Oxford researchers are setting out on a field trip to Montserrat to explore energy, critical metals potential of volcanic geofluids.

The multidisciplinary team from the Oxford Martin Programme on Rethinking Natural Resources and the University of Oxford is undertaking this project to transform the country's potential as a source of geothermal energy and vital metals.

Starting from May 27 until June 13, the researchers will study various locations in Montserrat, including test well sites, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Soufrière Hills Volcano, and the former capital city, Plymouth, tragically destroyed by the 1997 eruption.

Critical metals are significant in the Net Zero energy transition, utilised in manufacturing electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy generation.

Addressing the challenge of providing these elements securely and sustainably involves finding new deposits, developing environmentally friendly extraction methods, and reconsidering the social and environmental impacts of extractive industries.

Geofluids extracted from beneath dormant volcanoes boast the potential of generating renewable energy and recovering valuable minerals, making geothermal energy economically viable while providing vital metals.

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: "Working with the Government of Montserrat, we will 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."