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Low temperature, rare earth element (REE) minerals in the Welsh Basin: applying micro-analytical techniques to the study of monazite formation (CENTA2-SGGE10-ZALA)

Project Description

Large, long-lived, mud-dominated sedimentary basins are the sites of some of the most economically and societally-significant processes in geology, including the generation of oil and gas, and the formation of metallic mineral deposits. However, the processes involved as mud transforms into mudstone and (where mountain-building occurs) into slate, are cryptic and poorly constrained. One source of information that can help illuminate some of these processes are authigenic growths of the mineral monazite (a rare earth element phosphate mineral) that are common in some classic mudrocks, such as in the Welsh Basin or in lagerstätte e.g. Sirius Passet, Greenland. Markedly zoned, both chemically and isotopically, and radiometrically dateable, these low-temperature rare earth element sinks can be used to track fluid-rock interactions, in the concentration of economically important ‘immobile’ elements.

The current generation of high-precision and ultra-high resolution analytical equipment offers the potential to use these diagenetic phenomena to track the movement of both fluids and chemical elements underground through both time and space, and illuminate the fundamental geological processes involved.

This PhD, jointly between the University of Leicester and the British Geological Survey (NIGL) explores this potential, applying state-of-the-art techniques to these complex, remarkable proxies for underground rock transformation.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility:

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at and use the Geography Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.


Evans, J.A., Zalasiewicz, J.A. & Chopey-Jones, A. 2008. The effect of small- and large-scale facies architecture of turbidite mudrocks on the behaviour of isotope systems during diagenesis. Sedimentology, 56, 863-872.

Wilby, P.R., Page, A.A., Zalasiewicz, J.A., Milodowski, A.E., Williams M. & Evans, J.A. 2006. Syntectonic monazite in low-grade mudrocks: a potential geochronometer for cleavage formation? Journal of the Geological Society, 163, 1-4.

Evans, J.A., Zalasiewicz, J.A., Fletcher, I., Rasmussen, B. & Pearce, N.G. 2002. Dating diagenetic monazite in mudrocks: constraining the oil window? Journal of the Geological Society of London, 159, 619-622.
Evans, J.A. & Zalasiewicz, J.A. 1996. U-Pb, Pb-Pb and Sm-Nd dating of authigenic monazite: implications for the diagenetic evolution of the Welsh Basin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 144, 421-433.

Milodowski, A.E. and Zalasiewicz, J.A. 1991. Redistribution of rare earth elements during diagenesis of turbidite/hemipelagite mudrock sequences of Llandovery age from central Wales. In Developments in Sedimentary Provenance Studies (ed. Morton, A.C., Todd, S.P. and Houghton, P.D.), Geological Society Special Publication No. 57, 101-124.

Zalasiewicz, J. and J. Evans (1998). The amazing mud factory. Chemistry in Britain 34(12): 21-24.

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