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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Pb-Zn mineralisation within the Limerick Basin (SW Ireland): A role for volcanism?

Currently Active: 

Exploration of the Limerick Basin, a part of the Irish Orefield by Teck between 2007 and 2011, has intersected several Carboniferous basaltic diatremes which erupted through the limestone stratigraphy. Diatremes are irregular cone shaped bodies that can intrude up to 2.5 km into the country rock. Most of the ore is concentrated in Black Matrix Breccias (BMB) which appear to have a close spatial and temporal association with but has previously thought to be unrelated to the volcanism. These diatremes are part of a larger regional tectonic and volcanic northeast to southwest trend.

Figure 1
Figure 1


The primary objectives of this research are:

  • Characterise the diatremes to help close a gap in the literature for basaltic diatremes
  • Determine whether the diatremes are related to the extrusive Knockroe volcanic Formation
  • Determine the relationship between the diatremes and Limerick Pb-Zn deposits
  • Create a model for fluid flow and mineralisation through the diatremes
Figure 2
Figure 2

Results so far

  • Lack of vesiculation and eruptions of the diatremes into a shallow marine environment suggests a phreatomagmatic style of eruption
  • The presence of dolomite, a key BMB mineral and ore forming minerals in the base of the diatreme shows that mineralising and BMB fluids have utilised the diatreme
  • Diatremes show up as clear magnetic anomalies providing a way to find diatremes not exposed at the surface and any associated mineral deposits
Figure 3
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 4

Key Contacts

Holly Elliott (PhD Student)

Tom Gernon (Supervisor)

Steve Roberts (Supervisor)

Patrick Redmond (Teck) (Supervisor)


Redmond, Patrick (2010), The Limerick Basin: An important emerging subdistrict of the Irish Zn-Pb Orefield, SEG Newsletter, 82, 20-25

PhDs and Other Opportunities


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