Geoscience Staff

Across our research and teaching, we have a wide range of expertise. Our researchers, your lecturers, are listed here with various networking and contact options available.

A/Prof Eric Roberts

Head, Geoscience

Eric Roberts is a clastic sedimentologist with research expertise in facies mapping and identification, sedimentary provenance, core logging, stratigraphy, U-Pb zircon geochronology, petroleum geology palaeontology and regional correlation.

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Academic Staff

Professor Michael Bird

Isotope Geochemist

I am an isotope geochemist and Quaternary scientist who worked in Canada, Singapore and Scotland prior to joining JCU in 2009 as an ARC Federation Fellow. My research interests include the terrestrial carbon cycle, biochar, geoarchaeology and understanding the trajectory and drivers  of past and future environmental change in the tropics.

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Associate Professor Zhaoshan Chang

Economic Geologist

Zhaoshan Chang is an economic geologist with expertise on skarns, epithermal, porphyry and sediment-hosted Au deposits. He is EGRU Director and works closely with the minerals industry on exploration-orientated research projects.

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Dr James Daniell

Marine Geologist

My expertise includes oceanography, geomorphology, sedimentology, geophysics, remote sensing and GIS. However, my research is more specifically focused on mapping the seabed using sonar to understand geological processes, oceanography, and the distribution of benthic habitats in both deep and shallow water environments.

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Professor Paul Dirks

Paul Dirks is a structural geologist with an interest in geodynamics and the tectonic history of cratonic terrains and adjacent mobile belts, investigating their tectonic evolution and associated mineralization patterns. His research is strongly field-based with a focus on detailed geological mapping.

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Dr Rob Holm

Lecturer in Petrology and Mineralogy

Rob Holm employs multi-disciplinary methods comprising elements of structural geology, igneous petrology, geochronology, geophysics and sedimentology to unravel complex tectonic terranes. Through the generation of tectonic reconstruction models, he investigates the links between tectonics and mineral deposit formation.

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Dr Jan Marten Huizenga

I am interested in fluid-rock interaction processes in the lower crust and in hydrothermal (mineralised) systems, and in thermodynamic modelling of carbon-oxygen-hydrogen systems. In addition, I am also interested in developing new teaching techniques for improving student learning in introductory geology classes

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Dr Karen Joyce

Remote Sensing Scientist

Karen Joyce's primary area of interest is in creating, applying and automating remote sensing tools for environmental monitoring and management problems. While the environmental target may vary from marine and coastal through to savanna ecosystems, my common approach is to optimise models for rapid quantitative information extraction and communication purposes.

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Dr Christa Placzek


My research focuses on the interaction between climate, hydrology, and Earth surface geochemistry.  I utilize a breadth of isotopic techniques, fieldwork, and both numerical and climate models to understand interactions between global climate and to quantify the rates and processes of rock weathering and erosion.

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A/Prof Eric Roberts

Head, Geoscience

Eric Roberts is a clastic sedimentologist with research expertise in facies mapping and identification, sedimentary provenance, core logging, stratigraphy, U-Pb zircon geochronology, petroleum geology palaeontology and regional correlation.

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Dr Ioan Sanislav

My research interest is in structural geology and tectonics with a focus on field geology, structural controls on mineralized systems and the tectonic evolution of Proterozoic and Archean terranes. Current areas of interest are: the Archean Tanzania Craton, the Proterozoic Mt Isa region, and the Palaeozoic metamorphics of northern Queensland.

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A/Prof Carl Spandler

Associate Professor

Carl Spandler uses petrology and geochemistry to research aspects of the evolution of the Earth’s crust and mantle, and the formation of metalliferous ore deposits. His areas of expertise include microanalysis of minerals for trace elements and isotopes, hydrothermal fluid geochemistry and magmatic ore deposits.

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Peter Whitehead

Peter Whitehead studies Cenozoic volcanology of Eastern Australia, in particular in relation to volcanic landforms and landscape evolution.

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Research Staff

Dr Joao Babo

Joao Babo completed his PhD on on the Merlin high grade Mo-Re deposits in the Cloncurry region of North Queensland, Australia. He is currently researching the hominid Sediba fossils of South Africa with particular emphasis on the sediment and bone fragment geochemistry.

Dr Robin Beaman

Rob Beaman is a Marine Geologist who uses ocean mapping science required to unlock the secrets of Australia's underwater landscape. Ocean mapping science can help reveal the geological origin of the seafloor and explain the distribution of important seabed habitats and marine life.

