Natural phosphates (sedimentary and igneous phosphate rocks) are a critical,
non-renewable raw material that is pivotal to fertilizer production for crop growth and worldwide food security. Phosphates are unevenly distributed at the Earth surface and the resource is concentrated in a handful of countries, notably Morocco – whose share is expected to increase in the next decades as a result of its comparatively high reserve-to-production ratio. However, the actual amount of remaining phosphate rock reserves and resources worldwide is still an issue of speculation and their assessment will require further efforts from geologists.
Moreover, beyond reserve estimates, phosphates rocks provide opportunities for a wide range of research topics, either fundamental or applied (or both), involving several sub-disciplines of the geosciences, such as sedimentology, sequence & chemo-stratigraphy, (micro)paleontology, (bio) geochemistry, mineralogy, remote sensing, (hydro)geophysics, and hydrogeology.
Major research issues include, for instance: