- Start Date:
- 1 Jan 2019
- End Date:
- 1 Jan 2022
This study aims to determine the fundamental physical processes that form finger-like magma conduits, which trap and concentrate sulfide liquids enriched in highly valuable nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), and platinum group elements (PGE). Together with their traditional use in the manufacture of steel and alloy products, nickel and cobalt have newly acquired strategic importance for their use in next-generation batteries.
Recently, it has become evident that the ore bodies that contain economic concentrations of these metal-rich sulfides occur in poorly- understood narrow, elongate finger-like magma conduits , which represent challenging but very valuable exploration targets. Determining the genesis of these conduits would 1) advance knowledge on magma transport mechanisms through the Earth’s lithosphere, and 2) boost predictive capacity to discover new deposits (Fig. 1). We aim to establish the spatial and genetic link between magma transport dynamics and Ni-Cu-Co-PGE ores through an innovative integration of ultra-high-resolution outcrop surveys and three-dimensional (3D) seismic reflection data interpretation with laboratory experiments and rock fracture mechanics simulations.
It is expected that the project outcomes will lay the foundations required to develop much-needed new exploration tools for the discovery of elusive Ni-Cu-Co-PGE ore bodies, addressing a rapidly increasing demand and helping to secure Australia’s global role as a supplier of these strategic commodities.
Funding Agencies: ARC (DP190102422)