Updated: Apr 26, 2022
I am a PhD student from Zambia studying geology at Camborne School of Mines (CSM), University of Exeter. My research is focussing on carbonatite deposits in the south-eastern part of Zambia. These carbonatites are the Kaluwe, Nachomba, Mwambuto and Chasweta hills in the Rufunsa Valley, and the relatively obscure Kesya and Mkwisi intrusions in Lusaka whose carbonatitic nature was not resolved in past studies. My research is revisiting these carbonatites to better understand their nature and petrogenesis, especially with respect to how rare earth element (REE) deposits form in carbonatite systems.
I also have keen interest in the economic geology of clean energy technology mineral resources in central and southern Africa for commodities that include; Li, Cu, Co, Mn, Ni, Sn, Ta, Zn, Pb, Cr, U and geothermal energy.
My PhD research has been funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK and my study leave has been granted by the Copperbelt University in Zambia who are my employers. I am supervised by Prof Frances Wall (CSM) and co-supervised by Dr Kathryn Moore (CSM) and Dr Sam Broom-Fendley (CSM).
New geomodels for Zambian carbonatites — towards integrating extrusive and subvolcanic processes
Michael Musialike, Frances Wall, Sam Broom-Fendley, Kathy Moore
South-east Zambia hosts six carbonatite complexes: Mkwisi and Keshya in Lusaka, and Chasweta, Mwambuto, Nachomba and Kaluwe, in the Rufunsa Valley (Fig 1). Owing to their remoteness, these carbonatites are relatively understudied. The last time detailed field studies where carried out on these carbonatites was in the early 1960s. Although past studies on south-east Zambian carbonatites have been relatively few and far apart, observations drawn from them have had a profound contribution to what we now understand about carbonatite petrogenesis. This PhD research is revisiting these carbonatites to better-understand their genesis, especially with respect to how rare earth element deposits form in carbonatite systems. The Rufunsa valley carbonatites are mantle-derived extrusive dolomite carbonatites without associated silicate rocks, which is a relatively rare expression of carbonatite volcanism. Past studies on the carbonatitic nature of the Kesya and Mkwisi intrusions where inconclusive.
The hypotheses of this study is that the Rufunsa valley carbonatites are the volcanic and temporal equivalents of the Chilwa Alkaline Province (CAP) carbonatites of Malawi and Mozambique while the Kesya and Mkwisi are part of the Rufunsa valley carbonatite province. Combined with those of the CAP, the south-east Zambian carbonatites probably form one of the best examples in the World where it is possible to reconstruct a full cross section through a carbonatite system with important rare earth deposits.
Fig 1: The location of south-east Zambian carbonatites (red star) within the East African Rift System (Modified from Kampunzu and Mohr, 1991)