Position: PhD Student
Personal Website: http://people.rses.anu.edu.au/tanner_d/
Area of study: Igneous Geochemistry/Experimental Petrology/Ore Deposit Geology
Project: High-temperature formation and modification of ore deposits.
What does that mean?
Ore deposits are mineral reserves of economic significance. In particular, I have been studying platinum-group element deposits which also contain valuable concentrations of chromium and vanadium; and high-grade copper-gold ores. These ore deposits are related to magmatic processes, so I am using techniques that a volcanologist or an igneous geochemist would use and applying them to ore-forming processes. I am interested in understanding how temperature gradients affect ore deposition, and what high-temperature processes modify these rocks (such as recrystallization and diffusion). In order to answer these questions, I use many different tools and techniques – such as the SHRIMP (to measure stable isotopes in minerals and rocks in situ), Laser-Ablation ICP-MS (to measure trace elements in minerals and rocks in situ), as well as the Electron Microprobe and Scanning Electron Microscope to chemically map and quantify the chemistry of minerals. I also conduct high-temperature experiments to simulate natural processes in the Experimental Petrology Laboratory.
How did I get here?
I am one of the few students in the department who wanted to be a geologist since they were young. I have collected rocks and minerals since I can remember and I still can’t seem to kick this habit. My enthusiasm for geology has meant that I dragged my family around Australia on ‘geological themed’ holidays. We went to Coober Pedy to see the opals, Victoria to see the extinct volcanoes, and Ballarat to hunt for gold. We even went to Perth and back to see stromatolites (the oldest living fossils in the world) in Cervantes, gold mines near Kalgoorlie, agates in Norseman and the very flat Nullarbor Plain. I chose to do my undergraduate degree at the Australian National University, as I had previously seen the high-tech equipment at the Research School of Earth Sciences on a field trip while I was a high-school student. I completed my undergraduate degree at the Australian National University and I just couldn’t leave as there were too many questions left to answer.
Where will I go?
Not sure yet as there are many places that my PhD could take me. I really enjoy teaching geology to undergraduate students and being a researcher, so an academic position is my ideal job. However, I could also work as an exploration/consultant geologist, or for a national or state survey. All I know is that my next job probably won’t be in Australia.