School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Mr Bonga Mzolo receives his prize from Mineralogical Association of SA Chairperson, Dr Deshenthree Chetty.

Prestigious Honours Research Award for Geology Graduate

Geological Sciences honours graduate Mr Bonga Mzolo has received the Mineralogical Association of South Africa (MINSA) Book Prize for research he did using mineralogical methods to improve the understanding of phosphogenesis on the outer shelf and upper slope in the sea off Port Elizabeth.

The award was presented at the MINSA annual meeting in Johannesburg.

‘I feel very honoured and grateful to receive an award of this magnitude as I worked very hard on my studies. Having that recognised is a great feeling. This is massive and will hopefully open doors for me in the future,’ said Mzolo.

Mzolo’s Honours research involved investigating the processes that contributed to the formation of phosphate-rich rocks dredged on the eastern margin (outer shelf-upper slope region) of South Africa using various geological and geochemical methods.

He says these rock types are known to be present on the south and western margins of southern Africa. The samples he studied indicated they were also abundant in the eastern margin.

‘This has huge significance academically as oceanic processes that are key in forming such rock types may often be influenced by the nutrient chemical and sedimentological characteristics of the continental shelf. It was interesting to uncover how they shaped development of these rocks in the eastern margin,’ said Mzolo.

He also noted that phosphate-rich rocks have substantial economic potential as phosphates for use in the manufacture of fertilisers and detergents.

‘This field of research incorporated some aspects of marine and economic geology; it was challenging and fun to work on and I relished the opportunity,’ he said.

Mzolo’s interest in Geology was sparked by a visit to UKZN’s Geology Education Museum in the Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC) when he was in Grade 12. He visited with the Protec INK group which assist learners from Ntuzuma, KwaMashu and Inanda with additional Science and Mathematics classes.

‘We did chemistry experiments and saw beautiful rocks and minerals which led to me wanting to know more about them,’ said Mzolo. ‘I followed up and found out there was a lot going on in the course that was aligned with my interests.’

Mzolo completed his undergraduate studies at UKZN, electing to study at the University because of its proximity to home and its reputation for excellent research.

He is currently looking for a job and hopes to further his studies once he has gained more experience. His goal is to eventually open a geoscience consulting company that will grow to be one of the biggest in Africa.

He thanked his supervisor, Professor Andrew Green, for encouraging him to constantly improve himself in his studies and bringing out the best in him as a student. He also received an abundance of encouragement from his lecturers, technical staff and his family.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Bonga Mzolo