A Geodynamic Research Team in Aix-en-Provence
The research team of Professor Le Pichon moved to the Université Paul Cézanne, Aix-Marseille III to install a new outpost of the Collège de France there in 2003. The second part of the Balzan Prize was used in part to finance new scientific equipment (a system to visualize seismic reflection data, a system to process images, a SIG and a rapid computer system). In addition, it was used to complement post doc salaries and to finance geological field work. Xavier Le Pichon highlighted two projects in which young researchers who benefited in part from the Balzan financing have been especially active:
1. The first project concerned the tectonics of the Western Gulf of Mexico and was the result of cooperation with oil companies over four years. The young researchers involved were N. Flotté, L. Husson, C. Le Roy and L. Andréani. The results of the research have been published in a special issue of the “Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France”, 179, co-published with the American Association of Petroleum Geology in 2008. The main result of the project is to have established that this continental margin, which was thought to be inactive since the Jurassic period, has been affected by active tectonics in the last 30 million years.
2. The second project concerned the geodynamics of the Provence basin. It was published as a special issue of the “Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France” 181. It was the result of research carried out in this part of France since the research team moved to Aix-en-Provence in 2003. The young researchers involved were N. Flotté, L. Husson, Y. Hamon, J.Y. Lin, L. Andréani, and N. Loget. The main result of this project is to have established that the so-called alpine tectonics is the result of en masse gravity gliding of the thick Triassic salt layer. This gliding occurred when the Alps were uplifted during the Miocene epoch.