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Albitite metasomatism and links to copper mineralisation: A case study from the Mt Lofty Ranges

Work with industry to help understand the link between metasomatism, intrusive magmatism and copper mineralisation in the Adelaide Hills.

Landscape Paleogeography

Garnet-andalusite schist partly replaced by albite (bleached zone) from the Kanmantoo mine (Hillgrove Resources).

The metasedimentary sequences of the southern Mt Lofty Ranges are highly prospective for base-metal mineralisation, as best demonstrated by the Kanmantoo Copper deposit that has been mined intermittently for more than 150 years.

Key to developing effective approaches to exploration is a coherent understanding of the origins of mineralisation. However, a number of incompatible models for the origin of mineralisation in the Mt Lofty Ranges have been proposed, including syn-genetic (syn-sedimentary) and post-metamorphic, intrusion-related mineralisation.

Albitites––albite-rich rocks formed by sodic metasomatism––have been recognized across the Mt Lofty Ranges, but particularly in close vicinity to Kanmantoo (see Figure). As well as albite, these rocks may also contain rutile, tourmaline, pyrite and/or magnetite. Albitites have been recognized globally to be associated with large copper deposits (e.g., IOCG systems) and therefore may hold vital clues to the origin of mineralisation at Kanmantoo.

This industry-supported (Hillgrove Resources) honours project will investigate the origin of albitites in the Mt Lofty Ranges using a combination of targeted field mapping, detailed petrography (using both petrographic microscope and electron microprobe), major and trace element mineral chemistry, metasomatic alteration modeling, and, potentially, geochronology (if suitable samples are found). New information gleaned from this study will directly aid understanding of the origins of base metal mineralisation, which will also assist mineral exploration efforts in the region.

Carl Spandler


Associate Professor Carl Spandler, Dr Laura Morrissey, Dr Lucy McGee and Peter Rolley

Research area: Mineral and energy systems, Tectonics and solid earth processes

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Geology

Tagged in Honours projects - Geology, Honours projects - Carl Spandler, Honours Projects - Lucy McGee, Honours projects - Laura Morrissey

Competition: Young Scientist of the Year

How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we save our wildlife from extinction? Got an idea that will build a brighter, greener world?

Australian high school students are invited to submit a short video about one of Australia’s big science challenges.

Video competition