Joe and Emily sit down with Lithium Americas geologist and volcanologist Tom Benson to learn about the origin of lithium. Tom also shares his origin story, passing through Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Colombia to the fateful article in Nature magazine on the volcanic origins of lithium that landed him his role at Lithium Americas.
Tom shares his passion for energy elements associated with volcanos because of the impact these minerals have on the world. Joe and Emily learn about super volcanos’ role in the formation of brine and pegmatite lithium deposits, and that lithium, like joe’s pizza preferences, can be found in areas with a thick crust – and unfortunately for Tom’s vacation preferences, not in Hawaii. Joe picks Tom’s brain on how the lithium leaches from volcanic material into brines and what patterns volcanic eruptions follow.
Tom shares his thoughts on the differences between industry and academia, and the lack of interest and resources in basic geological research in the United States among the younger generations. Joe brings up the topic of where the next wave of lithium projects are coming from, and the reality that an abundance of projects will never come on line because of where they are.
Joe and Tom share their discovery of the magic of coffee in recent years, and as always, the episode closes with rapid fire questions.