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Award detailsTrace-element geochemistry for regional mapping of Lithium prospectivity in Ireland - Mining and Minerals PhD Studentship (NERC GW4+ DTP funded) Ref: 4020

College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Dr K Moore , Dr B Williamson Friday, January 08, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus five Research Organisation partners: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see http://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/

Project Background
Lithium (Li) is a strategic commodity for the green energy transition, particularly for the production of batteries for the low carbon transport fleet. Li-pegmatites of the Leinster granite of SE Ireland have excited interest as a potential (spodumene) resource for more than 4 decades and there is active exploration for Li across Ireland. Tellus is an open-access, cross-border geological and geophysical dataset that has revealed multiple positive Li anomalies in Northern Ireland. The Newry Complex for example has Li anomalies and a similar age and style to the very prospective Leinster granite, and there are enigmatic Li anomalies in and around the Midland Valley Terrane1. The Tellus dataset now extends into Counties Donegal, Mayo and Galway and includes geochemical data for soils and streams overlying multiple granitoids such that there is potential to investigate the occurrence of Li in a wider context. Increased understanding of the controls on Li distribution across these regions and further development of geomodels for granite- and pegmatite-hosted Li deposits will be crucial in exploration and for any future production in Northern Ireland of Li-based materials strategic to net-zero policies.

Project Aims and Methods
The successful PhD candidate will modify a methodology for interrogating critical metal potential using Tellus data2 in order to investigate and understand the sources of Li anomalies. They will extend the dataset by sampling rocks and also stream waters which, in Ireland3, have been shown to have elevated Li concentrations where they have interacted with certain pegmatites 4 The
student will identify Li anomalies, using the enhanced methodology and dataset, and from thisplan their bedrock sampling sites. The magmatic and magmatic-hydrothermal petrogenesis of Li-enriched lithologies will be constrained using petrographic, electron microbeam and wet chemical techniques. The student will discuss their results in terms of the evolution of igneous complexeswith special reference to the different tectonic contexts of granitoid emplacement in Northern Ireland. They will further constrain the best route for developing enhanced geomodels for Li exploration.

NERC GW4+ DTP studentships are open to UK and Irish nationals who, if successful in their applications, will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate.

A limited number of full studentships are also available to international students which are defined as EU (excluding Irish nationals), EEA, Swiss and all other non-UK nationals.

Studentships for international students will only cover fees at the UK home fees rate. However, university tuition fees for international students are higher than the UK home fees rate therefore the difference will need to be funded from a separate source which the student or project supervisor may have to find. Unfortunately, the NERC GW4+ DTP cannot fund this difference from out studentship funding Further guidance on how this will work will be issued in November.

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Funding Notes

For eligible successful applicants, the studentships comprises:

An stipend for 3.5 years (currently £15,285 p.a. for 2020-21) in line with UK Research and Innovation rates
Payment of university tuition fees;
A research budget of £11,000 for an international conference, lab, field and research expenses;
A training budget of £3,250 for specialist training courses and expenses.
Up to £750 for travel and accomodation for compulsory cohort events.

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