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Untapped potential: How did the Mount Gunson sediment-hosted Cu deposits form?

Research the origin of deposits which produced over a billion dollars' worth of copper, silver and cobalt.

The sediment-hosted copper deposits at Mount Gunson, SA, have produced over a billion dollars’ worth of Cu, Ag and Co metal. Spectacular sulphide ore, dominantly composed of chalcocite, bornite and chalcopyrite (Figure 1) is hosted in un-metamorphosed neo-proterozoic sandstones and shales of the Stuart Shelf.

Despite the significant exploration potential for further discovery, surprisingly little work has been conducted on the deposits and very little is known about the origins of the mineralising fluids, or even the age of the mineralisation. Additionally, the deposits have strong potential for critical metals such as Ga and Ge. These strategic metals are increasingly becoming the focus of the mineral exploration industry and are pivotal to future technologies.

This project will determine the spectacular mineral paragenesis and collect trace element and isotopic data of the ore and coeval gangue minerals with the goal of determining the fluid sources and fluid compositions that drove mineralisation. We will use novel micro geochronologic methods to determine the timing of the fluid flow events that lead to Cu mineralisation and update the ore deposit model for application to future exploration programs.

Historical samples and thin sections will be used as well as the collection of new samples during fieldwork and from existing exploration drill holes. In this project, you will work with the Geological Survey of South Australia and an industry partner (TBC) seeking to untap the potential of South Australian sedimentary hosted Cu.

Dr Martin Hand


Professor Martin Hand, Dr Richard Lilly and Associate Professor Carl Spandler

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

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Geology

Tagged in Honours projects - Geology, Honours Projects - Martin Hand, Honours projects - Richard Lilly, Honours projects - Carl Spandler

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