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 focuses on mineralised veins that are hosted within an approximately 100km² area encompassing Loch Tay, which is approximately 40km East from the active Cononish gold mine. The Study Area is mineralogically diverse – gold and base metals were extracted through artisanal methods for centuries, and barytes deposits have been mined commercially by multiple companies since the 1980s. In recent years, Erris Resources have conducted exploration at the Lead Trial target (https://www.errisgoldresources.com/loch-tay-project/project-three-5m938), which shows epithermal mineralisation textures. However, signs of porphyry, skarn and orogenic gold mineralisation have been reported at other localities throughout the Study Area. My PhD seeks to develop an overarching metallogenic model that can explain the evolution of ore-forming processes, which has largely been elusive. The relevance of this research is evident when considered within the context of the growing demand for critical metals – these are necessary for manufacturing many renewable energy technologies, from photovoltaic cells to fuel cell catalysts.
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