Slovak-Korean collaboration in the field of geoscience research at the Earth Science Institute SAS

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At the beginning of May, Dr. Keewook Yi from South Korea visited the Earth Science Institute of SAS to participate on the terrain work oriented to extraction and reconnaissance of samples aimed to be precisely dated in his laboratory in Korean Basic Science Institute (KBSI). In his lecture on May 7, 2019 he presented the possibilities of material and geoscience research in KBSI, which carry out similar mission than Slovak Academy of Sciences – meaning that it’s an institution of basic research open to a close cooperation with universities and industrial partners. Dr. Keewook Yi is a head of the SHRIMP (sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe) laboratory, which is a method able to date minerals in very low volumes using isotopes. This method of mineral dating is based on exact quantification of isotopes of uranium or lead due to the stable speed of their breakdown (closing of the system). It’s an exceptionally precise method of isotope analysis able to work with before unimaginable small amount of material – it can detect only 10-13 g of uranium (0,0000000000006 g) or 10-14 g of isotope of lead (0.00000000000003 g). Such modern method of dating is a valuable help for geologists enabling them to resolve even the most complicated conundrums of our geological past.

Dr. Keewook Yi came to Slovakia within a bilateral project APVV, because as a geologist he was interested to visit locations, the samples from which he was able to date last year in his laboratory in Korea. He cooperated with a team from the Earth Science Institute to collect and prepare samples from localities Banská Štiavnica, and mountain ranges Tribeč and Tatra in order to better understand the development of their geological structure. For example, currently we understand very well the circumstances of the granite formation during Paleotethys ocean subduction, however, we are missing records from the phase of continental Gondwana and Laurasia collision. The chosen mountain ranges represent a good basis for such type of studies. In case of Štiavnica stratovolcano, which used to be a 4,000 m-high volcano in the area of present city Banská Štiavnica, Dr. Yi’s research team is trying to clarify the development of individual phases of its volcanic activity that occurred 15 to 12 million years ago. It is a classical petrochronological work important also for understanding of origin of some important ore deposits in the area.
The dating of samples from Slovakia in KBSI is to be continued. This year we also plan to employ another unique equipment in this Institute, which can analyse the isotopes of oxygen and hafnium in the samples, which bring the information about the origin of their source material in the far geological past. The progress of the bilateral cooperation between KBSI and The Earth Science Institute of SAS is so far very promising and acquired results will for sure contribute to the understanding of geological processes, which formed our land. Our Korean partner showed interest in continuation this collaboration even after the termination of the APVV bilateral project.

Text: Igor Broska
Photo: Ján Madarás