Sulphides - Economically important geochemical messengers from the mantle

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Earth Sciences

Abstract

My project is aimed at understanding how a number of economically and geologically important chemical elements partition themselves between the silicates of the outer parts of the Earth and sulphides, minerals and liquids rich in sulphur. Although sulphur is not very abundant in the Earth, it has a powerful impact on the behaviour of a wide range of elements in Earth's crust and underlying mantle. For example, the majority of ore bodies rich in nickel, copper, gold and platinum are sulphides. Many of them are formed when sulphides separate from molten silicates in volcanic areas. A principal aim of my project is to experimentally reproduce the conditions under which sulphides separate and to determine how they extract the economically important elements from the host volcanic rocks. A second aim is to use my experimental results to determine whether or not a large mass of sulphide was extracted from the molten earth early in its history (4500 million years ago) and dissolved into the metallic core.
In order to study how elements are distributed into sulphide I perform experiments at high pressures and temperatures, typically 15000 atmospheres pressure and 1400 degrees C in a large hydraulic press. After treatment at high pressure and temperature, the samples (typically about 1x1x1 millimeters) are rapidly cooled to room temperature and pressure and examined using a range of microanalytical techniques. The latter enables me to resolve chemical composition on the scale of 10 microns (or 10 millionth's of a meter).

Planned Impact

We know very little about the origin of our planet, how it has evolved through time and how it came to be suitable for life. The key questions about the evolution of the Earth involve its first hundred million years after the accretion and concern the potential collision with the large body - the Impactor (that formed the Moon) and the late-stage bombardment of the Earth by smaller bodies that added to the Earth's mantle up to 1% of its mass. Interestingly, although they are fundamental science questions of relevance to everyone, we lack sufficient data that would enable us to evaluate these hypotheses quantitatively.
Public interest in the evolution of our planet has never been higher, issues such as climate change, solar activity, missions to planets and life on Mars attract high levels of interest and publicity. This interest emphasises the value of research that can help us understand our planet better and the need for that research to be communicated to the public and potential users. Better understanding of how the planet works has significant impacts on people's lives, including potential tools for volcanic eruptions and earthquake prediction, preventive measures against environmental catastrophes and general improvement of the quality of life.
Apart from scientific benefits, data that this project will provide could be widely used by economic geologists in order to target potential sites for magmatic sulphide deposits and to assess the concentrations of valuable trace metals, such as the platinum group elements, which are used in automotive, agriculture, chemical, petroleum, electrical, electronic, dental, medical, and aerospace industries. My study of sulphide-silicate partitioning will enable quantification of the relationship between valuable metal depletions and the extent of sulphide precipitation. Given that the host rock for the ores is silicate, the ore metals depletions in the silicates are controlled by the amounts of sulphide generated. This will make it possible to quantify the economic potential of the deposit.
Dissemination of relevant research results can be done by engaging with interdisciplinary organisations (within the University of Oxford) such as the James Martin School for the 21st Century, which promotes interaction with policy groups, as well as the education of non-scientists of all ages. Routine dissemination of research output from the fellowship will include the publication of peer reviewed scientific papers as well as the presentation of research results at international conferences and smaller, more specialised meetings. Internally (within the University of Oxford) scientific outputs from the project will be used in the development of material for Departmental, Divisional and University Science Open Days and outreach efforts at the University of Oxford, aimed both at the local community and potential new students.
The University of Oxford has a highly effective press office, with one officer dedicated to the work of the mathematical, physical and life science division (which includes Earth Sciences). The Oxford science press officer also runs the Oxford Science Blog, which has a wide reach (including a Facebook presence) and aims to communicate to the public, via the Internet, current research outputs by University of Oxford researchers. The University of Oxford is now also part of i-Tunes U, with considerable potential for the dissemination of material to the global public in the form of downloads and podcasts.
The experimental petrology group in the university of Oxford has its own webpage, which includes not only its recent achievements, but scientific tools and calculators which could be used by members of the other universities. Currently, the link to this website comes second when "experimental petrology" is searched in Google. This provides a high level of the website daily attendance.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description During the first year of the award, I have improved our understanding of how economically and geologically important chemical elements partition themselves between the silicates of the outer parts of the Earth and sulphides, minerals and liquids rich in sulphur. I have improved the model for partitioning of the economically valuable chalcophile elements between the two phases and have published this model in two high-impact scientific journals. Additionally, I have published two articles in high-profile journals (Geochemistry Perspective Letters and Nature Geoscience) on the composition of Earth's mantle and the oxidation state of the mantle transition zone. These articles explore the heterogeneities in the oxidation state of the Earth's mantle, which usually infer the change in oxidation state of such elements as carbon, iron and sulphur. These findings have significantly improved our understanding of the Earth's mantle and fluids/melts present at different depths.
Exploitation Route My findings will improve the general understanding about the processes which take place in the Earth's upper mantle and about the budget of economically important elements in the erupted magmas.
Sectors Other

