I love working with science projects that involve the whole spectrum of discovering something new to making findings relevant and useful to communities. My previous projects allowed me to use geology and geophysics to help coastal states draw their continental shelf boundaries under UNCLOS, which determine how far offshore they can explore and utilize resources on and beneath the seafloor. In the GNG programme, I will help delineate New Zealand’s supercritical geothermal resources using magnetics as one of the tools.
I like studying the varied forms and shapes (geomorphology) of land and undersea features and their rock compositions because they help us understand the processes that formed them. However, they give us a limited surficial view. That’s why I apply geophysical methods, like gravity, magnetics and seismics, to provide a picture of what the subsurface possibly looks like. By analysing their signatures, we are able to deduce if there are buried features of interest like volcanoes, faults, ore deposits, fluids or cavities. These are cost effective exploration tools that help point to best sites for drilling.
Benham Rise unveiled: Morphology and structure of an Eocene large igneous province in the West Philippine Basin, Marine Geology, Volume 419, 2020, 106052, ISSN0025-3227.
What was the research finding?
We found that the undersea feature Benham Rise, located east of the Philippines, is a large igneous province with a crest having the morphology of a caldera that is~150 km in diameter. Due to its enormous size, we named it Apolaki (“giant lord”) after the Filipino mythical god of the sun and war.
Why is it important?
Large igneous provinces (or LIPs) are associated with regional or global environmental changes, such as extinction events and breakup of continents, because their formation involves massive magma volumes spanning tens of millions of years. If Benham Rise’s crest is indeed a caldera, it would be the largest in the world and implies an equally gigantic magma chamber underneath. Further studies are necessary to understand the processes that formed the rise and its possible impacts on local and regional environments, particularly in the Eocene and Oligocene. A deep penetrating 2D multichannel seismic reflection survey complemented by gravity and magnetic studies would help verify the existence of the caldera and associated structures and would also provide insight into magma chamber dimension and geometry.
Where are you?
I was in Calauit, a very small island (<4000 hectares) in the Philippines, which the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, turned into a sort of “African safari” in the 1970s that led to the eviction of Tagbanwa indigenous peoples. After the the EDSA People Power in 1986 that ousted Marcos, the tribes people came back to resettle and tried to co-exist with the translocated African animals.
What are you doing?
In 2006, I volunteered to help map the extent of ancestral land that tribes wanted to reclaim. It was exciting to encounter the animals during fieldwork, but equally sad because they foraged through vegetation unnatural to them like ‘talahib’ grass with razor-sharp leaves and bamboo that cut and bruise their skin.