- Focus: To develop new exploration tools for mineral resouces by understanding the processes by which metals are concentrated in magmatic arcs.
- Funding: NERC
- Start date: 1 May 2017
- End date: 30 April 2022
The Museum is working with industrial and academic partners to develop new exploration tools that will help locate metal resources in volcanic arcs by understanding the fundamental processes involved in cycling magmas, fluids and metals in these zones.
Why do we need to look for new ore deposits?
Society is dependent on a reliable supply of metals and minerals for economic growth, improved standards of living, and development of infrastructure.
Discovering new ore deposits is increasingly difficult because most of the ores exposed at the Earth’s surface have already been found. Mineral exploration companies increasingly have to search for hidden deposits, concealed beneath up to a kilometre of barren rock.
New concepts, approaches and tools are required for the location and extraction of ores, with minimal environmental impact and financial risk to investors.
A new approach
The search for new ore deposits has to consider the 'ingredients', the processes and environments that favour their formation. Historically, most research has focused on the 'trap' in the Earth's shallow crust where the ore minerals are finally deposited.
The FAMOS project will focus deep in the Earth's crust, to probe the formation and evolution of the molten rocks (or magmas) that are ultimately responsible for some of the largest accumulations of metals on the planet. See the project approach page for more details.
Bridging the divide
The project combines a desire to understand fundamental processes about our planet works - how metals, magmas and fluids are cycled through subduction zones - with delivering outcomes that will benefit industry through improved exploration tools.
The project bridges the divide between academic and applied research in a way that is not normally possible through projects funded entirely by industry or entirely by government agencies. This bridging activity lies at the heart of the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) highlight topic funding scheme.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers has been assembled from the fields of economic geology, igneous and metamorphic petrology, volcanology, geochemistry, numerical modelling and fluid dynamics.
The project also has a diverse group of international scientific collaborators and the support of several of the world’s largest mineral exploration companies.
We are using a wealth of modern analytical tools from nine universities and research institutes around the UK that enable most of the elements in the periodic table to be measured.
Industry project partners
- Anglo American: Christian Ihlenfeld
- BHP: Cam McCuaig
- Rio Tinto: Nick Hawkes
- Doug Kirwin
- Richard Sillitoe
- Zeiss: Eddy Hill
- SRK Consulting: James Gilbertson
- Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold: Mac Canby
- Olympus: Todd Houlahan
International academic partners
Xuyang Meng, Jackie M. Kleinsasser, Jeremy P. Richards, Simon R. Tapster, Pedro J. Jugo, Adam C. Simon, Daniel J. Kontak, Laurence Robb, Grant M. Bybee, Jeffrey H. Marsh & Richard A. Stern (2021) Oxidized sulfur-rich arc magmas formed porphyry Cu deposits by 1.88 Ga Nature Communications 12, 2189 (2021)
Zhong Shihua, Li Sanzhong, Feng Chengyou, Liu Yongjiang, Santosh M., He Shuyue, Qu Hongying, Liu Guoyan, Seltmann R., Lai Zhiqing, Wang Xiaohong, Song Yingxin, Zhou Jie (2021) Porphyry copper and skarn fertility of the northern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau collisional granitoids Earth-Science Reviews 214 (2021)
Carter, L.C., Williamson, B.J., Tapster, S.R., Costa, C., Grime, G.W. & Rollinson, G.K. (2021) Crystal mush dykes as conduits for mineralising fluids in the Yerington porphyry copper district, Nevada. Communications Earth & Environment 2, 59 (2021)
Richard W. Thomas, Bernard J. Wood. (2021) The chemical behaviour of chlorine in silicate melts. Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 294 (2021)
Shihua Zhong, Sanzhong Li, Reimar Seltmann, Zhiqing Lai, Jie Zhou (2021) The influence of fractionation of REE-enriched minerals on the zircon partition coefficients. Geoscience Frontiers Volume 12, Issue 3, May 2021
Chetan L. Nathwani, Adam T. Simmons, Simon J. E. Large, Jamie J. Wilkinson, Yannick Buret, Christian Ihlenfeld (2021) From long-lived batholith construction to giant porphyry copper deposit formation: petrological and zircon chemical evolution of the Quellaveco District, Southern Peru, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology volume 176, Article number: 12 (2021)
