Professor Sandra Piazolo

Professor Sandra Piazolo


Current projects include

  • Sustainable Geoenergy Solutions: Interdisciplinary projects – Geoscience, Social Science and Engineering
  • Geothermal energy in Carbonates: Porosity and fluid flow evolution – nature, experiments and numerical modelling
  • Radioactive waste disposal: The role of fluid-rock interaction in risk assessment practices
  • Fracturing and Porosity Channeling in Fluid Overpressure Zones in the Shallow Earth’s Crust. 
  • Melt pathways in the crust and mantle
  • Fundamentals of ice flow
  • When did Plate Tectonics start: A reappaisal of the oldest ‘subduction zone” reported – the Isua Supracrustal belt, West Greenland
  • The Alpine Fault of NZ: Linking geophysics and field observations
  • The shocking truth of pseudotachylites: Pseudotachylites under scrutiny
  • Reaction fronts: Nature, experiments and numerical modelling
  • Numerical modelling of strain localization and delocalization
  • Prediction of geophysical characteristics from microstructural analysis
  • Fault microstructures: What do they tell us?
  • Reading meteorites to the fullest? Using microstructures to understand planetary evolution

Past projects include

  • Australian Research Council, Future Fellowship (Advanced), Flow characteristics of lower crustal rocks: Developing a toolbox to improve geodynamic models, (2012-2014)
  • Australian Research Council, Individual grant, Investigating the fundamental link between deformation, fluids and the rates of reactions in minerals, (2011-2016)
  • EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network, Delta-Min: Solvent mediated phase transformation (2008-2012)
  • European Collaboration Network (EUROCORES) EuroMinScI “Substructure Dynamics” (2006-2009)

Previous positions

  • 06.2016 – 01.2017 Assoc. Prof., Dept. Earth & Planetary Sciences, Macquarie University (MQ), Australia
  • 01.2012 – 05.2016 ARC Future Fellow Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, MQ, Australia
  • 08.2010 - 12.2011 Lecturer, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, MQ, Australia
  • 03.2010 - 08.2010 Professor of Structural Geology and Tectonics, SU, Sweden
  • 12.2005 - 03.2010 Associate Professor of Structural Geology and Tectonics, SU, Sweden
  • 11.2004 - 11.2005 Senior Lecturer of Structural Geology and Tectonics, SU, Sweden

Teaching experience

  • Course Leader in 14 full time courses (undergraduate to PhD Level)
  • Teacher in additional 5 full time courses (undergraduate to PhD Level)
  • Course Leader in 3 university short courses (postgraduate level)
  • Teacher in 7 summer schools / workshops


  • Laboratory Manager of Experimental Petrology Laboratory
  • Co-laboratory manager of SEE microscopy unit
  • Academic Lead - Geoscience in the Energy Transition

Research interests

My main scientific interest is the understanding of micro- and mesoscale processes and their link to macro-scale phenomena. To achieve this, it is essential to quantify microstructures and thus micro-structural processes active during a variety of P-T-fluid conditions. In addition, the development of new techniques to observe, interpret and evaluate processes in the Earth and under planets is part of my research.

Fields of research interest include: (i) structural geology and large scale tectonics, (ii) microstructural and-chemical analysis of planetary and extraterrestrial materials, (iii) microdynamic modelling (mainly using the microdynamic modelling platform Elle (, (iv) fluid flow through the crust – melts, water-rich fluids, (v) experimental deformation and heating of rocks and analogue materials i.e. metals, ice, (vi) field mapping, (vii) rheology and deformation mechamisms in rocks and ice.

In recent years, I added applying my knowledge to socially relevant research into my “research mix” – projects in this realm include: the use of the subsurface for NetZero solutions, the durability of radioactive waste – experiments and prediction, reactivity of fluids in crystalline rock – developing realistic flow and radioactive nuclei retention models for radioactive waste repository modelling, 


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Oct. 2017 Professor (Chair) in Structural Geology and Tectonics, University of Leeds
  • March. 2010 Professor (Chair) in Structural Geology and Tectonics, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • Dec. 2005 “Docent” in Geology, SU, Sweden (Equivalent to promotion to Associate Professor)
  • Jan. 2001 PhD in geology at the University of Mainz, Germany.
  • Oct. 1997 “Diplom” (MSc) in Geology, University of Freiburg, Germany

Professional memberships

  • Geological Society of London

Student education

Past courses

Introductory Course to Geology, Field Mapping (all levels), Field techniques, Optical Microscopy, Structural Geology and Tectonics, Atoms to Mountain Belts, Rheology of the Earth, Marine Environments, Advanced quantitative tools in electron microscopy

Current courses at University of Leeds

  • SOEE 2096 Advanced Fieldwork, Mapwork and Study Skills
  • SOEE 2095 Research and Career Skills
  • SOEE3490 Mountain Belt Processes
  • SOEE3450 Structural Geology
  • SOEE3073 Independent Mapping Projects
  • SOEE5309M MGeol Research Project

Research groups and institutes

  • Geodynamics and Tectonics
  • Ores and Mineralization
  • Rocks, Melts and Fluids
  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics
  • Planetary Exploration

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>