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Research at St Andrews

Kris Sokol


Research overview

I am a Master of Geoscience graduate from Keele University in Staffordshire, UK (class of 2016) where I developed a keen interest in unusual (alkaline) volcanic environments and the mantle-crust processes that lead to formation of such magmas. I completed my MGeo thesis on the petrology and petrogenesis of the Tezhsar Alkaline Complex in central Armenia, Lesser Caucasus mountains - a dominantly contractional tectonic setting, wherein the genesis of alkaline magmas is not well understood.

My current PhD research deals with fluid-driven alteration imparted by alkaline-silicate magmas on their wallrock – a process known as “fenitisation”. Fenite haloes around magmatic chambers have potential to be used as a mineral exploration tool for targeting ore bodies of high-value commodities belonging to a group called “high-field-strength-elements” (or HFSE) such as Nb, Ta, Zr, Ti, Sc, Y, Pb U, Th and the lanthanides (rare-earth elements, or REE), many of which are critical for manufacturing of electronics, superconductors and various material science applications. In my work I use a spectrum of analytical methods - whole-rock (X-ray Fluorescence, Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry), mineral (Scanning Electron Microscopy, Electron Probe Micro-Analysis) and isotope geochemistry (by laser fluorination). The goal is to develop a better understanding of how fenite forms around alkaline-silicate intrusions and develop a genetic model for HFSE migration from their magmatic hearth to their ultimate destination (a potential ore deposit), which will help future efforts of locating mineralisation zones.

Although bulk of work is firmly within the realm of igneous geology and geochemistry, my interests within geology are broad, spanning sedimentology, stratigraphy, structural and petroleum geology, stemming from a geological mapping project in south Cantabria Picos de Europa national park at the frontal thrust zone where Carboniferous limestone ramp forms spectacular landscapes.

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