Juliet Biggs, Co-Investigator on the RiftVolc project, has been awarded the BGA Bullerwell lecture for 2017. This is a prestigious prize awarded for outstanding contribution to Geophysics by a British scientist or a foreigner working in Britain. It has been presented each year since 1981 and is one of the principal events in the British Geophysical Association calendar. The Bullerwell lecture, named after the first Chief Geophysicist of the British Geological Survey, is a renowned event that has been given by many of those UK geophysicists who are major international Earth Scientists, receiving honours from a wide range of learned societies, academic and governmental institutions.
In October 2016, Ryan Gallacher from the University of Southampton published his thesis work on where and how the upwelling mantle is melting beneath East Africa. His paper in Nature Communications uses all available seismic data in the Horn of Africa to create an image of the upper mantle beneath Ethiopia in the depth range of around 50 to 150 km. He is able to find zones where the upwelling mantle is melting and shows that there are several separate zones along the rift where melt is forming and that regions of no or very little melting separate these. This type of “segmented” melt supply is thought to be present beneath mid-ocean ridges but this is the first time they have been seen beneath a continental rift. The implication is that the style of mantle melting seen in the oceans initiates long before seafloor spreading begins.