Trace Elements, Accessory Minerals and Magmas

High pressures and temperatures turn solid rock into molten rock (magma). There is still a lot to be discovered about the nature of those intense environmental conditions, and of how the magmas evolve to form the floors of oceans, the roots of mountains and deposits of valuable metals and minerals. This work focuses on alkaline basalts and syenites, rocks that are formed from very rare magmas that have a high alkalinity. These rocks are an environmental record of melting at various depths within Earth's crust. During their evolution, they sometimes form exotic and economic deposits of rare metals (e.g., niobium, zirconium, thorium and rare-earth elements). Studies concentrating on the chemistry of these minerals allow us to trace the evolution of their hosts, and to develop tools and models to determine how these elements behave during the generation and evolution of these strange and rare alkaline magmas.

Principal investigator: Paula Piilonen.