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Anne Virnes

PhD student
School of Earth Sciences - Centre for Exploration Targeting

Contact details

Robert Street Building - Room 207
Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET)
School of Earth Sciences
The University of Western Australia (M006)
35 Stirling Highway


I graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Geology-Geoscience. I continued straight away with a Master’s in Economic Geology from Oulu Mining School, University of Oulu, which I finished in 2016. My master’s research brought me to south east Greenland in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Danmark and Greenland, GEUS, where I focused on magmatic Ni-Cu mineral potential mapping of a mafic-intermediate intrusion in the Tasiilaq area. Since then I worked for three years as a mine geologist in the Renström Zn-Pb-Cu-Au-Ag VMS mine in northern Sweden, one of Europe’s deepest underground mines, owned by Boliden Mineral AB. At the end of September 2019 I moved to Perth to commence my PhD studies at the CET.

My research interests are in understanding ore systems and developing tools to be used by exploration companies to enhance the success rate of new discoveries. My research at the CET focuses on understanding camp-scale crustal architecture and its effect on the channelisation of komatiite lava and Ni-Cu-PGE ore deposition. Komatiite-hosted Ni-ores themselves have a very small footprint (up to 500 m) using flow facies analysis, geochemical exploration tools, etc., and are thus very difficult to target on a district and camp scale. A well-known fact of komatiite Ni-ore formation is, however, that external sulfur is essential for the super-hot and S-undersaturated komatiite lava to form an ore deposit. So instead of studying the komatiites themselves, my research will focus on understanding the formation and architecture of the volcano-sedimentary basin rocks underlying komatiites, and the distribution of sedimentary/volcanogenic sulfur within them. The study will focus on the Agnew-Wiluna greenstone belt, which hosts the world-class Perseverance and Mount Keith komatiite Ni-deposits. The research will include physical volcanic and lithofacies analysis, structural geology, geochronology, as well as stable and radiogenic isotope analysis of the sulfide-bearing volcanic-volcanoclastic rocks onto/into which the komatiites where emplaced. The results will provide new knowledge about the formation of the Agnew-Wiluna greenstone belt in the northern part of the Kalgoorlie Terrane, widen the camp-scale footprint of komatiite-hosted Ni-Cu-PGE deposits and potentially provide new ways to target high-grade Ni-ores.