Penny E. Wiser, Frances Jenner, Marie Edmonds, John Maclennan, Barbara Kunz (2020) Chalcophile elements track the fate of sulfur at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 282, PP245-275
Daniel Cox; Sebastian F.L. Watt; Frances E. Jenner; Alan R. Hastie; Samantha J. Hammond; Barbara E. Kunz (2020) Elevated magma fluxes deliver high-Cu magmas to the upper crust Geology, v.48 Number 10
Penny E. Wiser, Marie Edmonds, John Maclennan, Frances E. Jenner, Barbara E. Kunz (2019) Crystal scavenging from mush piles recorded by melt inclusions Nature Communications, 10, 5797
D. Konopelko, R. Seltmann, A. Dolgopolova, I. Safonova, S. Glorie, J. De Grave, M. Sun, Adakite-like granitoids of Songkultau: A relic of juvenile Cambrian arc in Kyrgyz Tien Shan, Geoscience Frontiers, Volume 12, Issue 1, Ppges 147-160, ISSN 1674-9871,
David A. Holwell, Marco Fiorentini, Iain McDonald, Yongjun Lu, Andrea Giuliani, Daniel J. Smith, Manuel Keith & Marek Locmelis (2019) A metasomatized lithospheric mantle control on the metallogenic signature of post-subduction magmatism; Nature Communications, 10, 3511
Chetan L. Nathwani, Matthew A. Loader, Jamie J. Wilkinson, Yannick Buret, Robert H. Sievwright and Pete Hollings (2020) Multi-stage arc magma evolution recorded by apatite in volcanic rocks; Geology, v.8
X-B. Zhao, Ch-J. Xue, R. Seltmann, A. Dolgopolova, J. C. Ø. Andersen, G-Zh. Zhang (2019) Volcanic-plutonic connection and associated Au-Cu mineralization of the Tulasu ore district, Western Tianshan, NW China: Implications for mineralization potential in Palaeozoic arc terranes Geological Journal Vol 55, Issue 3
Zhong, S., Feng, C., Seltmann, R., Qu, H., Song, Y. (2019); Characterisation of the zircon Ce anomaly for estimation of oxidation state of magmas: a revised Ce/Ce* method; Mineralogy and Petrology 113, Issue 6, pp755-763
Bo Zu, Reimar Seltmann, Chunji Xue, Tao Wang, Alla Dolgopolova, Chao Li, Limin Zhou, Nikolay Pak, Elena Ivleva, Mingchun Chai, Xiaobo Zhao (2019) Multiple episodes of Late Paleozoic Cu-Au mineralization in the Chatkal-Kurama terrane: New contraints from the Kuru-Tegerek and Bozymchak skarn deposits, Kyrgyzstan; Ore Geology Reviews 113
Elena Melekhova, David Schlaphorst, Jon Blundy, J.-Michael Kendall, Clare Connolly, Anders McCarthy, Richard Arculus (2019) Lateral variation in crustal structure along the Lesser Antilles arc from petrology of crustal xenoliths and seismic receiver functions; Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 516, 12-24
Zhong, S., Feng, C., Seltmann, R., Li, D., Qu, H. (2018) Can magmatic zircon be distinguished from hydrothermal zircon by trace element composition? The effect of mineral inclusions on zircon trace element composition. Lithos, 314-315, 646-657
Jackson MD, Blundy J, Sparks RSJ (2018) Chemical differentiation, cold storage and remobilization of magma in the Earth’s crust; Nature 564, 405-409
O.Y. Plotinskaya, V.D. Abramova, E.O. Groznova, S.G. Tessalina, R. Seltmann and J. Spratt (2018) Trace-element geochemistry of molybdenite from porphyry Cu deposits of the Birgilda-Tomino ore cluster (South Urals, Russia); Mineralogical Magazine 82 (2), 281-306
Olga Y. Plotinskaya,Oksana B. Azovskova,Sergei S. Abramov,Elena O. Groznova,Konstantin A. Novoselov,Reimar Seltmann,John Spratt (2018) Precious metals assemblages at the Mikheevskoe porphyry copper deposit (South Urals, Russia) as proxies of epithermal overprinting; Ore Geology Reviews 94, 239-260
B.J. Williamson, A. Imai, R. Takahashi, R.N. Armstrong, M. Hodgkinson and R.J. Herrington (2018) Testing the Plagioclase Discriminator on the GEOROC Database to Identify Porphyry-Fertile Magmatic Systems in Japan; Resource Geology, 68, 138-143
J.J. Wilkinson, D.R. Cooke, M.J. Baker, Z. Chang, C.C. Wilkinson, H. Chen, N. Fox, P. Hollings, N.C. White, J.B. Gemmell, M.A. Loader, A. Pacey, R.H. Sievwright, L.A. Hart and E.R. Brugge (2017) Porphyry indicator minerals and their mineral chemistry as vectoring and fertility tools; Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 8345
Daniel Smith gave a talk to the Essex Rock and Mineral Society on raw materials for the green transition
FAMOS researchers were involved in the online event at the Natural History Museum on Can Mining Make the World a Greener Place? 4th December 2020
Chetan Nathwani gave a live talk on the NHM YouTube channel about valuable metals and how we will depend on them for a greener future called Down the Mines.
