Oxford Researchers Work With Montserrat On Expedition To Explore Energy, Critical Metals Potential Of Volcanic Geofluids

The Government of Montserrat is collaborating with a multidisciplinary research team from the Oxford Martin Programme on Rethinking Natural Resources on a field study project to explore the country’s potential as a concurrent source of geothermal energy and critical metals.

The process of extracting geothermal power from geofluids beneath dormant volcanoes can lead to the generation of renewable energy as well as recovery of valuable minerals. The researchers will explore whether this dual process can ensure geothermal energy is economically viable, particularly through the simultaneous extraction of essential metals for a net-zero energy transition.

A team from the Oxford Martin Programme is currently on island as part of this exploratory work.

‘We are always happy to welcome researchers to Montserrat, especially on significant projects such as this one, which could reveal critical information about Montserrat’s geothermal potential and possibly inform future decisions on our transition to renewable energy. Additionally, this study has the ability to discover the islands potential as a source of  critical metals; an aspect which has not been previously explored,’ stated Minister of Energy, Dr. The Hon. Samuel Joseph.

The world’s volcanoes emit as much copper, lithium, gold and many other so-called critical metals in their volcanic plumes as is mined every day around the world. These are essential for the Net Zero energy transition, from the manufacture of batteries and electric vehicles, to the generation and transmission of renewable electricity.

The research team will aim to address the challenge of securely and sustainably meeting the demand for critical metals by identifying new deposits underneath the Soufrière Hills Volcano, developing eco-friendly and efficient extraction methods, and evaluating the social and environmental impacts.

Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Rethinking Natural Resources and Royal Society Research Professor at the University’s Department of Earth Sciences, Jonathan Blundy, said:

‘We are thankful to the Government of Montserrat for allowing us explore this potential from a variety of angles, including geological, economic, regulatory and social license. The programme’s ultimate aim is to develop a strategy for geothermal energy and metals co-recovery that is of benefit to the island of Montserrat in enabling their energy transition away from fossil fuels and also portable to other volcanic areas looking to develop geothermal energy.’

This research on Montserrat is expected to continue until October 2026. The research findings will be shared with the Government of Montserrat.

SOURCEGIU, Montserrat
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