Geology PhD Scholarships

PhD Scholarships in Geology at UNE

(For Domestic Students Only)

The School of Environmental and Rural Science at the University of New England is offering a variety of exciting PhD projects in geology. We are looking for motivated individuals with a passion for science to join our research group as PhD candidates. The University is offering an RTP Domestic Stipend Scholarship for successful domestic candidates. This amounts to AU$27,596 (2019 rate) per annum tax free for up to three years to support full-time students.  Please refer to Conditions of Award for further information regarding the RTP Domestic Scholarship.

All projects will be strongly based on petrographic and field observations with supplementary geochemical analysis, and while there is some scope to tailor the projects based on the applicant’s experience, a successful applicant must be proficient in these fundamental skills.

Project descriptions

1.  Window into the mantle: tracking changes in the lithosphere with mineral chemistry

There are several hotspot tracks running down the east coast of Australia, spanning 3000 km of lithosphere. We’re interested in looking at the variations in the source of the melts associated with these hotspots, and relating these to mantle heterogeneity in eastern Australia. The project would entail field mapping, petrology, whole rock geochemistry, mineral geochemistry and isotope geochemistry. The mineral chemistry would be a particularly novel approach, with new instruments and techniques being used to probe minerals with unprecedented precision and detection limits - this is likely to open up a new window into igneous processes. The project will assess redox states of the melts, composition of the melt source, and whether and when melts have reached sulfur saturation. Ultimately this information will illuminate variation within the eastern Australian mantle, generation of hotspot melts, and even development of economic deposits.

We are looking for a candidate with an honours or master’s degree in earth sciences. A candidate with a background in igneous rocks, igneous geochemistry and petrology is preferred, with an interest in undertaking geological fieldwork.

Supervisory Team: Dr Ed Saunders (UNE), Dr Nancy Vickery (UNE). External co-supervisors: A/Prof Olivier Alard (Macquarie University)

2.  An explosive volcanic field of supervolcano proportions: Eruptive style and evolution over time

The project would entail characterising a vast, poorly understood rhyolitic volcanic field in terms of its evolution over time and overall eruptive style. The occurrence of such extensive volcanic fields provides an opportunity to explore over-arching geological processes important for the petrogenesis and tempo of silicic volcanism. The project would have a strong field component and would entail building a compilation of a variety of data-sources, including historic data. Integral to unravelling the evolution of these rocks would be extensive petrology, bulk-rock and mineral geochemistry, and U-Pb geochronology using a series of techniques. There is significant scope to diversify the project including investigating relationships of these volcanic rocks to temporally and spatially related granites. This could lead into investigating the controlling factors on the fate of rhyolitic melts and also what drives the Sn prospectivity of granites in the region.  These methods will be employed in combination to understand the entire evolution of the region. This project is based in the beautiful New England Region of NSW.

We are looking for a candidate with an Honours or Master’s degree in earth sciences. A strong interest to work in the field and undertake geological mapping. The candidate would also benefit from a background in igneous rocks, expertise in petrology and geochemistry is favourable. The project would involve fieldwork, petrography, geochemistry and isotopes. There is enough scope of work to tailor this project to a suitable candidate.

Supervisory Team: Dr Luke Milan (UNE), Dr Timothy Chapman (UNE) and Dr Nancy Vickery (UNE). External co-supervisors: Dr Kate Bull (Geological Survey of NSW), Dr Phil Blevin (Geological Survey of NSW) and A/Prof Nathan Daczko (Macquarie University)

3.  Digging up roots: examining the petrography and geochemistry of the mantle below the New England Orogen

Tertiary basalts that have penetrated through the New England Orogen often contain xenoliths from the upper mantle. These xenoliths represent the lithospheric mantle that is the root of the orogen. Investigating the age and composition of these xenoliths will provide important insight into the history of this part of eastern Australia. This project will entail field sampling, petrography and whole-rock geochemistry, mineral geochemistry and geochronology. This information can be used to evaluate the heterogeneity of the mantle below the New England Orogen – are there any blocks of more ancient material below the Phanerozoic orogen? It could also be used to investigate whether the broadly determined eastern Australian geotherm applies to the orogen, or if it deviates from this curve. The project will also investigate the role that the New England lithospheric mantle has played in mineralisation of the overlying crust, which will feed into the broader investigation of the role of the mantle in mineralisation globally.

We are looking for a candidate with an honours or master’s degree in earth sciences. A candidate with a background in igneous rocks, igneous geochemistry and petrology is preferred, with an interest in undertaking geochemical laboratory work. Experience with some analytical methods such as EMP, SEM and geochronology is advantageous.

