2021–2025       Towards understanding endogenous ore formation on Mars: new data from ExoMars/TGO and geochemical fingerprinting of meteorites. Funding: National Science Centre Poland, program OPUS 19, grant no. 2020/37/B/ST10/01420 (912,408 PLN).

Ore-forming processes on Mars resemble those on Earth but little is known about the distribution and chemical composition of the Martian metal deposits. Precious metals are excellent electrical conductors and will be indispensable in the development of future Martian bases. By combining large-scale geological orbital data with high-resolution mineralogical data from a variety of Martian meteorites, this project brings us closer to understanding ore formation on Mars.

2021–2022       Towards prospecting ore deposits on Mars: remote sensing of the planetary field anlogue in the Rio Tinto mining area, Spain. Funding: Europlanet2024-research infrastructure, grant no. 20-EPN2-020 (5,000 EUR).

We will establish a test field in the Rio Tinto mining area to remotely sense for sulfide deposits in a Martian analogue site on Earth. Our aim is to determine abundance thresholds needed to detect from the orbit major sulfide phases on Mars and identify the most expected spectral features of exposed ore deposits. A systematic study such as this will provide theoretical constraints for more efficient use of current infrared spectrometers and will help design new spectrometers to detect ore minerals on Mars. These results will be of contextual significance to the rapidly developing field of asteroid and planetary mining.

2020–2023       Sulfide differentiation and enrichment in metals at the lower oceanic crust and crust-mantle transition zone: ICDP OmanDP holes. Funding: National Science Centre Poland, program OPUS 17, grant no. 2019/33/B/ST10/03016 (797,281 PLN).

We investigate a long section of the lower oceanic crust, Moho Transition Zone, and upper mantle recently drilled from the Semail Ophiolite in the frame of International Continental Scientific Drilling (ICDP) program (OmanDP project). Our project will help to identify key magmatic processes for pre-concentration of metals in higher levels of the lithosphere, where they can be efficiently leached by hydrothermal fluids leading to the formation of large-scale SMS (oceans) and volcanogenic massive sulfides (VMS; land) deposits.

Layered gabbro outcrop at Somerah, Semail Ophiolite, Oman (photo: M. Grabowska, Co-Investigator of the project)


2019–2021       Sulfide differentiation and enrichment in metals in the lower oceanic crust: IODP Holes 735B & U1473A, Atlantis Bank, Southwest Indian Ridge. Funding: InterRidge (5,000 USD).

We correlate sulfide–oxide rich intervals found in the lower crust section of two International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Holes 1473A and 735B located 2 km away from each other. Such an extensive magmatic horizon of ore minerals may be a source of metals for seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits, and explain why SMSs with the highest metal grades occur on top of oceanic core complexes where lower crustal rocks can be effectively mined by hydrothermal fluids.


Jakub Ciążela in the geochemical lab of Joides Resolution during IODP Expedition 360 to drill Hole U1473A