Geohazards Research Unit


“Melt-mantle reaction and potential metal enrichment along the subcontinental crust-mantle transition zone (Balmuccia massif, Italy)”

Grant by National Science Center, Poland No. 2018/31/N/ST10/02146

Principal Investigator: dr Bartosz Pieterek

Sulfides are the main source of chalcophile metals, forming metal deposits that are strategic for the world economy. To better understand the subcontinental metallogeny processes we have to study sulfides within the lower continental crust and even in the mantle, because they may constitute a source of metals for deposits formed in the upper crust. However, the access to surface exposures of mantle rocks is limited, and therefore, knowledge about sulfide segregation and metallogeny processes is fundamentally unknown. By examining one of the best-preserved transition zones between the upper mantle and the lower continental crust in the Balmuccia peridotite massif in Italy, we can precisely reconstruct the migration of chalcophile metals throughout the subcontinental crust-mantle boundary.

The project uses both traditional geological methods, such as an optical microscope for mineral description, as well as the latest ones with high precision methods, such as the high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) or fast-scanning sector field ICPMS coupled to a femtosecond laser ablation system. These methods allow the determination of the isotopic composition of sulfur, copper, nickel, and iron, as well as examination of the concentration of trace elements, even of rare noble metals such as platinum or gold. The ongoing research may be crucial for investigations of enrichment in sulfides and chalcophile metals occurring at the boundary of the upper mantle and lower crust, partially explaining the missing copper paradox, and may also provide new data on the metal budget for the continental crust. 

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