Jamie Wilkinson published an article in The Lee Newsletter, April 2020, p. 18-20 entitled ‘A Life with minerals’.
Jamie Wilkinson, Jon Blundy, Matt Jackson and Dan Smith co-edited an article on FAMOS-related research for Futurum which produces online and print articles and outreach resources to encourage young people into STEM/STEMM/STEAM subjects.
FAMOS staff represented the project at the NHM’s flagship outreach event, European Researchers Night, at the NHM in September 2018.
FAMOS representatives got involved with School's Day at the Imperial Festival, April 2018 to demonstrate the importance of water in subduction zones and its influence on magma generation, volcanism and mineralization.
- Eighth Progress Meeting held online, 10/11 May 2021
- Elena Melekhova gave a talk at the 17th International Symposium on Experimental Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry (EMPG-XV11) in Potsdam, Germany 1-3 March 2021
- Daniel Smith gave a talk for the Essex Rock and Mineral Society on raw materials for the green transition
- Jamie Wilkinson gave a keynote talk entitled "Copper Giants: Key Resources for the Green Energy Transition and How to Find Them” at the 1st DOME General Assembly (Potsdam, Germany) – March 2021
- Article about FAMOS research in Mining.com, March 2021 on ‘Understanding how porphyry-type copper deposits are formed may lead to new resources’ "Pioneering study gives new insight into formation of copper deposits"
- Exeter news article https://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/research/title_849061_en.html - March 2021
- BGS research highlight - "Insights into the 'missing link' of how copper ore deposits form" https://www.bgs.ac.uk/news/insights-into-the-missing-link-of-how-copper-ore-deposits-form/
- Members of the FAMOS consortium attended PDAC, Feb 2021
- Members of the FAMOS consortium attended and presented at the online Mineral Deposits Study Group, 14-16th December 2020
- Members of the FAMOS consortium were involved in the online event at the Natural History Museum: Can Mining Make the World a Greener Place? 4th December 2020
- Members of the FAMOS consortium attended and presented at the online SEG Student Showcase, 2-19 November 2020
- Seventh Progress Meeting held online, 2/3 November 2020
- Sixth Progress Meeting held online, 11 May 2020
- Chetan Nathwani presented results of his Central Chile apatite study at the online EGU meeting, 4 May 2020
- Members of FAMOS consortium attended the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention in Toronto from 1-4 March 2020.
- Field sampling trip by Andrew Miles and affiliated PhD student Geoge Stonadge, Leicester University to Pinatubo, Taal and the Dizon and Santo Tomas II mines in the Philippines,Feb/March 2020.
- Members of the FAMOS consortium attended and presented at the Volcanic and Magmatic studies group annual meeting 7-9 January, University of Plymouth
- Members of the FAMOS consortium attended the Annual Winter Meeting of the Mineral Deposits Studies Group hosted by The Natural History Museum, London, 6-8 January 2020. Affiliated PhD students won prizes including Chetan Nathwani for the best talk and Emily Brugge for the best poster