Institute of Applied Geoscience (IAG)

Group member biographies

Dr Rob Chapman

Rob gained a BSc (1979) and an MSc (1981) in Minerals Engineering from the University of Birmingham. He worked as a metallurgist for JCI, South Africa in gold, uranium and PGE recovery processes between 1981 and 1985 before returning to the UK to undertake a PhD in hydrometallurgy at Leeds, completed in 1989. He joined the University of Leeds in 1990 and in 1992 began a collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS) investigating compositional variation of detrital gold grains. This work involved sample collection throughout the UK and Ireland and development of standard field and analytical protocols which have established the benchmarks in this field. In 2003 Rob began a further collaboration with UBC, Vancouver which involved close liaison with the Yukon Geological Survey (YGS) to investigate placer lode relationships in the Klondike, Yukon. This work expanded during the Mineral Deposits Research Unit (MDRU) - industry – NSERC funded ‘Yukon Gold Project’ (2009-2012) which linked gold grain composition to regional metallogeny in the Dawson Range Yukon. Similar focussed studies of orogenic, porphyry and epithermal mineralization in both the Yukon and British Columbia have generated internationally leading expertise, which continues to evolve through the ‘Yukon- Alaskan Metallogeny’ Project with both MDRU and the USGS. This work has underpinned invited contributions to two MDRU industry- facing workshops and a talk at Vancouver Exploration Roundup in 2016. Rob has published extensively on the results of his research.

Rob has worked as a consultant in Ireland for New Boliden (2008), Kenya for Akili Mineral Services (2013), and Namibia (one month p.a. 2011-2015) with the DeBeers Marine alternative minerals project. Rob also acts as an advisor for the NSERC- Agnico Eagle gold provenancing project at Laval University, Quebec. He served on the SEG student affairs committee 2014-16.

Rob’s teaching at Leeds has integrated these experiences into undergraduate modules focussing on ore deposits and exploration with a strong emphasis on employability. He is also very active in MSc/MGeol teaching and project supervision, and PhD supervision. He is co-leader of the Leeds Ores and Mineralization Group.

Dr Taija Torvela

Taija completed her MSc in Geology and Mineralogy (2000) and, after a period as an environmental consultant, her PhD in structural geology (2007) at Abo Akademi University, Finland. After her PhD, she worked part-time for Magnus Minerals applying geophysical techniques to ore exploration in central Finland before gaining a position at Posiva as a structural geologist, where her work involved characterization of the crystalline basement for disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Between 2009 and 2011 she was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Aberdeen, focussing on research projects on structural interpretation of seismic data from both extensional and compressional geological settings. In 2011 she was appointed lecturer in structural geology and 3D modelling at the University of Helsinki. There, she was a PI of a project investigating relationships between thrust structures and sulphide mineralizations in an inverted palaeobasin in central Finland (Kalliomaki et al, 2013).

Taija was appointed lecturer at the University of Leeds in the autumn of 2012. Her research efforts have since encompassed a wide range of projects utilizing her broad skills in field-based and applied structural geology, both in convergent (orogenic) and in basin (extensional) environments. She is the leader of the MSc Structural Geology with Geophysics, and specializes in teaching 3D structures and visualization techniques, restoration and section balancing, field and mapping techniques, and structural controls of ore mineralizations. She has supervised several MSc projects which involve interrogation of data sets from both industry and geological surveys from different parts of the world, seeking to establish structural controls on ore genesis at various scales. The projects use industry standard approaches such as Leapfrog 3D model building from drill core data, statistical analysis on GIS, 3D geological model construction using multiple geological cross sections, interpretation of seismic reflection data, and regional structural analysis and model building from gravity and magnetics data. The results of some of these projects have been presented at conferences, most recently the AMEBC Roundup in Vancouver in January 2018; and one publication arising from an MSc project has been submitted (Murray et al., African Journal of Geosciences). Taija also supervises several PhD students working on orogenic gold deposits in the British and Irish Caledonides and Newfoundland; these aim at investigating both the detailed and the broader regional context of gold mineralisation along this orogenic trend.

Taija is the co-leader of OMG.

Dr Thomas Mueller

Thomas obtained his diploma in 2003 from the University of Mainz, Germany. His diploma thesis focussed on a petrological and structural geology study of the Ubehebe Peak contact aureole, USA. During his diploma he spent 4 weeks of mapping the aureole which is located in the heart of the Death Valley National Park. He continued his research on the aureole during his PhD thesis at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and gained his degree in 2007. His PhD thesis was entitled “Nucleation and growth of minerals in contact aureoles” and awarded as the best PhD thesis of the academic year. He then continued and developed his experimental skills during three post-doctoral fellowships at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA), the Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany), and the New York Centre for Astrobiology (USA). Subsequently, he further developed his research expertise on diffusion and kinetics of fluid-rock interactions as Assistant Professor for Petrology at the Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany) from 2010-2014. During this time, he refurbished the experimental petrology lab at Bochum. He finally joined the University of Leeds in November 2014 as Lecturer for metamorphic petrology and hydrothermal systems. He is responsible for the XRD laboratory and in the process of establishing an experimental petrology laboratory.

Thomas’ research focus on the kinetic control on the development of reaction fronts and fluid-rock interactions in low temperature settings such as enhanced geothermal systems and carbonate diagenesis. He is an expert in diffusion modelling to extract timescales of geological process and study the robustness and/or alteration of geochemical signatures. He uses a combination of experimental work, micro-analytics for spatially resolved element and isotope composition, phase equilibria, and kinetic modelling to quantitatively describe geologic processes involving transport with emphasis on fluid-rock interactions and mineral reaction kinetics.

Dr Sandra Piazolo

Sandra gained her BSc (1994) and an MSc (1997) in Geology and Mineralogy from the University of Freiburg, Germany. During her MSc she spent 4 months in Antarctica mapping Proterozoic basement. Her focus was on fluid rock interaction and its effect on elemental distribution in different minerals. She continued her education with a PhD at the University of Mainz, Germany, this time focussing on ductile deformation structures. She then moved to the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland mainly mapping in Greenland in areas of economic interest (e.g. Garder Province, S. Greenland, Gold mineralization, SW Greenland). Her academic career led Sandra to University of Liverpool, UK, to develop tools to quantitatively describe microstructures both physically and chemically, and to the University of Stockholm, Sweden (Lecturer to Professor position in Structural Geology and Tectonics). She then moved to Macquarie University, Australia, resulting in a focus in the link between microstructural development, tectonics and geochemical signatures working within the Centre of Excellence Core to Crust Fluids. This Centre is funded by the Australian Government with special focus on the utilization of high end techniques to increase the discovery of resources in Australia. Besides project involving the rheology of the lower crust, Sandra has had students investigating why some veins are gold bearing or not gold bearing in the Sunrise Dam deposit, Western Australia. Since 2017 Sandra joined the University of Leeds and the Ores and Mineralizations group at the School of Earth and Environment.

Sandra’s interests lie at the interface between geochemistry, metamorphic petrology and structural geology, with special interest in fluid-rock interactions. As such, much of the work that Sandra is doing is highly relevant to the ore/resource industry. Her expertise in characterizing mineral and rock structures from the nanoscale to the cm and km scale, with focus on the understanding the underlying processes that lead to specific rock formations, positions her ideally for future work highly relevant to the ore and minerals industry. Sandra is an expert in quantitative orientation and chemical analysis with a strong background in numerical modelling as well as experimental petrology.

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