I’m an Irish geologist conducting a NERC-Panorama funded PhD in orogenic deposits here at the University of Leeds. I have a particular enthusiasm for mineral resources, both metallic and industrial. At Leeds, I am part of the Ores and Mineralisation Research Group (OMG). My interest in economic geology was first cultivated at the University of Birmingham, where I did my undergraduate mapping project in conjunction with Tarmac at the Dolyhir and Strinds quarries.
Whilst at St Andrews, I elected to study some unusually large alluvial gold grains that were panned from Berwickshire for my dissertation. Over the 2019-2020 academic year, I utilised 3D Geological Modelling, ArcGIS, Lithogeochemistry, Binocular Microscopy, EMP analyses and simulative geochemical modelling to constrain the source of the alluvial gold and the processes involved in local gold mineralisation. My own interest in geology has always stemmed from the interpretative power offerred by the discipline; I'm fascinated by the use of simple, methodical observations to interpret extremely complex processes that operated over incomprehensible amounts of geological time. Studying the microchemical characteristics of alluvial gold epitomises this interpretative power, hence I jumped at the chance to do a PhD in this field.
Aside from academia, I spent 3 months working in Environmental Consultancy with Atkins.
My research seeks to shed light on a longstanding issue pertaining to orogenic gold deposits. Many examples of orogenic mineralisation display a magmatic signature. However, the temporal nature of the magmatic activity is often unknown; perhaps the earlier vein generations are derived from magmatic sources before evolving into fluids that are more typical of orogenic systems (i.e. fluids associated with metamorphic devolatisation reactions), or alternatively, the fluids may evolve from orogenic to magmatic over time. The ultimate aim of my project is to shed light on the processes that form orogenic gold deposits, as this may translate into more effective commercial exploration strategies. This aspect is particularly important in light of the energy transition, which is fuelling the demand for gold and other metals in the manufacturing of many renewable technologies, from photo-voltaic cells to fuel cell catalysts. Alternatively, understanding the nature of fluid evolution in orogenic systems will lead to a greater understanding of how magmatic-hydrothermal systems develop over time, which may help to answer questions regarding the differential metal endowment across the Earth’s crust.
My project focuses on the gold-bearing veins that are hosted within the Loch Tay region of Scotland, which is relatively close to known occurrences of orogenic mineralisation that display magmatic signatures (e.g. the Cononish mine). This provides an opportunity to scrutinise the evolution of magmatic-hydrothermal systems associated with orogenic gold deposits. I will conduct field campaigns in the Grampians every Summer throughout the course of my project, with an aim to:
- Collect rock samples for radiometric dating in order to understand the temporal nature of the magmatism.
- Map out any auriferous veins and intrusions for the purpose of constraining spatial associations.
- Pan for alluvial samples to study via EMP and LA-ICP-MS methods (microchemical techniques.
I will also analyse geochemical and geophysical data provided by the industry partner.
Aside from my PhD project, I have wider research interests across economic geology, including:
- The Mineral Systems Approach.
- Structural Geology.
- Quarrying/aggregate extraction.
- BSc Geology, University of Birmingham
- MSc Mineral Resources, University of St Andrews
Research groups and institutes
- Ores and Mineralization