Laura Mackay
PhD Research Student

Research Profile

The aim of my research project is to constrain the temporal and spatial variation of mantle convection by quantifying the way in which it influences the physiography of the Earth's surface. Mantle convection induces topography at the surface of the Earth. How this dynamically-supported topography varies with time can be used as a proxy to quantify the amplitude, wavelength and rate of change of convection patterns in the mantle.

The post-rift subsidence pattern of a basin can be predicted from its syn-rift history. If there are discrepancies between the predicted and observed subsidence curves, it can be inferred that processes other than lithospheric stretching have acted on the basin. Discrepancies due to regional dynamic uplift can be isolated from other possible mechanisms enabling anomalous subsidence to be used as a measure of dynamic topography.

One of the aims of my research is to extract the amplitude, wavelength and timing of residual subsidence anomalies from the region surrounding the Iceland Plume during the Cenozoic. The area of interest includes the Moray Firth Basin, Northern North Sea, Norway, Svalbard, Greenland, Sverdrup Basin and Labrador Shelf. By correlating subsidence anomalies between regions, changes in dynamic support can be used to place constraints on how mantle convection has varied over geological time. This information can be input in to numerical experiments of convection models.


University of Cambridge: 2001-
PhD Title: "The link between mantle convection and subsidence histories in the Northern Hemisphere."
Supervisor: Nicky White

University of Sydney: 2000-2001
Worked for Department of Geology and Geophysics

University of Cambridge: 1995-1999
BA/MSci Geological Sciences
MSci research project title: "Subsidence Analysis of African Sedimentary Basins"


  1. H.L. Walford, L.M. Mackay & N.J. White (2003?) Subsidence analysis of African Sedimentary Basins. Submitted to Tectonics