The 2017 Division Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award is awarded to Nicolas Flament for his contribution to understanding global mantle dynamics by combining geodynamic and seismic models with geological data and field observations.
Nicolas Flament is an unusually broad and talented young scientist. His research focuses on the role that deep-Earth processes have on the evolution of Earth’s surface. His approach of iterating between geodynamic models, data analysis, and the synthesis of regional observations, has allowed him to identify key geodynamic processes as he builds an unusually strong foundation to his career.
Flamet’s PhD work challenged conventional wisdom and demonstrated his innate creativity. As a PhD student at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France, his research challenged the uniformitarian and consensus view that sea level remained relatively constant throughout Earth’s history. While investigating the geological record and the geodynamic consequences of a hotter mantle early in Earth’s history, he proposed that the planet was closer to a water world for the first half of its history. By focusing on strontium isotopes, Flament investigated the consequences of continental emergence on the evolution of ocean composition and proposed a solution to a long-standing debate on crustal growth: Although continents were extracted from the Earth’s mantle early, their geochemical fingerprints only appeared in the oceans when the continents emerged, half-way through the planet’s history.
After his PhD, he joined the University of Sydney where he has been testing global models of plate kinematics and spherical mantle convection with a wide range of observations. He lead the first study that linked global flow models with continental stretching and demonstrated the role that deep mantle flow could have on passive margin evolution.
Recently, Flament has completed an unusually innovative study on the seismic anomaly at the core mantle boundary, the so-called ‘Perm’ anomaly, and how it could have arisen from a confined ring of subduction hundreds of millions of years ago while translating thousands of kilometres laterally. This work has challenged an essentially static view of seismic anomalies in the deep mantle now in vogue and advanced by geologists.
Nicolas Flament is a creative and talented young scientist who is using geodynamics to better understand the first order controls on geological processes and is an ideal candidate for the EGU Geodynamics Division Early Career Scientist Award.