Copper and nickel stable isotopes in overburden and transported cover as exploration tools for buried magmatic sulfide deposits

The rate of discovery of new, large mineral deposits has slowed, yet significant opportunity exists in many world-class belts where post-mineral cover obscures bedrock and can potentially hide world-class deposits beyond the reach of traditional geochemical tools. However, locating mineral deposits in areas of thick or transported overburden is challenging. The proposed research integrates trace-element geochemistry with traditional (sulfur) and non-traditional (nickel and copper) isotope geochemistry to characterise the footprints of mineralised and sub-economic magmatic systems with the objective of identifying elemental and isotopic systems that serve as vectors towards Ni-Cu mineralisation. In collaboration with ALS Geochemistry (North Vancouver, Canada), copper and nickel isotopic techniques will be developed to create a new suite of analytical services to be offered on a commercial basis to the mineral exploration industry. Successful demonstration of these isotope systems as mineralization vectors in covered regions from Canadian, Australian, and Russian deposits (provided by IGO Ltd.) may potentially create a host of new clients in the mining industry who already routinely send samples to ALS Geochemistry for analysis, and facilitate the discovery of new deposits of critical metal resources that are crucial to the further development of Canada’s economy and the shift towards renewable resources.

Faculty Supervisor:

Matthew Leybourne


Kaj Sullivan








Queen's University



Current openings

Find the perfect opportunity to put your academic skills and knowledge into practice!

Find Projects