A-Team Quarterly Update – 3rd Quarter 2019

There have surely been fewer more successful times for our Research Group which has included three published papers, significant press coverage, two field expeditions, two short courses, grant awards and several published abstracts. We have also been involved in an outreach visit to Angola.


van de Ven M, Borst AM, Davies GR, Hunt EJ & Finch AA (2019) Hydrothermal Alteration of Eudialyte-Hosted Critical Metal Deposits: Fluid Source and Implications for Deposit Grade. Minerals, 9, 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9070422.

Borst AM, Finch AA, Friis H, Horsburgh NJ, Gamaletsos PN, Goettlicher J, Steininger R & Geraki K (2019) Structural State of Rare Earth Elements in Eudialyte-Group Minerals. Mineralogical Magazine, 1-49. doi:10.1180/mgm.2019.50.

Hutchison W, Babiel RJ, Finch AA, Marks MAW, Markl G, Boyce AJ, Stüeken EE, Friis H, Borst AM & Horsburgh NJ (2019) Sulphur isotopes of alkaline magmas unlock long-term records of crustal recycling on Earth. Nature Communications, 10, 4208.

Nature Communications Paper

Our Nature Comms paper on using sulfur isotopes to trace global cycling has attracted a significant amount of press attention following a press release by the University. You can follow some of the press attention and get a precis of the article here.

Taught Short Courses

We have been involved in two taught short courses, following particularly from our HiTech AlkCarb consortium.

SGA 2019 Glasgow

This course took place as part of the broader programme of taught courses in advance of the SGA 2019 conference in Glasgow. The course was entitled Resources in Carbonatite and peralkaline rocks: Everything you wanted to know but were too shy to ask” and  was run by Adrian and Frances Wall, a colleague in the HiTech AlkCarb consortium. (Those who attended the course can access the teaching materials here).



Luanda Critical Metals Workshop

As part of an outreach project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, we also gave a workshop at the Universidade Agostinho Neto in Luanda, Angola on the 12th September 2019 about resources in alkaline and peralkaline rocks. There was a particular emphasis on providing information that may be of interest to resources in Angola. The course included Adrian, A-team member Anouk Borst and Peter Siegfried, a member of GeoAfrica Consultants, who has worked extensively on similar rocks in Namibia and South Africa. Adrian and Peter are collaborators in the HiTech AlkCarb project. The conference was attended by 50+ people from the University and the wider geological community in Angola, including representatives of the state company Sonangol. (We have provided the teaching materials on-line for students who attended the course). It was followed by a meeting with the Student Geological Society and a tour of the Angolan Geological Museum.

Touring the Angolan Geological Museum with members of the Student Geological Society

Attendance at the conference included material from the HiTech AlkCarb and SoS RARE consortia and Pete Siegfried’s attendance was funded partly by HiTech AlkCarb. The Workshop was the first part of a visit to explore the possibilities for funding and preceded a 5 day fieldtrip to the Nejoio Complex in Southern Angola. A fuller description of the visit is given here.


Southern Greenland 2019

Kris Sokół was part of a student-led expedition to two regions of the Gardar Province in Southern Greenland. The first part of the expedition was looking at the Younger Giant Dyke Complex on the island of Tugtutoq and was completed by St Andrews Students: Rory Changleng, Lot Koopmans, Lucy Mathieson, Alasdair Murphy and Robert Webster who were in the field for much of the month of June. The group was joined by Kris who when moved the camp to the area East of the settlement of Igaliku where he examined the interactions between the Illerfissalik (Igdlerfigssalik) Nepheline Syenite body and the local country rocks, which included breccias, Erikfjord sediments and basalts, and some basement granitoids. The second part of the trip involved Kris Sokół with Lucy Mathieson, Alasdair Murphy and Robert Webster. The group will complete analysis of the petrology, geochemistry and magnetics of the samples brought back. The student fieldwork was supported by the kind assistance of the Mining Institute of Scotland Trust.

Angola 2019

Our workshop in Luanda was followed by a 5-day field course (15-20 September 2019) to the Nejoio Complex in Southern Angola. The purpose of the visit was to find out about the challenges of fieldwork in Angola as well as to explore and sample a peralkaline igneous centre that has remained untouched for more than 40 years. Our group included two graduates from St Andrews (Geraldine Tchimbali and Antonia dos Santos) and four current students from the Universidade Agostinho Neto (UAN) (Andre Eugenio, Egidio Lopes, Elizabeth Faria and Sergio Azevedo), whose undergraduate projects will follow from the fieldwork. Adrian, Anouk and Professor Aurora Bambi of the UAN expanded the objectives so that the expedition was also a field workshop for the students involved. (Some further teaching information from the course is available for the students who attended.)


