Lithospheric evolution of the Yilgarn Craton

Understanding the geological history of Western Australia’s most endowed region

Western Australia’s Yilgarn Craton preserves over 4 billion years of Earth History. Using geophysics and geochemistry together, this project will attempt to unravel that history to aid mineral resource discovery.

Western Australia’s most endowed region for gold and nickel resources, the Yilgarn Craton formed during the Archean from older elements, but much modified during the Proterozoic and Phanerozoic.

The processes and timing of its formation is a source of some controversy, with several different models proposed, each with different implications for the generation of mineral resources.

In turn these form part of globally relevant models of lithosphere formation and the generation of minerals endowment.

As part of a large industry-linked initiative, this PhD project seeks to develop novel ways to use new geochemical, isotopic and geophysical data together to test existing models and to generate new ideas. These ideas will inform regional exploration in the region.

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will:

  • Devise novel workflows for integrated interpretation of geochemical, isotopic and geophysical data
  • Using these, test several existing models for the evolution of the Yilgarn Craton lithosphere, characterizing their degree of fit to the above data
  • Characterise differences in regions, in particular for regions well-endowed with deposits versus regions less well-endowed.

Project goals

Develop methods to analyse geochemical and geophysics data together

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Apply these to the Yilgarn Craton to understand its development through time

Determine characteristics of relevance to exploration in the region

Research team leader - Dr Alan Aitken

I am a geophysicist and tectonicist with experience in crustal and lithospheric-scale modelling and geologic interpretation. I have worked extensively in Australia, putting together the pieces of its 3D jigsaw, including defining the vertical and horizontal development of the crust and lithospheric mantle. I also pursue research in other regions of the world and for several applications.

The project is to be co-supervised by an inter-disciplinary team of excellent researchers in isotope geochemistry and geochemistry.

Collaborations and funding

Current funding:

  • This project is supported by the $2M, 3 year Yilgarn2020 initiative, which seeks to meet the mineral exploration industry’s needs to improve predictive mineral exploration in the Yilgarn Craton.

External collaborators:

  • Yilgarn2020 is a collaboration between the CET at UWA, the State Government and industry sponsors
  • Project sponsorship is finalized. Scientific collaborators may contact team leaders.


How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project include:

  • You will have a strong background in either Geology or Geophysics with some exposure to the fundamental methods of the other discipline
  • You will be willing to engage in quantitative numerical and spatial analysis methods.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


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