Archive for March, 2019

Iron ore deposits could be easier to find

It may be best to strike while the iron’s hot, but you’ve got to find it first.

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For many years finding large deposits of the world’s most important commodity after oil has been difficult and largely haphazard.

Small iron deposits are common but the giant deposits that the big miners are looking for are much harder to find.

The problem is that geologists still don’t know how those huge ore bodies form and that makes it hard to look for them.

But three new studies may help solve those mysteries.

The University of Alberta’s Professor Jeremy Richards and Dr Jamie Wilkinson of the UK’s Imperial College have been examining iron ore deposits above subduction zones, where continental plates slide under each other.

Prof Richards argues that large iron ore deposits form when warm magma pockets are shaped by distinct plate movements, surrounded by reactive rocks and are regularly flushed with fresh magma and groundwater.

However Dr Wilkinson thinks large ore deposits form when underground magma is saturated with sulphide, which concentrates the tiny trace amounts of metal in the magma.

Heat then binds the tiny molecules of the same metal together until masses of gold, iron and nickel and other metals are formed.

He says those masses cool and large metal deposits are left.

Macquarie University’s Professor William Griffin, who’s been studying the distribution of diamond, gold and metal deposits, believes that the earth’s mantle holds the key.

He thinks the mantle acts like a mould that guides upwelling magma into pockets.

If those pockets and the passages that lead to them from the earth’s core are a certain shape and size, and made out of certain materials, then large ore deposits are likely to form when the magma cools.

The three reviews are the first to give a geochemical footprint for miners and geologists to look for when searching for large ore deposits.

They are part of a collection of articles on economic geology, and argue that the search for giant deposits could potentially be made more efficient.

The studies will be published in the UK journal Nature Geoscience on Monday.

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German Kerber wins Linz tennis crown

Top-seeded Angelique Kerber won her first title of the season and third overall on Sunday by defeating two-time winner Ana Ivanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) at the Linz tennis tournament in Austria.

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It was Kerber’s third final of the year after losing to Russia Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Monterrey in April and Czech Petra Kvitova in Tokyo two weeks ago. The 10th-ranked German improved her record in finals to 3-5.

“This is an incredible feeling,” said Kerber, who qualified for the season-ending WTA Championships by reaching the semi-finals this week. “This victory means a lot to me. I will go to the ‘masters’ with lots of confidence now.”

Kerber didn’t initially intend to play in Linz but was given a late wildcard entry to replace Kvitova after the Wimbledon winner pulled out with a back injury.

The former top-ranked Ivanovic, who won the event in 2008 and ’10, appeared in her first final since winning her 11th career title at Bali in Indonesia in late 2011.

“It was a real close final,” said Kerber, who missed three match points at 5-3 in the second set. “I became a bit twitchy toward the end. My thoughts were elsewhere during these match points. Later, I managed to focus on each point again.”

Ivanovic battled back from two breaks down to level at 4-4 in the opening set before dropping her serve for a third time.

The third-seeded Serb made another comeback in the second set. After denying Kerber victory at 5-3, she missed two set points while leading 6-5 and two more in the tiebreaker as the German reeled off four straight points to close out.

“I was too passive and didn’t find my rhythm,” Ivanovic said. “I got my chances but I couldn’t take them.”

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Killer Indian cyclone wreaks havoc

Aid agencies in India say a mass evacuation saved thousands of lives when India’s strongest cyclone in 14 years struck at the weekend, but warn that around a million will still need help after their homes and livelihoods were destroyed.

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Cyclone Phailin was dissipating rapidly after pounding the states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh overnight Saturday to Sunday, uprooting trees, overturning trucks, flattening homes and knocking out power lines.

Seventeen people were killed in Orissa and one further south in Andhra Pradesh, government and disaster management officials said.

“The 17 deaths were due to people being crushed by falling trees, walls, roofs,” R.S. Gopalan, the senior state government official co-ordinating relief operations in Orissa said.

Director General of Police Prakesh Mishra says the relatively low number of casualties is in contrast to the 10,000 killed by Odisha’s last big cyclone in 1999.

“There’s a huge sense of relief in this part of India that despite the ferocity of the cyclone that the death toll remains at only 7. The government has received kudos from international aid organisations that are on the ground. Everybody involved in the rescue effort has said that this time around the government acted in a very orderly manner.”

Casualties were minimised after the biggest evacuation in the country’s history saw a million people huddle in shelters and government buildings as the ferocious storm took hold.

Some 600,000 people were left homeless in Orissa after the country’s biggest cyclone in 14 years swept through 14,000 villages, the state’s special relief commissioner, Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra said.

Families, who only hours earlier fled to shelters, returned to discover what was left of their flimsy homes.

Many, holding their children, picked through the debris. Others simply sat on the ground in their village clutching bags of possessions.

“I lost my house and also a small shaving shop, I lost everything,” Janardan, 32, who uses one name, said from inside his tiny dwelling in Gopalpur.

The cyclone collapsed the roof, leaving Janardan and his wife to begin the clean-up.

The worst affected area, around the town of Gopalpur in Orissa where the eye of Phailin came ashore packing winds of 200 kilometres an hour, was still without power as emergency services rushed to help people living there.

Hundreds of workers from the country’s National Disaster Response Force fanned out across the region, clearing away fallen trees from roads, mangled power poles and other debris, a statement said.

