UCL Earth Sciences


Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir

“Without Rare Earth Elements (REEs) we would not have many of the products we now use"

PhD project title:

Magmatic evolution and rare earth element enrichment of the Loch Borralan carbonatite complex in Northwest Highlands, Scotland: An integrated mineralogical, geochemical and isotopic study.

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Project description:

I am an economic geologist interested in studying Rare Earth Elements (REEs) and their magmatic processes. 

I have been studying rare earth mineralisation in carbonatite for many years and recently discovered a new carbonatite intrusion composed of different rock units, including sövite, phlogopite sövite, glimmerite and carbonated glimmerite in NW Scotland, bringing new data supporting the importance of the Loch Borralan complex which could also be economically important. 

My research focuses on both rare earth elements enrichment processes (differentiating primary rare earth mineralisation from secondary) and the magmatic evolution of the complex. I am using an integrated approach, imaging, compositional analyses (both bulk and mineral), stable isotopes (δ18O and δ13C), and nitrogen and noble gases. I have used stepwise vacuum crushing data from calcite for carbon, nitrogen and argon isotope composition and element ratio to constrain multiple generations of fluid released at different crushing steps. 

Since this carbonatite complex is in an unusual geological environment, this will add to the complexity of generating carbonatitic melt at different depths. Proposed methodology: radiogenic isotope systems (Sr, Nd, Pb and Hf) at BGS Keyworth and (Ar-Ar and U-He) at NERC Argon Isotope Facility (AIF) at Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) in East Kilbride. The Sr-Nd-Pb systems will be used for examining carbonatite melt source characteristics. Such studies can identify the source of the carbonate melt and the ore-forming hydrothermal fluid. This method will be significant in understanding the origin of the carbonatite and glimmerite of Loch Borralan, whether they are derived from a primary mantle source or are related to late-stage externally-derived sources due to wall rock alteration or metasomatism. The Ar-Ar geochronology and U-He (in situ analysis from thin sections or mineral separates) is to constrain time and temperature processes.