Dr Taija Torvela

Dr Taija Torvela


I finished my PhD in 2007 at Abo Akademi University, Finland, on the 4D evolution of a crustal-scale shear zone in a Precambrian basement. After my PhD, I worked briefly for Magnus Minerals, conducting exploration in Central Finland, and then for Posiva as a structural geologist. Posiva is the organisation which is responsible for the final deposition of spent nuclear fuel in Finland into a crystalline basement repository. In 2009, I went to University of Aberdeen for a two-year post-doctoral fellowship. There, I was involved in the development of the Virtual Seismic Atlas, and research projects on structural interpretation of seismic data, mostly from the perspective of the behaviour of the crystalline basement in both extensional and compressional environments, but also worked on deep-water fold and thrust systems.

After Aberdeen, I was appointed lecturer in structural geology and 3D modelling at the University of Helsinki. In Helsinki, I continued with research projects related to deep orogenic processes, specifically synorogenic mid-crustal extension and orogenic collapse, and the usability of seismic reflection data in researching crustal structures. I also continued with ores-related research, investigating the structure and the evolution of a 1.9 Ga volcanosedimentary basin in southern Finland and the associated sulphide mineralizations.

I moved to Leeds in the autumn of 2012. Here, I will continue to pursue my research interests in basement processes and deformation, both in convergent (orogenic) and in basin (extensional) environments, using e.g. seismic reflection data, field mapping, 3D modelling tools, and microanalytics. I'm also very interested in how deformation processes at various scales affect ore mineralisations, and how we can utilise structural geology knowledge in minerals exploration: for example, I'm supervising two PhD projects looking at orogenic gold deposits in the Caledonides of the British Isles and in Newfoundland.

My current leadership roles include the co-leadership of the Ores and Mineralization Research Group at Leeds, and I am also the NERC DTP 'Earth Processes' theme leader of the School of Earth and Environment. Between 2014-2018 I was the programme leader of the MSc Structural Geology with Geophysics. I am a HEA Fellow (2015), a Chartered Geologist of the Geological Society of London (2017), and officer and website manager of IUGS TecTask.


  • Co-leader of Ores and Mineralization Research Group
  • NERC DTP 'Earth Processes' theme leader

Research interests

My specific research interests include:

  • Middle and lower crustal structures and processes during orogenesis, and especially behaviour and role of migmatites in accommodating large-scale strains
  • Fold and thrust belts/orogenic wedges
  • Relationships between geological structures and ore mineralisations, especially orogenic gold
  • Behaviour of middle and lower crust during lithospheric stretching/basin formation
  • Application of seismic data to the structural interpretation of the crystalline basement
  • Investigating possibilitied to enhance basement seismic reflection data by using seismic attributes, to detect sub-kilometre-scale structures
  • Integrating field work and geophysical interpretation
  • Interpretational uncertainty

My currently active research projects:

  • Structural and mechanical properties of and processes within the migmatitic orogenic middle crust (PhD project; Amicia Lee)
  • Structural controls of gold in 'old' vs. 'young' systems
  • Mineralized veins: how did they get there? A combined physiochemical approach to vein formation (PhD project; Georgian Manuc)
  • Structural controls of orogenic gold in Northern Ireland and wider implications orogenic gold mineralization models (PhD project; James Shaw)
  • Impact of faults on fluid flow in microbial and hydrothermal carbonates (PhD project; Dorothy Drayton)
  • Integration of hyperspectral and potential field data for hydrocarbon exploration in the Middle Benue Trough, Nigeria (PhD project; Ezekiel Yenne)
  • Structure of the Caledonian Thrust Front in Lapland (CaTFLap)
  • Syn-melt deformation of orogenic crust
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

My teaching interests include:

3D structures, field mapping, geodynamics of the lithosphere, geomechanics, applied structural geology, structural controls of ore mineralization (orogenic gold in particular), seismic interpretation (2D and 3D)

Research groups and institutes

  • Ores and Mineralization
  • Institute of Applied Geoscience
  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>