Other relief workers distributed food at shelters and treated the injured, while authorities worked to restore power and other services.

“Most of Orissa should have electricity back within 12 hours. Water supplies should also be restored in much of the state later tonight,” state official Gopalan said.

Around 1000 people marooned by the storm surge in a village in Andhra Pradesh were rescued by boat, a top disaster response official told a press conference.

At the same press conference, vice chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Marri Shashidhar Reddy put the total death toll slightly lower, at 14, with 13 killed in Orissa and one in Andhra Pradesh.

He praised relief workers for keeping the “death toll to a bare minimum”.

More than 8000 people were killed in 1999 when a cyclone hit the same region, devastating crops and livestock. The area took years to recover.

This time round, the massive evacuation operation, which officials said was the biggest in Indian history, appeared to have succeeded in minimising casualties.

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Merrick upbeat despite opening loss

A little dry Scottish humour from new coach Ernie Merrick couldn’t quite disguise his disappointment at Wellington Phoenix’s season-opening 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar.

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“The goals were off-side,” he said, walking into the post-match press conference at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

“The referee was a nightmare, the linesman got it wrong every time.”

A more serious assessment of a sometimes scrappy, but often entertaining match followed.

Stein Huysegems’ 22nd-minute strike gave the Phoenix an early lead after they dominated the opening exchanges, but defensive lapses at either end of the second half gifted Brisbane the match with goals to Besart Berisha and Ivan Franjic.

Missing six front-line players to international duties and injury, the Phoenix struggled at times against the in-form Roar, but Merrick says there is still plenty to be positive about.

“I thought our midfield just ran the show in the first half – Brisbane couldn’t get out of their half for the first 10-20 minutes, and we should have taken more advantage on the score sheet,” he said

Vince Lia, Manny Muscat and Carlos Hernandez did all that was asked of them while young Jason Hicks worked hard in an unfamiliar role on the left and got forward well to support Huysegems.

Wellington’s inexperience at the back, stand-in skipper Ben Sigmund apart, proved costly. Luke Adams, Reece Caira and Michael Boxall struggled to contain Roar playmakers Thomas Broich, Berisha and Franjic and third-string goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley, struck down with a virus, was kept busy.

“In the second half, they scored in the first minute and they scored in the last minute. In between, we gave as much as we took but we were running out of legs,” Merrick said.

His focus remains not only on developing a more attacking style of football, but also on growing the undoubted young talent in the Phoenix ranks.

“With young players, you’ve got to give them a chance to develop and grow in the team,” he said.

“We’re assembling a squad, not a first 11. Today showed we’re definitely on the right track, but we have to get better.”

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Winterbottom reflects on Bathurst win

Driving back to Sydney on Monday will give Mark Winterbottom a chance to reminisce on how far he has come.

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But the the Ford driver says his maiden Bathurst 1000 triumph has been a reminder of just how far he can go in V8 Supercars.

Winterbottom admitted he would get a little sentimental on the triumphant return to his hometown when he drives past Lithgow where it all began for the Ford gun.

“My first race was go karts at Lithgow, it was definitely a special place,” he said.

“I used to be nervous going to Lithgow. I used to be sick every time because of the winding road and nerves as a kid.

“Now we go up to Bathurst and I still get sick because of the nerves.

“But there are great memories there.”

And now Winterbottom has fond Mount Panorama memories.

For 10 years Winterbottom made the three hour return trek to Sydney a broken man.

He had never made the podium let alone won at Bathurst.

In 2007 Winterbottom led by 20 seconds with 12 laps left, but then slid off the track in the wet.

However, Winterbottom all but exorcised his demons when he held out Holden arch rival and four-time champion Jamie Whincup’s final lap lunge in the six-hour, 161-lap epic to win by just 0.47 seconds.

It marked the Blue Oval’s first Bathurst win since 2008 and 18th overall, plus Winterbottom’s factory-backed Ford Performance Racing team’s maiden triumph on the mountain.

For so long Winterbottom had wondered what might have been.

Now he is dreaming of what is to come.

“I have been trying so hard,” said Winterbottom, who was partnered by Steven Richards.

“To finally win it, and the way we did it, it is just amazing.

“It is going to sink in later I am sure but it does make you think about the championship.”

The win lifted Winterbottom one spot to third on the V8 standings, 142 points behind Whincup ahead of the final endurance round on the Gold Coast in a fortnight.

It also provided redemption six years after Winterbottom let victory slip through his grasp as his frustrated co-driver Richards looked on.

Winterbottom said he did it as much for Richards – now a three-time Bathurst winner – as himself and Ford.

Not that Richards was much of an inspiration in the dying laps with Whincup looming large in Winterbottom’s rearview mirror.

“I kept seeing the big screen and he was making me nervous,” Winterbottom said of Richards who cut an anxious figure when TV crews kept cutting to him in pit lane during the tense finish.

“Coming out of The Chase there is a big TV there and they kept panning to him.

“But there was lot of other stuff going on. I felt under pressure. I was fighting the car.

“There have been big moments in my career, whether it be go karts, getting a scholarship with Ford… but nothing as big as this (win).”

The tense sprint home may have felt like an eternity to Winterbottom but technically the race was completed in record time (six hours, 11 minutes 27.93 seconds), eclipsing the 2010 mark by 84 seconds.

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