George Stonadge

University of Leicester


Accessory Minerals as Fertility Indicators in Porphyry Copper Formation


Andrew Miles (University of Leicester), David Holwell (University of Leicester), Simon Large (Natural History Museum)

PhD Summary

Porphyry copper deposits host three quarters of the worlds copper resources. Such resources are becoming increasingly difficult to find and greater in demand. Despite generally greater agreement on the processes leading to mineralization, it is still debated what makes a magmatic system 'fertile', possessing the ability to form large porphyry copper resources. My project aims to compare the geochemistry of several accessory minerals within 'fertile' and 'barren' magmatic systems (no potential for mineralisation). Analysing robust accessory minerals e.g. zircon, grants the unique opportunity to see through alteration and investigate the previously active magmatic conditions during formation of a porphyry copper deposit. I will study pre-, syn- and post-mineralization rocks from the world class Santo Thomas II Cu-Au deposit, Luzon, Philippines. The geochemical signatures throughout mineralization will then be compared with modern analogues of 'fertile' (Pinatubo) and 'barren' (Taal) magmatic systems. This will allow the investigation of key magmatic processes leading to the, still ambiguous, generation of porphyry copper fertility.

What inspires you?

Having grown up in the Yorkshire Dales I was captivated by its natural beauty. My burning curiosity about the variety of landscapes I regularly encountered provided an early enthusiasm for the natural world. Following this, I only became more aware of how vital understanding the natural world and its resources was for the stability of modern society. The marriage of these two inspirations has driven me to pursue research into furthering the understanding of the earth, and more specifically, its mineral deposits.

Previous Activity

I began my PhD having only just graduated from my masters degree at the University of Leicester. Though possessing a great interest for a variety of geological fields during my BSc, I was always set on becoming an applied geologist. Later on, I undertook a masters research project involving the application of new technologies to benefit the understanding of critical metal (metals with high economic importance and high supply risk) resources. This provided me with a large amount of freedom to get creative with automated mineralogy in ZEISS’s development laboratory. The Finnish Geological Survey, Scandium International and University of Eastern Finland were also tied into this project providing me with Km’s of core archives and large geochemical datasets. My thesis described and interpreted a new type of magmatic hosted scandium resource.

Why did you choose Docotoral Research?

I get a great amount of fulfilment out of helping to solve real world problems in areas that I am passionate about and believe are of great importance. My previous research experience only made me want more; to work with bigger datasets, tackle bigger problems, become integrated with larger research groups and make more of an impact. Thus, a doctoral research project was the logical next step for me.

Why did you choose a CENTA Studentship?

CENTA immediately stood out to me for their core focus on creating students with a diverse skillset. The opportunity for training in a large variety of disciplines I believed would help me advance as a researcher, but also boost my CV if I chose to go into industry following my PhD. Having spoken with CENTA students during my masters degree I was intrigued by the integrated nature of the multidisciplinary and multi-institutional consortium. The networking and potential collaborations that could come from this were a decisive factor in motivating me to apply.

What are your future plans

Currently, I am undecided whether I will make the transition into industry or continue with academia at the end of my PhD. Regardless of which route I choose, I am confident that being a CENTA student will provide me with a competitive edge through various means of training. From software skills to teamwork and networking exercises I will gain a valuable and diverse set of transferable skills, in addition to a PhD.