Cobalt recovery from Zambian slags

Cobalt is one of the most important critical metals which could be potentially extracted from the old metallurgical slags in the Zambian Copperbelt. The slags from Luanshya, the oldest mining and smelting site in the Copperbelt, contain up to 5990 ppm Co (median: 2370 ppm). The detailed mineralogical investigation combined with the sulfuric acid leaching simulating hydrometallurgical recovery indicated that up to 67% of Co can be extracted from slag in a short period of time (24 h). However, despite the dramatic increase of Co prices on the global market, its recovery from the Luanshya slags appears to be non-economical due to the high costs of the mechanical and chemical processing of the slag materials. The paper is freely available via open access:

Ettler V., Mihaljevič M., Drahota P., Kříbek B., Nyambe I., Vaněk A., Penížek V., Sracek O., Natherová V. (2022): Cobalt-bearing copper slags from Luanshya (Zambian Copperbelt): Mineralogy, geochemistry, and potential recovery of critical metals. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 237, 106987. (DOI)

Workshop on Mineral Resources

Cristian Quinones, geologist-geostatistician from Chile will stop in Prague during his lecture tour at European universities and will give a one-day workshop on “Practices for Mineral Resources Statement and Study Cases”. The course will take place on 3rd May 2020 (9-17h) in Ložiskové sbírky room, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Albertov 6 building. Topics covered include International Codes, Audits, QAQC, Geological Models, Exploratory Data Analyses. For registration, ask the organizer Dr. Jiří Zachariáš (e-mail). This workshop is partly supported by the Center for Geosphere Dynamics.

Virtual PhD student conference

The PhD students associated with the Center for Geosphere Dynamics organize a virtual conference on 21 April 2022 at 2 pm. Keynote lecture will be given by Dr. Michael Petronis from New Mexico Highlands University (USA). For the ZOOM link ask the organizers here. Program and book of abstract can be downloaded here.


Do forest fires alter the Pb isotopic composition of topsoils?

We compared analogous healthy topsoils and ones burned by fires of different temperatures for their elemental and isotopic Pb content. The fires only affected the top 5 cm of the soil. We found that soils affected by low-temperature fires had increased Pb compared to healthy soils. The accumulation of Pb was not observed in the soils exposed to higher temperatures. The same results were found in ash. Lead isotopic ratios were affected by the fires. These increased in soils affected by higher temperatures but didn’t change with the low temperatures. We proposed that the temperature dependence is due to anthropogenic Pb (206Pb/207Pb < 1.16) volatilizing at lower temperatures than geogenic Pb (206Pb/207Pb > 1.19). This work suggests that it may be possible to determine the temperature of a forest fire from the Pb isotopic signatures of the burned materials.

Baieta R., Vieira A.M.D, Vaňková M., Mihaljevič M. (2022). Effects of forest fires on soil lead elemental contents and isotopic ratios. Geoderma 414, 115760. (DOI)

Raman spectroscopic search for scytonemin and gloeocapsin in endolithic colonizations in large gypsum crystals

New paper reports groundbreaking findings on the distribution of non-carotenoid pigments in gypsum endoliths. In the study, Raman microspectrometry was used for analysis of UV-protective pigments of dark-pigmented endolithic colonizations in gypsum outcrops from Sicily, Poland and Israel. Colonized samples were investigated using 445-, 532- and 780-nm excitation lasers. Scytonemin and gloeocapsin were detected at all studied sites. Major Raman signatures of scytonemin were detected at 1593, 1552, 1438 and 1173 cm−1. Gloeocapsin shows characteristic Raman bands similar to anthraquinone-based parietin of lichens: at 1665, 1575, 1378, 1310 and 465 cm−1. Scytonemin and gloeocapsin are highly specific for cyanobacteria and can be thus used as biomarkers for certain taxa of cyanobacteria in geobiological and astrobiological studies. Detection of such pigments by Raman spectroscopy combining three excitation wavelengths allows gathering more information about the composition of endolithic consortia in their natural habitats using fast and non-invasive methods.

Němečková K., Culka A., Němec I., Edwards H. G. M., Mareš J., Jehlička J. (2021): Raman spectroscopic search for scytonemin and gloeocapsin in endolithic colonizations in large gypsum crystals. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 52, 2633. (DOI)

Marek Tuhý successfully completed his PhD

On Thursday 30th September 2021 Marek Tuhý successfully completed his PhD and defended his PhD thesis entitled “Wildfires in polluted areas: mineralogical transformations and remobilization of metal(loid)s“. The thesis was supervised by prof. Vojtěch Ettler and reviewed by Dr. Isabel Campos (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Dr. Tomáš Navrátil (Institute of Geology, CAS). Marek will continue as a Junior Researcher affiliated with the Center for Geosphere Dynamics. Congratulations!

Accelerated disintegration of in situ disconnected portions of sandstone outcrops

The article presents a new look on sandstone weathering/recession characterized by rapid disintegration of portions of the rock massif which are no longer physically connected with the main rock mass, though still in situ. A set of field and laboratory measurements testing mechanical and hydraulic properties of the rock were applied to compare the disconnected portions with those of the surrounding rock mass. Also, physical weathering experiments were performed to characterize the effect of confinement on the breakdown rate of several sandstone samples. The surfaces of disconnection follow bedding planes, planar elements of other sedimentary structures, subhorizontal fractures and stress shadows on subvertical cliff faces. Weathered surfaces of the disconnected portions show noticeably impaired mechanical properties, a faster capillary water absorption and a higher surface moisture compared to the much less weathered surfaces of the surrounding rock mass. Physical experiments demonstrated that a confinement by the surrounding rock mass may considerably delay the loosening of rock during weathering. The much faster disintegration rates of the disconnected portions of rock compared to their surroundings are explained by the fact that they are not confined and have a larger surface area.The recession rates of sandstone surfaces with disconnected portions are highly variable both in space and time and their genesis is demonstrated by two suggested conceptual models.

Filippi M., Slavík M., Bruthans J., Weiss T., Řihošek J. (2021): Accelerated disintegration of in situ disconnected portions of sandstone outcrops. Geomorphology 391, 107897. (DOI)

New book on Metallurgical Slags

A new book entitled Metallurgical Slags: Environmental Geochemistry and Resource Potential edited by Nadine M. Piatak (USGS) and Vojtěch Ettler has been published by the prestigious publishing house, the Royal Society of Chemistry (link). Vojtech Ettler (co-) authored four of nine chapters in the book: Introduction: Metallurgical Slags – Environmental Liability or Valuable Resource? (DOI), Geochemistry and Mineralogy of Slags (DOI), Slag Leaching Properties and Release of Contaminants (DOI), and Environmental Impact of Slag Particulates (DOI). The support of the Center for Geosphere Dynamics is also acknowledged.