- Nicolas Thebaud, UWA
The northernmost 200 km of the 600 km long Kalgoorlie Terrane, referred to as the Agnew-Wiluna Belt, contains several Tier 1 Ni-Cu-PGE deposits, such as Mt. Keith and Perseverance, and is one of the most highly nickel-endowed belts in the world.
Despite recent structural and volcanological investigations in the southernmost part of the belt, there is still a poor understanding of how these stratigraphically-hosted deposits relate to the camp- and regional-scale volcanic architecture.
Knowledge of the fundamental architecture is critical for developing effective exploration strategies and for new green-fields discoveries in the area for both komatiite-hosted Ni-Cu-PGE and gold mineralisation.
Using the excellent rock exposure in open pits together with drill-log, geochemistry and geophysical datasets, this project aims to integrate the tectono-stratigraphic and mineralisation history that can be derived from focussed deposit scale studies and regional traverses into a renewed camp scale understanding of the Agnew Wiluna Belt.
The key challenge is to place both Ni-Cu-PGE but also gold mineralisation, or lack thereof, into a regional spatial and temporal context that can guide resource delineation strategies.
This project is part of a large collaborative initiative funded through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) and several industry sponsors, and will benefit from the historical and growing literature on the Agnew region and strong links between QUT and the University of Western Australia.
A focussed deposit scale study of the Leinster to Wiluna Greenstone Belt and associated deposits to construct lithostratigraphic and deformation histories along belt transects. The regional stratigraphic transect will be expanded using potential field data sets.
Some of key analytical tasks include:
- regional lithofacies and lithogeochemical analysis of the Agnew Wiluna Greenstone belt
- building upon previous Agnew Gold Camp analyses
- new geochronology on key phases (intrusive and extrusive)
- evaluation of the Komatiite flow internal architecture and lateral variation using lithofacies and lithogeochemistry
- geological and geophysical data integration
- quarterly project summaries alongside a major report summarising outcomes
- workshops on site to highlight key progress made to date.
The work will aim to generate a new geological map with correct lithostratigraphic attribution. This new compilation will incorporate newly generated data that was produced by Nickel West geologists.
As a full time PhD student you will be part of a research team that will include other PhD students and a postdoc supervisor. You will be required to do a set amount of field work on the sites, as well as laboratory work (e.g., petrography, geochemistry and geochronology) at QUT and UWA with appropriate supervision.
As part of our project, we expect to have the following outcomes:
- lithostratigraphic characterisation and lateral variation highlighting the early architecture of the Agnew Wiluna Belt
- new geochronological constraints on the host rocks and key intrusive unit
- a 4D architecture model of the Agnew Wiluna Belt, integrating all structural and geophysical information
- a comprehensive understanding of the Agnew Wiluna Belt mineral systems framework
- development of new targeting criteria by identification of proxies that can be mapped in geoscience datasets.
As part of the PhD program the main outcome of the research will be incorporated into a PhD thesis. Furthermore, the academic results of this research will be published in peer-reviewed publications.
Skills and experience
Ideally you will have an undergraduate or Master’s degree in geology. Field experience is also desirable.
You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.
Contact the supervisor for more information.