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 for Magnus Minerals, conducting volcanogenic massive sulphide ores exploration in Central Finland, and then for Posiva as a structural geologist at the Finnish nuclear waste depository site. 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 outreach project, 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 I also worked on fold-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 work, investigating the structure and the evolution of a 1.9 Ga volcanosedimentary basin and the associated sulphide mineralization in southern Finland.

I moved to Leeds in the autumn of 2012. Here, I will continue to pursue both my fundamental and applied research interests in basement processes, deformation, and ore geology. My main tools are field mapping, 3D modelling tools, and microanalytics (SEM techniques; EPMA) and I am regularly taking multi-disciplinary approaches incorporating e.g. geophysical and geochemical tools in my work. My major interest in applied sciences is how deformation processes at various scales affect ore mineralisation, and how we can utilise structural geology knowledge and 3D understanding in minerals exploration to help secure metal resources for energy transition. My particular interests in ore geology are in sedimentary basin-hosted mineralisation (cobalt, copper, zinc, lead), gold-silver systems (both orogenic and magmatic), and pegmatite ores. I am supervising three PhD projects looking at the metallogeny of the Caledonides of the British Isles and Newfoundland, and another PhD on cobalt mineralisation in Finnish Lapland.

I am actively engaging in various geo-community and public outreach and EDI projects, e.g. public interest talks and articles, leading or participating in the design of accessible and virtual field trips, and organising events and conferences for the geoscientific community. I regularly conduct consultancy work for industry on ores exploration and structural assessment of mineralisation.

My current leadership roles include the co-leadership of the Ores and Mineralisation Research Group at Leeds, Academic Integrity Lead for the School of Earth and Environment, and I am also the NERC DTP 'Earth Processes' theme leader of the School. 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 vice-chair and website manager of IUGS TecTask.


  • Co-leader of Ores and Mineralization Research Group
  • NERC DTP 'Earth Processes' theme leader
  • Academic Integrity Lead for School of Earth and Environment

Research interests

My specific research interests include:

  • Relationships between geological structures and ore mineralisation
  • Fold and thrust belts/orogenic wedges
  • Middle and lower crustal structures and processes during orogenesis, and especially behaviour and role of migmatites in accommodating large-scale strains
  • Behaviour of middle and lower crust during lithospheric stretching/basin formation
  • Application of seismic data to the structural interpretation of ore-bearing systems
  • Integrating field work and geophysical interpretation
  • Interpretational uncertainty

My current and recent research projects:

  • Making enviromental science equal, diverse and inclusve (NERC EDI enhancement grant; Co-I)
  • Cobalt-gold mineralisation at Rajapalot, Finland (PhD project; Lily Dickson; PI)
  • Metallogeny of the Loch Tay area, Scotland (PhD project; Shane Webb; PI)
  • Gold mineralisation in Newfoundland and Ireland (PhD project; Georgian Manuc; PI)
  • Structural controls of orogenic gold in Northern Ireland (PhD project; James Shaw; PI)
  • Basin structure and lead-zinc mineralisation of northern England and southern Scotland (PI)
  • Structure of the Caledonian Thrust Front in Lapland (CaTFLap) (PI)
  • Syn-melt deformation of orogenic crust (PI)

Supervised PhD students (finished)

  • Dr Ezekiel Yenne (2022)
  • Dr Amicia Lee (2019)
<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>

Professional memberships

  • The Geological Society
  • Society of Economic Geologists

Student education

My teaching interests include:

Structural geology, 3D geology (cross-section and structural contouring techniques) and 3D modelling (e.g. Leapfrog software), geological field techniques (including ores exploration techniques), ore geology, strike-slip fault systems, fold-thrust belts and orogenic wedges, fault growth models, basin evolution, geomechanics, seismic interpretation (2D and 3D)

Research groups and institutes

  • Ores and Mineralization
  • Institute of Applied Geoscience
  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics
  • Rocks, Melts and Fluids
  • Geodynamics 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>