 
Description Geochemistry Group's ECR prominent lecturer
Amount £1,500 (GBP)
Organisation Geological Society of London 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Description NERC Anniversary Ambassador
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
 
Description NERC Leadership Skills Training
Amount £1,750 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 11/2016
 
Description Cu- and Zn- isotope fractionation between the sulphide and silicate liquids. 
Organisation University of Science and Technology of China USTC
Department School of Earth and Space Sciences
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I've run high-pressure high-temperature experiments on Cu and Zn fractionation between sulphide and silicate liquids.
Collaborator Contribution My partners conducted isotopic analysis.
Impact The research is still in progress, however, most of experimental work is now completed and only a small fraction of isotopic work remains to be done.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Determining the oxidation state of the mantle beneath the Azores islands 
Organisation University of Azores
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have obtained some of the samples that we studied. I have applied for the Beamtime at Diamond (UK) and contributed to obtaining the measurements. Currently, I am working on fitting the spectra obtained at the Diamond beamline.
Collaborator Contribution They have contributed some of the samples, have done most of samples preparation and have joined me to work together at Diamond Light Source in July 2016. Currently, they are working on interpreting the spectra and producing the first draft of the manuscript
Impact This manuscript is still in preparation.
Start Year 2015
 
Description HSE in sulphides from Roberts Victor xenoliths 
Organisation Camborne School of Mines
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution During the last 2 years I was collaborating with Dr. Hannah Hughes on a project involving characterisation and quantification of highly siderophile elements in eclogite xenoliths from Roberts Victor kimberlite, South Africa I have conducted SEM and EMPA study of 2 xenoliths and sent them to Dr Hughes
Collaborator Contribution Dr Hughes in collaboration with Prof. Iain McDonald, Cardiff University, studied the samples by LA-ICPMS for trace element concentrations
Impact The manuscript is now in progress and we anticipate its submission within the following 2-3 months.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Looking at the mantle transition zone through diamond inclusions 
Organisation University of Bayreuth
Department Bavarian Research Institute of Experimental Geochemistry and Geophysics
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I provided the samples and applied for the Beamtime at ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) in Grenoble. After obtaining the results, I've produced the draft of the manuscript.
Collaborator Contribution My partners conducted measurements of ferric iron at ESRF. They have also worked with the data and provided me with the fitted spectra.
Impact The manuscript is currently at latest stages of editing prior to submission.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Mantle oxybarometer 
Organisation University of Alberta
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am collaborating with professor Thomas Stachel from the University of Alberta on a project that will help us unveil the oxidation state of the Earth's upper mantle.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Thomas Stachel provides unique samples (diamonds and their inclusions) from various kimberlite mines in Africa. I apply for beamtime on ESRF, Grenoble, and we both interpret the results and write papers.
Impact No outcomes yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description Study of Inconel 625 alloy exhaust manifold in an automobile racing environment 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Materials
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I provided a detailed study of the exhaust pipe composition using the LA-ICPMS method.
Collaborator Contribution My partners provided a sample for analysis and conducted the EPMA and Atom Probe studies of the same material
Impact Scientific manuscript: S. Pedrazzini, E.S. Kiseeva, R. Escoube, G.M. Hughes, G. Chapman, P.D. Edmondson, D. De Lille, P.A.J. Bagot (2016). Oxidation Behaviour and Microstructural Evolution of an Inconel Alloy in an Engine Exhaust Environment. Material design (submitted).
Start Year 2015
 
