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Melting of metasomatised mantle: The missing link to understanding the global sulfur cycle


About This PhD Project

Project Description

The global sulfur and carbon cycles are key links between the evolution of life and geochemical transformations of the atmosphere, oceans and deep Earth. These PhD projects tie in with a larger scale project investigating these cycles associated with a prestigious ARC Future Fellowship grant awarded to A/Prof. Tomkins. For both projects, the methods used can be adjusted based on the candidate’s preferences, but will likely involve using a combination of field work and geochemical modelling. This work represents an exciting and high-impact addition to our understanding of subduction zone processes and the global sulfur and carbon cycles, and will result in a number of important publications.

Dissolved sulfate in seawater is incorporated into oceanic crust at mid-ocean ridges and then transported into the deep Earth at subduction zones. When the downgoing slab is metamorphosed it loses fluid, which liberates oxidised sulfur and causes melting of the overlying mantle wedge. We think that sulfur is transferred from the sub-arc mantle and through the crust in these melts, but exactly how this occurs is uncertain. This PhD project focuses on understanding metal and sulfur transfer during partial melting of metasomatised mantle. Again, we will conduct field work to collect samples at a range of sites, which might include Australia, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, and Japan. Using these samples, this project will determine how sulfur is transported in mantle melts beginning from its incorporation into metasomatised mantle rocks above the subducted slab, following its geochemical evolution during partial melting of the mantle, and then as melt travels upwards through the sub-arc mantle and into the lower crust.

Scholarship details

The 3.5 year award includes all course fees and a ~$27,600 AUD per year tax-free stipend. Project costs will be borne by the grant awarded to A/Prof. Andy Tomkins.

Monash and the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

Monash is a member of the Group of Eight, a coalition of top Australian universities recognised for their excellence in teaching and research. The School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment is a friendly and dynamic unit with a recognised strength in solid Earth geoscience, being ranked in the top 50 Earth Science schools worldwide. Monash University is located in Melbourne, one of the most liveable cities in the world and a cultural and recreational hub.

Application process

Interested candidates should send their CV, academic transcripts and a brief outline of research interests and motivation to . Successful applicants will have completed a 4-year undergraduate degree with a high grade in a significant research project (thesis equivalent to an Australian first-class honours), or a MSc degree (with a thesis component) in a relevant field (i.e., earth science/geoscience). Monash PhD scholarships are highly competitive and successful applicants generally have relevant additional research experience and/or research publications in international journals. Review of applications will begin immediately and short-listed candidates will be contacted for more information and invited to interview.

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