Laura Ward

University of Leicester


Crustal controls on craton-margin magmatic ore deposits: insights from south eastern Africa


Dr Dave Holwell (Leicester), Dr Richard Walker (Leicester), Dr Tiff Barry (Leicester), Dr Simon Tapster (BGS-NIGL), Mr Simon Purkiss (Consolidated Nickel Mines – CASE partner), Dr Dave Evans (Carrog Consulting).

PhD Summary

The recently recognised spatial correlation of major Ni-sulphide deposits with cratonic margin revolutionised the exploration of mafic-ultramafic intrusions, and focussed genetic models on integrating crustal-scale criteria. Host intrusions are dyke-sill and conduit/feeder systems whereby crustal fault systems at craton margins excellent pathways for the migration of fertile mantle melts from plumes impinging on the craton base and channelled to the margins, or from melting subcontinental lithosphere. Few studies however, have considered the structural controls on the emplacement of such systems. Dyke-sill complexes are commonly inferred to propagate via networks of faults, with the transition to sills being linked to neutral buoyancy or the interaction of the magma between perpendicular foliations. Recent studies of sill systems show their geometry is strongly dependent on the stress state, and the response of existing structures is dependent on their mechanical properties, orientation, and magnitude of applied stress. Using the Neoproterozoic Zambezi and Mozambique belts as a natural testing ground, this research aims to addresses the key rock/source controls on determining the mineralising potential of particular intrusions and dominant stress regimes during emplacement with the aim to construct a natural example of conduit-hosted system model for magmatic sulphide metalogenesis.

What inspires you

I have always been interested in the natural world from a young age, inspired by various holidays as a child and of course, Sir David Attenborough!

Previous activity

Before starting my PhD I completed an integrated masters (MGeol) in Applied and Environmental Geology at the University of Leicester.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

Throughout my degree, modules which delve into the nature, genesis and complexity of ore deposits and the challenge of my masters research project inspired me to pursue a research career in the field of economic and exploration geology.

Why did you choose CENTA?

The facilities and training sessions accessible by being CENTA funded, in addition to the perfect PhD title!

Future plans

I hope to pursue a Post-Doc after finishing my PhD and continue to research in the field of applied geology.