Supervisory Team: Dr Ed Saunders (UNE), Dr Nancy Vickery (UNE) and Dr Luke Milan (UNE). External co-supervisors: A/Prof Olivier Alard (Macquarie University) and Dr José María González-Jiménez (Universidad de Granada)

4.  Re-evaluating the Great Serpentinite Belt

This project is focussed on a serpentinite matrix melange hosting lower to upper crustal rocks, and dismembered blocks of ophiolitic affinity. This project would focus on a variety of ophiolitic blocks to unravel the tectonic history dating back to the Cambrian. The project would entail field mapping, petrology, whole rock geochemistry, zircon geochronology and isotope geochemistry. This project is based in the beautiful New England Region of NSW.

There is significant scope to diversify the research project, depending on the candidate.

We are looking for a candidate with an honours or master’s degree in earth sciences. A candidate with a background in igneous rocks, igneous geochemistry and petrology is preferred, with an interest in undertaking geological fieldwork.

Supervisory Team: Dr Luke Milan (UNE) and Dr Timothy Chapman (UNE). External co-supervisors: A/Prof Nathan Daczko (Macquarie University)

5.  Evaluating monazite geochronology in the Himalayan Orogen

This research project will explore whether the monazite ages with a 30 Myr spread in single areas in Himalaya Orogen reflect multiple metamorphic events or the role of partial isotopic resetting, using rocks samples with variable metamorphic grades in eastern and central Himalayas. Detailed analysis on internal structure and crystalline features of grains with scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) as well as major and trace element analysis with Electron Microprobe (EMP), will be linked to micro-dating of monazite for a correct interpretation of monazite ages. In partially molten rocks such as migmatite, zircon U-Pb dating will also be employed for double insurance since zircon is more resistant to being altered and reset on isotopic composition. The project would also involve phase equilibria calculations on representative samples to resolve P-T-t paths.

We are looking for a candidate with an honours or master’s degree in earth sciences. A candidate with a background in petrology is preferred. Experience with some analytical methods such as EMP, SEM and geochronology are favourable.

Supervisory Team: Dr Luke Milan (UNE) and Dr Timothy Chapman (UNE). External co-supervisors: Prof. Geoffrey Clarke (University of Sydney)

6.  Understanding the role of the mantle in mineralisation

The lithospheric mantle has long been established to be important in the formation of large Ni and Cu deposits. Recent work has highlighted that it may also be a key player in enriching other metals too, including gold. However, there is little information about the nature and geochemistry of the lithospheric mantle below some of the strongly gold enriched terranes, especially South America. We have access to a large suite of mantle xenoliths from Argentina and Galapagos (as well as other underexplored regions). Preliminary results suggest that these are gold rich (e.g. Tassara et al. 2018) but there is still a lot of investigative work to be done. This is a rare opportunity to explore the petrography and composition of the mantle below South America, and link the processes that have affected this mantle to the mineralization that has occurred in the overlying crust. The project will involve detailed petrography of the mantle xenoliths, in situ mineral analysis and whole rock geochemistry.

We are looking for a candidate with an honours or master’s degree in earth sciences. A candidate with a background in igneous rocks, igneous geochemistry and petrology is preferred, with an interest in undertaking geochemical laboratory work. Experience with some analytical methods such as EMP, SEM and geochronology is advantageous.

Supervisory Team: Dr Ed Saunders (UNE) and Dr Nancy Vickery (UNE). External co-supervisors: A/Prof Olivier Alard (Macquarie University) and Dr José María González-Jiménez (Universidad de Granada)

7.  Other projects?

Should you have other interests within the New England Orogen that are not accommodated here, staff are open to discuss and tailor a project to an applicant where feasible. Email the supervisory team to discuss.

Supervisory Team: Dr Ed Saunders (UNE), Dr Nancy Vickery (UNE) and Dr Luke Milan (UNE).

Applications and enquiries

Enquiries

For further enquiries about the above projects, please contact:

How to apply?

All applications should include:

  1. Curriculum Vitae, including any publications and a list of technical skills (lab and/or field based).
  2. A full academic transcript
  3. Two written references
  4. An example of your written work.

To apply for a project, please email the relevant supervisor (listed above) and copy in Dr Ed Saunders (ed.saunders@une.edu.au).

In applying for one or more projects, please explain how your experience and interests make you a suitable candidate for the respective project(s).

Applications are welcome anytime, but close on 15 December 2019.