Geologists solve puzzle that could predict valuable rare earth element deposits

Geologists solve puzzle that could predict valuable rare earth element deposits
Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some the most valuable rare earth deposits. Credit: Michael Anenburg, ANU.

Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some the most valuable rare earth deposits.


A team of geologists, led by Professor Frances Wall from the Camborne School of Mines, have discovered a new hypothesis to predict where rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium could be found.

The elements are among the most sought after, because they are an essential part of digital and clean energy manufacturing, including magnets in large wind turbines and electric cars motors.

For the new research, scientists conducted a series of experiments that showed sodium and potassium—rather than chlorine or fluorine as previously thought—were the key ingredients for making these rare earth elements soluble.

This is

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Geologists solve puzzle that could predict valuable rare earth element deposits — ScienceDaily

Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some the most valuable rare earth deposits.

A team of geologists, led by Professor Frances Wall from the Camborne School of Mines, have discovered a new hypothesis to predict where rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium could be found.

The elements are among the most sought after, because they are an essential part of digital and clean energy manufacturing, including magnets in large wind turbines and electric cars motors.

For the new research, scientists conducted a series of experiments that showed sodium and potassium — rather than chlorine or fluorine as previously thought — were the key ingredients for making these rare earth elements soluble.

This is crucial as it determines whether they crystalise — making them fit for extraction — or stayed dissolved in fluids.

The experiments could therefore allow geologists

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Geologists glean insights about how Earth went from a hothouse to an ice age, and what that may mean for the future — ScienceDaily

Usually, talk of carbon sequestration focuses on plants: forests storing carbon in the trunks of massive trees, algae blooming and sinking to the seabed, or perhaps peatlands locking carbon away for tens of thousands of years.

While it’s true that plants take up large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, the rocks themselves mediate a great deal of the carbon cycle over geological timescales. Processes like volcano eruptions, mountain building and erosion are responsible for moving carbon through Earth’s atmosphere, surface and mantle.

In March 2019, a team led by UC Santa Barbara’s Francis Macdonald published a study proposing that tectonic activity in the tropics, and subsequent chemical weathering by the abundant rainfall, could account for the majority of carbon capture over million-year timeframes.

Now, Macdonald, doctoral student Eliel Anttila and their collaborators have applied their new model to the emergence of the Southeast Asian archipelago — comprising New Guinea,

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