​​Earth Sciences

Experimental Petrology Laboratory

This laboratory, unique in Africa is equipped to carry out experiments on rock systems at the high temperatures and pressures of partial melting and magmatic processes within Earth's crust and upper mantle. Three diffferent types of autoclaves are available: 1. non-end-loaded, solid-media, piston-cylinder machines that can be used for experiments at 0.2 to 4.0 GPa and temperatures ranging from 600 to 1400 °C; 2. An internally-heated gas pressure vessel with the possibility of redox control using a hydrogen diffusion membrane in fluid saturated experiments. This equipment can operate from 0.1 to 0.5 GPa and 600 to 1200 °C; Water pressurized, externally heated cold-seal vessels that can function up to 800 C at 0.1 GPa and 700 C at 0.2 GPa .

Contact Person: Prof Gary Stevens

The following post-graduate student projects either currently use the laboratory of have used it in the last few years:

  • Mbali Mthethwa:  An experimental investigation of the “fate" of entrained peritectic minerals during adiabatic ascent of S-type granite magmas. MSc,  graduated.
  • Sara Zarrebini: An experimental investigation into the 'fate' of entrained peritectic minerals in I-type granite magmas intruded at below 2kbar. MSc, graduated.
  • Sara Burness: Pyroxene stability within kimberlite magma in the upper mantle: An experimental investigation. MSc, graduated.
  • Tahnee Otto: An experimental investigation of the petrogenesis of chromite within the Rustenberg Layered Suite of the Bushveld Complex. PhD, in progress.
  • Sara Burness: Sulphur metasomatism of the mantle. PhD, in progress. (*see images from this project)
  • ​Tanisha Shultz: Gold solubility in tolalitic melts. MSc, in progress.​


photo a and b.jpg 

*caption at bottom of page 

photo c and d.jpg 

*caption at bottom of page  

 photo e and f.jpg 

Caption for images a-f: BSE images of run producs from experiments investigating the partial melting of sulphide-bearing metasomatised mantle. Cpx = clinopyroxene; Grt = garnet; CC-Dolss = calcite-dolomite solid solution; MSS = mono-sulphide solid solution; Melts, LSil = quenched silicate melt, LSil-C = quenched silicate-carbonate melt, LS = quenched sulphide melt. The experimental conditions are indicated in the text box at top right of each image. The experiments were conducted in graphite-lined palladium-silver capsules using a non-end-loaded piston-cylinder apparatus.

These images were generated as part of the PhD study of Sara Burness and were copied from Burness et al., 2017, Poster No. 11IKC-4591, 11th International Kimberlite Conference, Gaborone, Botswana.