Festival of International Research and Partnerships: Earth, metals and our future
Professor John FH Thompson, Cornell University and PetraScience Consultants
Former BBMDVP Dr Thompson will give a presentation based on his visit in 2020 with his host Alison Rust, Professor in Volcanology in the School of Earth Sciences.
The Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professorship in 2019-21 facilitated three areas of collaboration, research and outreach related to Earth Science at the University of Bristol. These areas are well suited to the strength and breadth of the School of Earth Science and the major global challenges facing society.
The Earth is remarkable and dynamic planet that sustains life. Processes in the interior of the Earth melt rocks that rise to the surface to form volcanoes, an area of expertise at Bristol. The liquid rocks, or magmas, produce fluids and gases and interact with ground waters within the crust. In some cases, this resulted in the concentration of metals within rocks at levels that permit economic extraction. Our combined efforts will improve the understanding of the concentration process allowing us to better predict the location of these metal concentrations.
Metals associated with the processes discussed above, such as copper, nickel, cobalt and lithium, are in high demand for electrification related to the energy transition and efforts to mitigate climate change. In particular, these metals are critical for electric cars, battery storage and renewable energy. To meet the demand, we will have to discover new resources and develop new extractive operations in the most responsible and sustainable way possible. Research that leads to a better understanding of the distribution of metals in rocks, combined with sensors, data analytics and new collaborative approaches will be required to meet these goals.
Dr Thompson divides his time between Cornell University, where he was the Wold Professor of Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability (2013-18), and Vancouver, BC where he provides strategic analysis and advice related to exploration, mining and sustainability. In 2019, he completed his term at Cornell but continues to have research and advisory roles at the university. John has over 35 years of experience with the minerals industry and related research.