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Economic Geology

We apply fundamental geological knowledge and research to help tackle major problems in the exploration and development of mineral and hydrocarbon resources.

The Economic Geology Research Group brings together scientists with diverse expertise in the geology of natural resources.

Geological resources are critical in meeting the challenge that global climate change poses to society. We use our expertise in geochemistry, structural geology, and geophysics to address some of the most pressing scientific questions around natural resources and the consequences of their exploitation.


We aim to understand the processes that lead to the accumulation of economic resources in the Earth’s crust. Such understanding is an essential first step in the sustainable and responsible use of those natural resources that will enable the transition to a green economy.

We are also interested in the downstream interactions between the exploration and mining industry and society, at scales from artisanal to industrial mining, which will facilitate a low carbon future for the Earth.


Mineral deposits

We employ our state-of-the-art analytical facilities to investigate the magmatic, tectonic, and hydrothermal processes that have led to the formation of ore deposits in different geodynamic environments and throughout Earth history. We use this knowledge to enable responsible mining, including amelioration of the environmental consequences of exploration and mining.

Collaborative working with industry is key to delivering impact from our research. We work with mining and exploration companies to improve the exploration, mining, and processing of metals such as the Platinum-Group Elements (PGE), rare earth elements, selenium, tellurium, cobalt and lithium that are essential for renewable power generation and storage. We also apply geochemical and structural geology exploration methods, including prospectivity analysis, to precious metal, base metal, rare metal, and gemstone deposits.

Hydrocarbon systems

We investigate mass wasting, fault mechanics and salt tectonics and their relationship to flow and trapping of oil and gas in sedimentary basins. Our research also addresses the environmental impacts of hydrocarbon exploration and production, including the development of CO2 capture, oil spill modelling and mitigation.

Application of three dimensional (3D) seismic technology to our large archive of data donated through collaboration with the petroleum industry and governments allows us to analyse depositional and deformational processes.


(PI = Principal Investigator, Co-I = Co-Investigator)

McDonald, I. (PI) Northern Limb 4 Dimension (NL4D. Anglo American funded research project 516560, £364,164.

McDonald, I. (PI) and Lissenberg, J. (Co-I) FAMOS (From Arc Magma to Ore System). NERC Research Highlight Topic award. NE/P017312/1, £187,538

McDonald, I. (PI) Isotope record of the Great Oxidation Event recorded in South Africa and implications for contamination and mineralisation in the Bushveld Complex. NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities Support award IP‐1677‐1116, £22,030

McDonald, I. (PI) TeaSe (Tellurium and Selenium Cycling and Supply). NERC Security of Supply of Minerals Programme. NE/M011615/1, £446,868 (

McDonald, I. (PI) The Platreef magma event at the world-class Turfspruit PGE deposit: Implications for mineralization processes and Bushveld Complex stratigraphy. PhD studentship award, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd, £68,409

McDonald, I. (PI) Link between magmatism and the volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) hydrothermal system; evidence from the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus. NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities Support award IP-1766-1117, £28,000

Alves, T. (PI) HUSKY-Newfoundland Basins, comprising the analysis of the tectono-stratigraphic evolution of outer shelf-upper slope basins offshore the Grand Banks, £74,500

Alves, T. (PI) PETROBRAS Atlantic Margins course, with emphasis on offshore Brazil, £7,500

Alves, T. (PI) Sea4All project (Erasmus+) for the study and modelling of marine pollution in the European Seas, £36,000 (

Alves, T. (PI) Husky-North Atlantic basins, aiming at understanding the evolution of North Atlantic Basins, £397,000

Alves, T. (Co-PI) PETROBRAS Santos Basin, focused on the study of structural features in pre-salt reservoirs in SE Brazil, £97,000

Alves, T. (PI) RAFTs Consortium (Total plus 5 other companies) – Raft and pre-salt geology offshore West Africa, £301,781

Alves, T. (PI) HUSKY-Paleostructural indicators of North Atlantic rifting, in which seismic and outcrop data were reviewed for this same purpose, £53,324

Alves, T. (PI) NEREIDs project (European Commission) for the study and modelling of oil spills in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, £46,000 (

Alves, T. (PI) HUSKY-Newfoundland Basins, comprising the analysis of the tectono-stratigraphic evolution of outer shelf-upper slope basins offshore the Grand Banks, £74,500

Alves, T. (PI) PETROBRAS Equatorial Margins, focused on the study of the Pará-Maranhão Basin offshore North Brazil, £25,000

Maier, W. (PI) Geochronology of Monchepluton. NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities Support award IP-1644-0516, £76,000

Alves, T. (PI) Husky – North Atlantic Evolution, reviewing the evolution of breakup sequences in the Mesozoic North Atlantic Ocean, £397,500

Alves, T. (PI) ERASMUS+ Sea4All project, in which education software is being developed to educate school children on how to tackle marine pollution, £43,680

Blenkinsop, T. G. Gold Prospectivity in Eastern Russia, Kupol and Dvoinoye Mines, Kinross, £10 000

Blenkinsop T.G. (PI) Structural Geology in Drill core, Newmont, £2452

Blenkinsop, T,.G. (PI) Mining Governance Project, World Bank, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Malawi

Blenkinsop, T.G. (PI) Formation of the world class copper deposit at Mount Isa, Australia MOUNT ISA MINES, NERC PhD CASE award, £71,878

Blenkinsop T. G. (PI) Mapping and prospectivity analysis of the Tommy Creek Block, Mount Isa, and short courses. MOUNT ISA MINES, £30659

Blenkinsop T. G. (PI) Prospectivity analysis of the Eastern Fold Belt, Mount Isa. NEWMONT ASIA PACIFIC, £11,000

Blenkinsop T. G. (PI) Prospectivity analysis of Geita gold mine tenements, Tanzania. ANGLOGOLD ASHANTI Ltd, £10585

Blenkinsop T. G. (PI) Structural Geology of Ngezi Platinum Mine. ZIMPLATS, £9,742.

Lambert-Smith J. S. (PI) Characterising the mineralization, alteration and temporal evolution of the auriferous Neoarchean Gokona deposit, Tanzania. SEG Student Research Grant Award, £3,965.

Lambert-Smith J. S. (PI) Petrographic study of the Dandoko Au Project, Mali, West Africa (consultancy), OKLO RESOURCES LTD., £8,252.

Lambert-Smith J. S. (PI) Petrographic study of the Diamba Sud Au project, Senegal. CHESSER RESOURCES, £4,999.

Maier W. D. (PI) Establishing the Battery Mineral Potential of Wales, KESS studentship of Welsh government, £80,000.

Maier W. D. (PI) Geochronology of Flatreef, NERC Isotope Geoscience Facility, £35,000.

Meet the team

No picture for Suame Ampana

Mr Suame Ampana

Research student

Picture of James Lambert-Smith

James Lambert-Smith

Lecturer in Exploration and Resource Geology

+44 29208 74323
Picture of Wolfgang Maier

Professor Wolfgang Maier

Professor in Earth Science

+44 29208 75382
No picture for Charles Routleff

Mr Charles Routleff

Research student

No picture for Levent Tosun

Mr Levent Tosun

Research student

No picture for Lilly Walker

Miss Lilly Walker

Research student




School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Committed to achieving the highest standards in research and education and to providing a rich and varied research-led environment where all staff and students can achieve their full potential to the benefit of society.


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Research that matters

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Postgraduate research

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Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.