Malawi 2019

MGeol student Sam Hooke was working in Malawi this summer with Mkango Resources in a project jointly with Dr Sam Broom-Fendley of the Camborne School of Mines. Sam is studying the petrology and petrogenesis of the Mauze Complex as his Masters dissertation. He did fieldwork with Mkango, who are the licence holders of Mauze, over the summer in Southern Malawi.


Goldschmidt 2019 Barcelona

Will Hutchison was one of the organisers of the session “Alkaline rocks and carbonatites: From mantle to mine (and everything in between)” which was part of the 2019 Goldschmidt Conference in Barcelona (18-23rd August 2019). This became one of the most keenly attended sessions at the conference. St Andrews had a good turnout from many of the research groups.


A-team presentations at Goldschmidt included:

Hutchison W, Babiel RJ, Finch AA, Marks MAW, Markl G, Boyce AJ, Stüeken EE, Friis H, Borst AM, Horsburgh NJ (2019) Sulphur isotopes of alkaline igneous suites: new insights into magmatic fluid evolution and crustal recycling.

Borst AM, Finch AA, Friis H, Horsburgh NJ, Gamaletsos PN, Göttlicher J, Steininger R, Geraki K (2019) Structural state of REE in Eudialyte-Hosted Critical Metal Deposits.

Beard CD, Goodenough KM, Broom-Fendley S, Borst AM, Roberts NMW, Finch AA, Deady EM (2019) Subducted sediments as a source for REE in mineralised post-collisional alkaline-carbonatite systems.

Allison N, Cole C, Hintz C, Hintz K, Rae J, Finch AA (2019) The role of calcification fluid pH in the precipitation of coral aragonite under future climate change scenarios.

SGA 2019 Glasgow, 27-30 August 2019

We had a good presence at the first SGA held in Scotland for many years, including three oral presentations and a poster.

Borst AM, Finch AA, Horsburgh NJ, Smith M, Marquis E, Nason P, Estrade G, Geraki K, Goodenough KM, Kynicky J, Cheng X (2019) Resolving the structural state of heavy rare earth elements in lateritic ion adsorption clays.

Finch AA, Hutchison W, Borst AM, Horsburgh NJ, Stüeken EE (2019) The architecture and geochemistry of magmatic roof zones: implications for mineralization and exploration.

Horsburgh NJ, Finch AA (2019) Luminescence sorting to reduce energy use during ore processing.

Sokół K, Finch AA, Hutchison W, Cloutier J, Humphreys M (2019) Fenitisation associated with alkaline silicate complexes: implications for HFSE mobility in late stage fluids, Gardar Province, SW Greenland.


HiTech AlkCarb Group meeting, Camborne School of Mines, 9-11 July 2019

Will and Adrian attended the HiTech AlkCarb group meeting hosted by the Camborne School of Mines in Falmouth of behalf of the St Andrews researchers. This is part of a series of meetings and skype conference calls designed to bring together the conclusions and outputs of the consortium in advance of its close in February 2020. This has included visits to St Andrews by Charles Beard (BGS) and Graham Banks (GEUS) within the last three months. These meetings are focussing on the final publications and outputs but also the legacy of the HiTech AlkCarb and SoS RARE consortia.

Grant Applications and Awards

We have made a major grant submission to the NERC Standard Grant submitted in July 2019 with collaborators Will Hutchison, Eva Stüeken and Aubrey Zerkle to explore further the role of sulfur isotopes in understanding continental alkaline magmatism.

We also had a successful bid to the UK High Field NMR Facility: Finch AA, Heard H, Allison N, Ashbrook SE, Dawson D (2019) “High-Field 11B NMR Investigation of Boron Speciation in Corals”. The grant awarded 5 days of analytical time to the project and the data were collected in early July. B isotope ratios are a proxy for pH in the oceans – one of the key ways in which we determine how pH in the oceans has changed over geological time. The cultured material has been grown in fixed pH conditions, allowing us to ground-truth the pH-B isotope proxy. The NMR data formed the proof-of-concept data for an multidisciplinary PhD submission “Boron Speciation in Corals and the Veracity of the Oceanic pH Proxy” which has been put forwards to the University St Leonard’s Studentship Scheme.

And Finally….

Welcome to Curtis Rooks who is joining the the A-team as an administrator for the group, working particularly on tidying up the information and making it available on-line after the end of the consortia. Curtis did fieldwork in Greenland last year as part of his undergraduate BSc dissertation and so is well known to the group. He graduated with a first class degree in the summer.

curtis image



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