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Professor Chris MacLeod

Professor Chris MacLeod


+44 (0)29 2087 4332
+44 (0)29 2087 4326
2.23, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Available for postgraduate supervision



  • oceanic detachment faults: deformation mechanisms, life cycle, 3D extent; magma-tectonic-hydrothermal interactions
  • lower crustal accretion and lithospheric architecture at slow- and ultraslow-spreading ridges
  • magma chamber processes and mechanisms of construction of the lower crust at fast-spreading mid-ocean ridges (Hess Deep, Oman ophiolite)
  • geodynamic setting of ophiolites and relationship to intraoceanic subduction initiation
  • limits and limitations of the mid-ocean ridge–ophiolite analogy


  • Professor, Cardiff University (2009-present)
  • Chair ESSAC (Science Support & Advisory Committee of the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling, in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program) (2005-07)
  • Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University (1995-2009)
  • NERC Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Oceanographic Sciences Deacon Laboratory/University of Leicester/Cardiff University: “Application of borehole imaging techniques to structural geological studies with the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP): structure of the lower oceanic crust in Hess Deep” (1993-95)
  • NERC Post-doctoral Research Associate, Institute of Oceanographic Sciences Deacon Laboratory: “Tectonic evolution of the Lau Basin, SW Pacific, from structural studies of ODP core and geophysical well logs” (1991-93)
  • Open University Research Fellow: “Geological evolution of the Southern Troodos Transform Fault Zone, Cyprus” (1990-91)
  • Royal Society European Science Exchange Fellow, Université de Montpellier 2, France: “Oceanic spreading axis segmentation in the Oman ophiolite” (1989-90)
  • PhD, Open University: “Tectonic Evolution of the Eastern Limassol Forest Complex, Troodos Ophiolite, Cyprus” (1988)
  • BSc Geology, Durham (1984)






























I teach classroom modules in general geology, plate tectonics and geodynamics, to undergraduates at all levels, and supervise Masters-level student research projects. I lead geoscience field courses in Cyprus and Great Britain, and supervise geological mapping projects worldwide.

I conduct observation-based, multi-disciplinary, meso-scale geological investigations of modern ocean floor and of ophiolites to address the processes of formation and deformation of ocean lithosphere at mid-ocean ridges. Whether on land or at sea I apply fine-scale mapping, structural geology, rock magnetics/palaeomagnetism, petrology, geochemistry and geophysics to answer fundamental geological questions about mid-ocean ridge processes. In the marine realm I have developed methodologies to reorientate IODP drillcore using wireline image logs and hence conduct structural geological/tectonic studies comparable to those applied on land. With the British Geological Survey I have also been prime mover behind the development and application of robotic seabed rock drills to collect directly orientated seafloor samples from hard-rock substrates.

. Current projects include:

  • SW Indian Ridge Lower Crust and Moho: drilling the lower crust and Moho at an ultraslow spreading ridge (International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 360:
  • Mid-Atlantic Ridge 13°N: multidisciplinary seismic investigation plus near-bottom mapping and sampling of oceanic core complexes to investigate detachment fault processes; also hydrothermal circulation and ultramafic-hosted mineralisation at slower-spreading mid-ocean ridges
  • Hess Deep, eastern equatorial Pacific: ROV sampling of the Hess Deep rift valley to decipher magma chamber processes beneath the fast-spreading East Pacific Rise, by means of a petrological, geochemical and microstructural study of a reconstructed lower crustal section
  • Oman ophiolite: (1) quantitative investigations of the limits and limitations of the Oman ophiolite–East Pacific Rise analogy; (2) geodynamics of the Oman ophiolite and implications for intraoceanic subduction initiation; (3) magma chamber models and lower crustal accretion mechanisms at fast-spreading ridges
  • Troodos ophiolite: (1) structure of the upper ocean crust and relationship between tectonism and magmatism during spreading in the presence of active detachment faulting; (2) transform fault processes, including palaeoseismicity and fluid flow
  • borehole core–image log integration for core reorientation, and applications for structural and palaeomagnetic studies with IODP

Some of my fundamental research on seafloor spreading and nature of the ocean lithosphere formed at mid-ocean ridges has been incorporated into the UK National Curriculum in geology for ages 14-18. It is now being taught in geology and geography classes in schools across the UK and worldwide: case studies "a new view of searfloor spreading" and "what is the Moho?", as examples of science in action and hypothesis testing of theories as fundamental as that of plate tectonics itself.  I have established a web site "" as a resource for teachers to assist them both in delivering the learning materials and in helping convey the practicalities and realities of modern scientific research. 


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

- mid-ocean ridge processes from the study of modern ocean floor samples and data

- mid-ocean ridge processes from study of ophiolites

- marginal basin processes, 'infant arc' and subduction initiation processes

Past projects

- Role of the axial melt lens in crustal accretion at fast-spreading mid-ocean ridges (Matthew Loocke; co-supervisor)

- The distribution and behaviour of Se and Te in mafic volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits (Andrew Martin; co-supervisor)

- Unravelling the kinematic evolution of segmented rift systems (Alodie Bubeck; co-supervisor)

- Volcanology of the Troodos ophiolite (Cyprus) and mechanisms of accretion of the upper oceanic crust (Ella Young)

- Magmatic and crustal evolution of the northern Oman–United Arab Emirates ophiolite (Richard Lilly)

- Geochemical mapping of the extrusive sequence of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus: an investigation into the relationship between lava compositions and proximity to a palaeo-subduction zone and a palaeo-transform fault (Charles Wake; co-supervisor)

- Processes of lower crustal accretion beneath intermediate- to fast-spreading ocean ridges: constraints from the Wadi Abyad section of the Oman ophiolite (Richard Thomas)

- Accretion of the lower crust of the Troodos ophiolite (Graham Banks)

- Application of palaeostress techniques to analysis of subsurface data (Tobore Orife; co-supervisor)