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Elisa Oliveira da Costa – ESR 6.

How and how quickly do critical elements mobilise in the mid-lower continental crust?

Elisa Oliveira da Costa

Hosted by: The School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem, Open University

Primary supervisor: Prof. Clare Warren (Open University)

Country of origin: Brasil 

Languages: Portuguese & English 

Contact email:


About me

Before FluidNET, I graduated in geology (2018) and finished my master’s degree in geoscience with emphasis in geochemistry (2021) at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in southernmost Brazil. I also studied for one year at The University of Auckland in New Zealand (2015), where I had the chance to do a volunteer internship at the GNS Science after the end of the academic year. In my undergraduate and master’s thesis, I studied metapelitic rocks of high and medium grade, respectively, of which I investigated the metamorphic and structural history through fieldwork, petrology, microstructures, and thermodynamic modelling.


About the project

The research topic – how and how quickly critical metals mobilise in the mid-lower continental crust – aims to identify which metamorphic minerals host specific trace elements during medium- to high-grade metamorphism, and especially how metamorphic and partial melting reactions concentrate these elements and/or mobilise them.  The reason to research critical metals is evident in their definition; they are strategic elements with a high supply risk and/ or economic significance for specific governments or companies. In the context of the European Union, the Green Deal aim to change the current reliance on fossil fuels to green technologies (e.g., wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries) will demand increasing amounts of elements, such as Li, Be, Ta, Cs, Sn, and W. These critical metals are regularly mined from peraluminous granites and granitic pegmatites – lithologies that are commonly formed via mica-melting reactions in enriched metapelitic protoliths. Thus, the formation of these elements’ deposits requires a combination of igneous, metamorphic, and even sedimentary processes. In this project, as before mentioned, the focus will be on how the metamorphic history enriches metamorphic minerals or granitic melts in medium- to high-grade conditions, or, in other words, in the mid-lower continental crust (∼12-40 km or ∼ 3-14 kbar, assuming 3 km ≈ 1 kbar).

I am based at School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem in the Faculty of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at The Open University in Milton Keynes (United Kingdom). My principal supervisor is Prof. Clare Warren (Open University), and my co-supervisors are Dr. Barbara Kunz (Open University), Prof. Tom Argles (Open University) and Prof. Leo Kriegsman (Naturalis Museum). The project will involve fieldwork, detailed petrography, mineral chemistry analysis utilising Electron Microprobe (EMPA) and Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and bulk-rock major element analyses using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) and bulk-rock trace element using solution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Samples from different crustal depths will be collected in different sections of the Variscan Orogeny. Two secondments of 6-8 weeks are planned: one with Prof. T. Wagner, Rheinsch Westfällische Technische Hochschule Aachen (Germany) to conduct LA-ICP-MS fluid characterization and tracer/provenance studies; and the other in La Palma Research Centre (Spain) to gain experience in the metals resources industry. Short laboratory visits are planned with Prof. J. Connelly, ETH (Switzerland), for thermodynamic modelling training and Dr. Leo Kriegsman, Naturalis Biodiversity Centre (Netherlands), for lower crustal petrology and melt-rock reaction training.


Institution: The Open University, Walton Hall, Kents Hill, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, United Kingdom

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