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Dr Isaac Corral Calleja

Isaac Corral Calleja studies porphyry-and epithermal Au-Cu mineralization in convergent margin settings. He has worked  extensively in SW Panama and is currently researching the geology and metallogeny of the Northern Bowen Basin.

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Dr Yanbo Cheng

Yanbo Cheng is an economic Geologist with expertise in tin and tungsten mineralisation, petrogenesis of granitic rocks, fertility of ore-related igneous rocks and genesis of the “Critical Metal” ores.

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Dr Arianne Ford

Arianne Ford focuses on the application of spatial statistics and computational techniques to mineral exploration targeting and resource classification.

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Adjunct Emeritus Professor Bob Henderson

Bob Henderson has over 40 years of experience working on Australian geology, with a particular focus on the regional geology of Queensland. His research interests span from tectonics, sedimentology and basin studies to invertebrate palaeontology.

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Dr Hannah Hilbert-Wolf

Hannah Hilbert-Wolf is a sedimentary geologist whose research focuses on reconstructing the tectonic and sedimentary history of the Rukwa Rift Basin, of the East African Rift System in Tanzania. She is currently working on the geological context of important new hominid finds in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.

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Dr Susannah Leahy

Susannah Leahy is a postdoctoral research fellow currently working to increase our understanding of a range of coral reef biophysical parameters via remote sensing, in particular using drone-mounted sensors. She is most interested in finding ways to use remote sensing approaches to enrich ecological research questions, and to increase the efficiency of environmental data collection.

Dr Niels Munksgaard

Niels develops and applies new portable instruments for field-based analysis of stable isotopes (H, C, O) in water, soil and other environmental samples. This work includes building some world-first gadgets that help provide new insights into weighty questions about global water and carbon cycling.

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Dr Cassandra Rowe

Cassandra is a palaeoecologist and palynologist whose research focusses on long-term environmental dynamics and human-environmental relationships within monsoonal regions, understanding vegetation composition, distribution and change with emphasis on tropical-savanna landscapes, dry-rainforest associations and island flora

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Dr Mike Rubenach (Adjunct)

Mike is an igneous and metamorphic petrologist with expertise in field mapping, petrography, metamorphism of the Mount Isa Inlier, and the petrology of skarns.

Dr Chris Wurster

Chris Wurster is an environmental geochemist who specialises in stable isotope geochemistry of a wide array of materials including water, carbonate, phosphate, and organic matter, from both terrestrial (from the humid tropics to drylands) and aquatic (both freshwater and oceanic) systems.

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Research Students

Prince Owusu Agyemang

Prince is using U–Pb detrital zircon geochronology/geochemistry as the principal investigative tool to track sediment pathways into continental sedimentary basins and to also help understand Mesozoic tectonics and its effect on landscape evolution in Central Africa. This approach can improve age resolution, particularly in continental sedimentary successions for which biostratigraphy is often imprecise or inconclusive.

Helge Behnsen

Helge’s PhD project will test established magma fertility concepts to evaluate the potential for subsurface porphyry Cu-Au(-Mo) deposit(s) linked to the Mount Carlton high-sulfidation epithermal Au-Ag-Cu deposit and proximal prospects hosted by the early Permian Lizzie Creek Volcanics group. Using whole-rock major and trace element geochemistry and isotope geochemistry, he will gain new implications on magma fertility and genesis of this volcanic suite and the geological history of north east Queensland.

Saroj Bhattarai

Saroj is studying Northern Australian sinkhole lake sediments to reconstruct the climatic and vegetation history using established and newly developed techniques. Cores (10-20 m long) covering the last 100,000 years have been extracted from sinkholes lakes near Katherine, Northern Territory. The sediment cores will be analyzed for different proxies (grain size, magnetic susceptibility, charcoal, stable isotopes) to reveal the environmental history of Australia.

Michael Calder

Michael’s PhD project focuses on the zonation, paragenesis and fluid evolution from the root to top of the Far Southeast-Lepanto porphyry-epithermal system, Mankayan district, Philippines. This system is particularly important for its applicability in addressing key aspects of the genesis of magmatic–hydrothermal deposits. Michael hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the processes involved in porphyry ore formation, which will help improve efficiency in exploration.

Nicolas Younes Cardenas

Nicolás is a PhD student at JCU Cairns; at the moment he's looking at how a water background alters the spectral signatures of mangroves in satellite images, but he's also interested in ecological economics as well as the use of remote sensing for modelling and assessing natural hazards and landscape connectivity.