Description British Geological Survey - an Open Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I represented NERC on a NERC 50th stand during the British Geological Survey Open Day event.
My task was to bring a poster and some other visual material and to explain my research in Earth Sciences to the general public.
There were hundreds of adults and children who attended the stand during the day. For example, during the first 2 hours of the event, the entire site had more than 2000 visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bgs.ac.uk/news/events/openday/
 
Description Departmental website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I have created a website page on the University of Oxford website and regularly update its contents.
Experimental Petrology group in the University of Oxford is one of the top searches on Google for "experimental petrology". Being a part of this group allows me to promote my research and to engage with new collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.earth.ox.ac.uk/people/kate-kiseeva/
 
Description Featured article on the Deep Carbon Observatory Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2015 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Geochemical Perspectives Letters). This paper attracted a lot of attention from the Deep Carbon community. As a result, this article was featured on the DCO website that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails.
A number of researchers has contacted me since then with the plans and suggestions for future collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://deepcarbon.net/feature/pyroxenite-inclusions-transition-zone-diamonds-window-deep-earth#.Vsc...
 
Description Featured article on the Deep Carbon Observatory Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2018 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Nature Geoscience). This paper attracted a lot of attention from the Deep Carbon community. As a result, this article was featured on the DCO website that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails. I was offered to give an interview, and my interview was published online. A number of researchers has contacted me since then with the plans and suggestions for future collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://deepcarbon.net/feature/flawed-precious-stones-carry-clues-deep-mantle#.WqaTqoLLjDY
 
Description Featured article on the Elementy.ru website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2018 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Nature Geoscience). This paper attracted a lot of attention from a number of scientific online magazines worldwide. As a result, this article was featured on the Russian scientific website Elementy.ru that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails. Being a native-Russian speaker, I participated in the discussion of my publication with the Russian scientists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://elementy.ru/novosti_nauki/433203/Karbonatnye_osadki_okeana_mogut_okislyat_veshchestvo_zemnoy_...
 
Description Featured article on the alphagalileo.org website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2018 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Nature Geoscience). This paper attracted a lot of attention from a number of scientific online magazines worldwide. As a result, this article was featured on the scientific website alphagalileo.org that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=183339&CultureCode=en
 
Description Featured article on the eurekalert.org Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2018 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Nature Geoscience). This paper attracted a lot of attention from a number of scientific online magazines worldwide. As a result, this article was featured on the scientific website eurekalert.org that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-01/uoa-sf012318.php
 
Description Featured article on the phys.org website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2018 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Nature Geoscience). This paper attracted a lot of attention from a number of scientific online magazines worldwide. As a result, this article was featured on the scientific website phys.org that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://phys.org/news/2018-01-scientists-oxidized-iron-deep-earth.html
 
Description Featured article on the sci-news.com website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2018 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Nature Geoscience). This paper attracted a lot of attention from a number of scientific online magazines worldwide. As a result, this article was featured on the scientific website sci-news.com that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.sci-news.com/geology/highly-oxidized-iron-earths-deep-mantle-05660.html?utm_source=feedbu...
 
Description Featured article on the sott.net website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2018 I published an article on diamond inclusions in a high impact journal (Nature Geoscience). This paper attracted a lot of attention from a number of scientific online magazines worldwide. As a result, this article was featured on the scientific website sott.net that is attended daily by tens and hundreds of people in the community and is also well-advertised through the emails.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.sott.net/article/375173-Scientists-find-oxidized-iron-deep-within-Earths-mantle
 
Description Profile on Google Scholar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Recently I've created a profile on Google scholar, which is currently the most popular resource tool for searching scientific publications and dissemination of research to a more broader scientific public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=s3RFtMEAAAAJ&hl=en
 
Description Profile on Researchgate 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact I have created a profile on the Researchgate.net and am frequently updating it with the information related to my research. This is a "social media website" for researchers aimed to promote their research and to help link the researchers who work in the same field. At the moment, I have got 125 followers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kate_Kiseeva
 
Description Public lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a public lecture at the Geological Society of London.
Because of the size of the audience, I delivered it twice, having in total more than 100 attendees from general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/diamondwindows
 
Description Talk at Newcastle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact After the public lecture at Geolsoc London, I was invited to deliver the same lecture at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019