Sophie Decrée

Senior Geologist
Geochemistry & Mineralogy

                             +32 2 627 4323


Since my PhD (completed at the ULB, Brussels, in 2008), my research interests are mostly focused on mineral resources.

I started my career with the study of a mining district in Tunisia, which hosts a diversity of base metal deposits (SEDEX, IOCG) related to Miocene magmatism.

Working then as post-doc researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa, I was interested in the Katanga Copperbelt. More precisely, I had the opportunity  to study the world-class supergene cobalt deposits and uranium deposits of the Copperbelt, bringing new insights into the formation and age of these ore deposits. Further investigations in Central Africa brought me to Burundi and the study of Neoproterozoic alkaline magmatic rocks and carbonatite, with a particular focus on the processes leading to the formation of related mineral occurrences/deposits (phosphates, Rare Earth Elements (REE), High Field Strength Elements).

Though being hired at the RBINS since 2014, I carried on working on alkaline complexes in Africa (i.e. the Paleoproterozoic Phalaborwa complex and related world-class phosphate deposit, South Africa), focusing more and more my works on the speciation and distribution of phosphates and REE in such systems, applying a variety of methods to unravel the superimposed processes (mostly through the study of apatite).

Similar approach was applied to the Archean carbonatite complex of Siilinjarvi (Finland), which is the only phosphate deposits exploited in Europe so far, and to various sedimentary phosphorites in Europe in the frame of the FRAME project (Forecasting and assessing Europe’s strategic raw materials needs; project funded by the European Program GeoERA-H2020).

Besides phosphate deposits of igneous and sedimentary origin, I am still interested in base and precious metal deposits, in Europe and worldwide (Archean rocks and mineralization in South Africa; Lower Paleozoic sulfide deposits in Belgium and China).

I am also involved in professional societies/groups related to my field of expertise, as the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral deposits, for which I am Promotion Manager (and Executive Council member), the Mineral Resources Expert Group  of EuroGeoSurveys and the Geological Society of Belgium.

Research group

Research interests

  • Geochemical tracing of critical raw materials, sources and processes
  • Genesis and characterization of magmatic and sedimentary phosphates and REE deposits and base metal deposits (in Europe and Africa)
  • Apatite, rare earth elements, base metals, strategic raw materials


Expertise in processes related to carbonatite and alkaline complex evolution, base metal deposits and apatite chemistry

Economic geology, geochemistry, mineralogy

Key publications

Decrée, S., Marignac, Ch., De Putter, Th., Deloule, E., Liégeois, J.-P., Demaiffe, D., 2008. Pb-Zn mineralizations in a Miocene regional extensional context: the case of the Sidi Driss and the Douahria ore deposits (Nefza mining district, N. Tunisia). Ore Geology Reviews, 34: 285-303.

Decrée, S., Deloule, E., Ruffet, G., Dewaele, S., Mees, F., Marignac, Ch., Yans, J., De Putter, Th., 2010. Geodynamic and climate controls in the formation of Mio–Pliocene world-class oxidized cobalt and manganese ores in the Katanga province, DR Congo. Mineralium Deposita, 45: 621–629.

Decrée, S., Deloule, E., De Putter, Th., Dewaele, S., Mees, F., Yans, J., Marignac, Ch., 2011. SIMS U–Pb dating of uranium mineralization in the Katanga Copperbelt: Constraints for the geodynamic context. Ore Geology Reviews, 40: 81-89.

Decrée, S., Baele, J.-M., De Putter, Th., Yans, J., Clauer, N., Dermech, M., Aloui, K., Marignac, Ch., 2013. The Oued Belif hematite-rich breccia (Nefza Mining District, NW Tunisia): a potential candidate for a Miocene small-scale iron oxide copper gold (IOCG) deposit in Northern Tunisia. Economic Geology, 108: 1425-1457.

Decrée, S., Boulvais, P., Cobert, C., Baele, J.M., Gardien, V., Tack, L., Demaiffe, D., 2015. Structurally-controlled hydrothermal alteration in the syntectonic Neoproterozoic Upper Ruvubu Alkaline Plutonic Complex (Burundi): Implications for REE and HFSE mobilities. Precambrian Research, 269: 281-295.

Decrée, S., Boulvais, P., Tack, L., André, L., Baele, J.M., 2016. Fluorapatite in carbonatite-related phosphate deposits: the case of the Matongo carbonatite (Burundi). Mineralium Deposita, 51: 453-466.

Decrée, S., Herwartz, D., Mercadier, J., Miján, I., de Bruffénil, V., Leduc, T., Lambert, O., 2018. The post-mortem history of a bone revealed by its trace element signature: The case of a fossil whale rostrum. Chemical Geology, 477: 137-150.

Decrée, S., Demaiffe, D., Tack, L., Nimpagaritse, G., De Paepe, P., Boulvais, P., Debaille, V., 2019. The Neoproterozoic Upper Ruvubu Alkaline Plutonic Complex (Burundi) revisited: large-scale syntectonic emplacement, magmatic differentiation and late-stage circulations of fluids. Precambrian Research, 325, 150-171.

Decrée, S., Cawthorn, G., Deloule, E., Mercadier, J., Frimmel, H., Baele, J.M., 2020. Unravelling the processes controlling apatite formation in the Phalaborwa Complex (South Africa) based on combined cathodoluminescence, LA-ICPMS and in-situ O and Sr isotope analyses. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 175(4), 1-31.

Decrée, S., Savolainen, M., Mercadier, J., Debaille, V., Höhn, S., Frimmel, H., & Baele, J. M. (2020). Geochemical and spectroscopic investigation of apatite in the Siilinjärvi carbonatite complex: Keys to understanding apatite forming processes and assessing potential for rare earth elements. Applied Geochemistry, 123, 104778.


Belgian Antarctic Meteorites: curation and research

BELSPO, 2012-2019
Role: Principal investigator

Disclosing the Antarctic basement by sampling ice field moraines

BELSPO BRAIN, 2017-2021
Role: Project partner

Forecasting and Assessing Europe’s Strategic Raw Materials needs

Geo-ERA EU H2020, 2018-2021 
Role: Leader of the work package “Critical Raw Materials in phosphate deposits, and associated black shales”

Belgian Antarctic Meteorites and Micrometeorites to document solar system

BELSPO BRAIN, 2017-2022
Role: Principal investigator

Tracing differentiation processes through siderophile elements, from meteorites to giant ore deposits project

BELSPO BRAIN 2019-2024
Role: Principal investigator

Antarctic Meteorites cUratioN, Digitalization and conservation

BELSPO BRAIN, 2015-2022
Role: Principal investigator