Rare metal ore potential of the Tertiary Peak Ranges volcanics, Central QLD
Unravel the geological origins of unusual volcanic systems and their associated rare metal mineralisation in central QLD.
Globally, peralkaline igneous complexes host significant REE, Zr, Nb, Hf, and Ta resources. The Cenozoic alkaline volcanic complexes of eastern Australia represent prospective targets for this mineralization type, yet to date there has been very little evaluation of the ore potential of these volcanic rocks.
Preliminary geological work on the ca. 29 Ma southern Peaks Ranges, central QLD, has identified several large (~0.1 km3) peralkaline rhyolite domes as having consistent ore element concentrations of ~0.6 % ZrO2 and ~0.15 % REE. This area is now the subject of active exploration by NorthX Ltd, but there remain many open questions regarding how these domes reached their high rare metal contents, or whether higher grade mineralization may be found.
This honours project will combine field mapping and sample collection, petrological investigation of volcanic samples, and detailed characterization of igneous and hydrothermal mineral assemblages (potentially with isotopic work to track magma and metal sources) with the objective of developing a better understanding of how rare metals behave in evolving perakaline magmatic systems, and how they are mobilized and concentrated by subsequent hydrothermal processes.
This work will not only lead to a better understanding of the ore potential of the Peak Ranges, but will also contribute to understanding how critical metals form economic orebodies across the globe.