penetrate ~130 m into igneous basement at five sites east of Reykjanes Ridge. Four sites intersect VSR/VST pairs, one of which coincides with Björn drift. A fifth site is located over 32.4 My old oceanic crust that is devoid of V-shaped features. This site was chosen because it intersects Oligocene–Miocene sediments of Gardar drift. Recovered sediments and basalts will provide a major advance in our understanding of mantle dynamics and the linked nature of Earth’s interior, oceans, and climate.

1Parnell-Turner, R., Briais, A., and LeVay, L., 2020. Expedition 395 Scientific Prospectus: Reykjanes Mantle Convection and Climate. International Ocean Discovery Program.

This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.