After Hawaii and Iceland, the third largest oceanic island is the Kerguelen Archipelago. The origins of this island and the associated giant oceanic plateau, which is greater than 15 million km3, have been debated by the geological community for many years. The Kerguelen mantle plume has been active for the past 120 million years (e.g., Frey et al., 2002).
From 1997 – 2002, Dominique led a multi-national project on the study of this mantle plume and has published over 40 papers on the topic. Her primary contribution to this project has been the determination of the geochemical source characteristics and their evolution with time and tectonic settings. The results have allowed for quantitative modeling of the continental crustal contamination in Elan Bank among other Cretaceous plateau sites during the early stages of continental break-up (Weis et al., 2001; Ingle et al., 2002). The results have also led to the ability to model the relative proportion of the depleted mantle component in the basalts (Weis and Frey, 2002). In addition, her work defines the enriched component of the Kerguelen mantle plume (EM-I end-member) and demonstrates the absence of any continental component in the basalts on the archipelago (<34 Ma). These results are particularly important, in terms of overall mantle dynamics, by connecting EM-I and the African low-velocity zone (Weis et al., 2011).
We now have a better idea of the isotopic characteristics of the other major EM-I mantle plumes and the data puts constraints on the composition of the large low shear velocity provinces under Africa and under the Pacific.
Studies have expanded to other large igneous provinces (Wrangellia: Greene et al., 2008, 2009 a&b and Caribbean: Escuder-Viruete et al., 2006, 2007) and other hotspot tracks to further the constraints on the modes of formation and mantle sources of these major Earth’s features.