Rare Earth Elements (REE) are essential to the UK's high technology manufacturing industries but our supply comes from only a few deposits worldwide, mostly from China.  One aim of our research is to understand chemical signatures in zeolite minerals related to these deposits and to use them as "route-maps" for discovering new deposits, currently hidden by surface layers.

   Some signatures are the result of element selection by minerals, and the zeolite group of minerals do this exceptionally well at low temperatures, being already widely utilized. We hope to discover by experimentation which zeolites are selective for which particular REE to be able to harness the patterns for industrial innovation. This could bring environmental benefits from energy savings in low temperature mineral processing. Similar experiments could be done for other "E-tech" critical elements such as indium, cobalt and tellurium.

   Further scope for harnessing nature's enrichment patterns comes from our study of the world's largest REE deposit at Bayan Obo in China. Although this deposit is mostly enriched in light-REE, we have nevertheless seen heavy-REE enrichment by two minerals, zircon and xenotime, though very rare at Bayan Obo. By collaboration with geochemical modellers, we hope to discover the brine-chemistry and temperature conditions at which these enrichments happened. This deeper understanding of REE mobilities also has the potential to help with exploration and mineral processing innovations.

Read more About Us here.


Our Science Questions:

(1) What are the patterns of geochemical behaviour of REE and other trace elements in environmentally-sensitive, near-surface systems (especially volcanic glass to zeolite transitions and hydrothermal fluid-zeolite precipitation), in relation to reaction conditions?

(2) Do zeolite minerals fractionate the REE due to mineralogical controls and if so, can these properties be harnessed for the benefit of industry and the environment?

(3) Can mineral stability models constrain industrial processing conditions necessary for mimicking and harnessing nature's highly effective HREE fractionation processes?

SoS-REAMS' Catalyst Activities:

For the volcanic glass to zeolite transitions, we are investigating the feasibility of in situ characterizations; - see Sensitive Tephra Analysis.

For the fluid-precipitated zeolites, we are conducting a Reconnaissance Survey of zeolite compositions using contrasting samples from all over the world, validating the procedures and linking to fluid modelling capabilities.

Fundamental science - To help with interpretation of the new data on zeolite compositions, and to explore potential industrial applications, we are designing some preliminary experiments on mineral-fluid interactions, which will provide fundamental, predictive, reference data on zeolite minerals and their responses to rare earth solutes.

New and noteworthy

Bayan Obo REE-deposit publications now available

(1)  L. S. CAMPBELL , W. COMPSTON, K. N. SIRCOMBE and C. C. WILKINSON (2014). Zircon from the East Orebody of the Bayan Obo Fe-Nb-REE deposit, China, and SHRIMP ages for...

The Lanthanides: Seminar/Workshop event at Manchester, 2nd April

SoS-REAMS will be exploring cross-disciplinary capabilities and scope for research on lanthanide materials and solutes , and their characterisation and properties . Wednesday 2nd April...

NERC-IAA success

The SoS-REAMS team (Campbell and Polya) have been awarded a "Relationship Incubator" grant under the NERC-IAA scheme. As part of this, the Mineral Inustry Research Organisation (MIRO) shall help...

REE supply chain issues

A report on the Geology to Metallurgy of Critical Rare Earths workshop that took place in September 2013 is now available from    ...

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[color=#000000] [/color]Mineralized carbonatite: We hope to "case study test" our [url=https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/ree-in-alkaline-mineral-systems/documents?p_p_auth=olhFU2Hu&p_p_id=20&p_p_life...

Latest news

REE Processing Relevance: Abstracts available

Three abstracts from the REAMS' Lanthanides' Event have been uploaded: Find them in → ...

Bayan Obo REE-deposit publications now available

(1)  L. S. CAMPBELL , W. COMPSTON, K. N. SIRCOMBE and C. C. WILKINSON (2014). Zircon...

Reams of REAMS' outputs continue...

Our robust new WDS (microprobe) protocol now enables major element data to be combined...

Upcoming events

Mon 09 Jun 2014

"Zeolite 2014" International Conference

Jun 09 / 09:00 until Jun 13 / 17:00

One of the Invited Speakers is Dr. Linda Campbell of SoS-REAMS: "Applications of zeolite science...

From REE in Alkaline Mineral Systems

Mon 21 Oct 2013

Exploration, Resource and Mining Geology Conference 2013

Oct 21 / 09:00 until Oct 22 / 17:00

Cardiff, Wales, UK

From REE in Alkaline Mineral Systems

Wed 02 Apr 2014

SoS-REAMS cross-disciplinary workshop on the lanthanides

14:00 until 16:30

"Lanthanide-bearing materials and solutes: characterisation and properties." Speaker details to...

From REE in Alkaline Mineral Systems

A little about REE in Alkaline Mineral Systems

This SoS Minerals project looks to understand the remote signatures of buried mineral deposits, for efficient discovery based on novel geological hypothesis. It also aims to make environmental improvements to exploitation of rare earth ores.