A fully funded 4-year PhD Position (UAiPhD) at Uni Adelaide with a 6-month industry placement: New PhD Project on Cu and S isotopes in regolith applied to mineral exploration in Australia

Salary per year: $38,092 AUD
Duration: 4 years
Application close: 31 August 2020
Eligibility: Open to all applicants, including Australian and international students

UAiPhD Project 2021-2025: Tracing subsurface ore deposits through the isotope analysis of regolith/cover in Australia: Coupled Cu and S isotope approach applied to a rock-soil-water-plant system

Many base metals and critical mineral resources in Australia, hosted in subsurface depositional systems or basement rocks, remain still undiscovered and unexplored. This is mostly due to the fact that about 80% of the Australian continent is covered by a regolith. Thus, prospective ore deposits are predominantly located under this extensive sedimentary cover that creates a major challenge for mineral exploration, but also an excellent opportunity for future mineral discoveries. These however have to rely on novel exploration approaches and innovative analytical techniques, including metal isotopes, which might enable us to 'see through the cover' to locate those hidden subsurface metal deposits.

To address these challenges, this project aims to apply and test novel metal isotope tracers for mineral exploration, specifically stable copper (Cu) isotopes, complemented by sulfur (S) isotopes, which will be analyzed in regolith systems across Australia to 'vector' subsurface ore deposits via analysis of cover. Specifically, we plan to analyse δ65Cu and δ34S values using MC ICP MS (Thermo Neptune) and Q-ICP MS/MS (Agilent 8900) instruments in samples of rocks, soils, waters and vegetation, collected from different regolith systems developed above prospective areas in Southern Australia (SA), New South Wales (NSW) and Western Australia (WA). Such continent-wide approach, with study sites covering three different states, will in turn allow the testing of robustness and fidelity of coupled δ65Cu and δ34S tracers in regolith for mineral exploration across a wide range of geological and hydrological settings. Selected sampling areas will be linked to ongoing and future NDI (National Drilling Initiative) sampling/drilling campaigns planned in SA, NSW and WA that are coordinated via the MinEx CRC project (https://minexcrc.com.au).

The proposed UAiPhD project will utilize state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation and laboratories available at the Metal Isotope Group (MIG) facilities (https://sciences.adelaide.edu.au/physical-sciences/metal-isotope-group) at the University of Adelaide. This unique analytical setup with (i) refurbished metal-free clean laboratory, (ii) MC-ICP- MS, TIMS and Q-ICP-MS/MS instruments, and (iii) newly established Cu and S isotope methods, will allow a PhD student to perform an efficient and high-throughput analysis of 65Cu and 34S data in a range of regolith materials.

Importantly, this UAiPhD project will provide an opportunity to work on specific industry related problems linked to mineral exploration, in collaboration with three Geological Surveys in Australia, including: GSSA (Geological Survey of South Australia, GSNSW (Geol. Survey of New South Wales) and GSWA (Geol. Survey of Western Australia). The UAiPhD project will also involve 6-month industry placement that will take place in Adelaide at GSSA, Maitland in GSNSW, and Perth in GSWA and CSIRO, involving also industry partners from MinEx CRC.

For more information on this project and the application to UAiPhD Program see the link below: https://scholarships.adelaide.edu.au/Scholarships/postgraduate-research/all-faculties/uaiphd-tracing-subsurface-ore-deposits-through

IMPORTANT NOTE: The above link is only for domestic (Australian) and international (onshore) students who are currently already in Australia, but overseas (offshore) international students who are interested to apply, please contact directly the UAiPhD project's supervisor Dr. Juraj Farkas: juraj.farkas@adelaide.edu.au, by August 31st, 2020; providing your CV and a brief motivation letter. Note that the anticipated start of the project is Jan, 2021.

posted: 03 August 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.