George Case

George is studying the genesis of the E1 Group of iron-oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) deposits near Cloncurry, Queensland.  His research aims to understand the origins of the E1 Group by studying its structural and host rock controls with 3-D modeling, as well as the evolution of the mineralising fluid(s) by analyzing whole-rock and mineral chemistry, sulfur and oxygen stable isotopes, and fluid inclusions. The results will be used to improve IOCG genetic and exploration models in the Mount Isa Inlier

Robert Coleman

Robbie is researching the evolution of the Tommy Creek Block (Mount Isa Inlier) and associated rare earth element (REE) mineralisation. This project will aim to improve the understanding of the Tommy Creek Block’s Precambrian evolution through geophysical interpretation, field work, and geochronology. Multiple REE mineral occurrences in the block will also be investigated in order to better understand timing of mineralisation and any correlations with the local geologic evolution.

Vicki Darlington

Vicki's PhD project is on the Lawn Hill impact structure, located  250 km N of Mt Isa. The southeastern edge of the structure overlies one of the largest Zn-Pb-Ag mineral deposits in the world, the Century zinc deposit. This impact structure is exposed and is marked by a highly deformed and brecciated dolomite annulus with an outer diameter ~ 18 km. The focus of Vicki's research to date has been to undertake detailed structural analyses to clarify the origin of the deformation patterns within the dolomite.

Teimoor Nazari Dehkordi

Teimoor is a PhD student with particular interest in geochemistry of the rare earth elements (REE). He is currently studying the dysprosium-rich REE Wolverine deposit, Western Australia. The main focus of his project is to determine the source/s of and the mechanisms involved in the mineralisation.

Kelly Heilbronn

Kelly is investigating sedimentary and volcanic rocks from IODP core from the Queensland Plateau and Lord Howe Rise. Outcomes from the analysis of the IODP samples will assist in modelling the lithosphere dynamics offshore of eastern Australia. This research will contribute towards closing the gap in the understanding the evolution of the eastern Australian continent during the Jurassic and Cretaceous.

Peter Illig

Peter is working on 4 skarn deposits in the Chillagoe mining district focusing on structure, skarn zonation, timing and magmatic controls on Au-Cu and Zn mineralization. This project is helping industry (Auctus Resources) better constrain future drill targeting and assisting GSQ understand magmatic conditions (e.g. fO2) which produced Au-Cu and Zn which contrasts to much of the Herberton district metallogeny (Sn, W).

Quaid Khan Jadoon

I did my PhD  in Shale gas under the supervision of A/Professor. Eric Roberts, Prof. Paul Dirk,Prof. Tom Blenkinsop and Dr, Raphael Wust . My PhD project was entitled: Unconventional shale gas Reservoir characterization and modelling in the Cooper Basin  Queensland and South Australia

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Getachew Agegnehu Jenberu

Soil fertility depletion, declining agricultural productivity because of reduction of soil organic matter (SOM), nutrient imbalance and climate change due to increased greenhouse gas emissions are major issues for the fertility most tropical agricultural soils. Getachew's research comprises three components which were conducted under two agro-ecosystems and soil types in Australia using maize and peanut and in Ethiopia using barley as test crops.

Kairan Liu

Kairan is studying the magma degassing processes and mineralization of the Wolfram Camp Mine by examining the time sequence of various geological units, and by documenting  the formation conditions and the nature of fluid in the research area. The study will contribute to the understanding of mineralisation in the Herberton - WCM - Watershed W-Sn region as well as magma-related hydrothermal processes in general.

Ashish Kumar Mishra

I am working on soil erosion, cosmogenic nuclides, and isotope geochemistry. My study area is located in north Queensland, Australia. I am also an engineer and have also achieved a masters degree in environment related science.

Cassy Mtelela

Cassy is working on the sedimentology and stratigraphy of the late Cenozoic Lake Beds succession, Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania. His project applies a variety of approaches including detailed outcrop-based geologic and facies mapping, sandstone petrography and dating, to document sedimentology of this fossiliferous mega-sequence in the Rukwa Rift Basin. The goal of this research is to establish a formal stratigraphy for the Lake Beds Group and evaluate their potential for generation and accumulation of hydrocarbon.

Stephanie Mrozek

Stephanie's PhD research is on the world-class Antamina deposit in Peru, where she is investigating the relationship between porphyry intrusions, tectonic uplift, and skarn formation. Previously, Stephanie’s research focused on characterizing Au-Cu skarns and porphyry-style deposits in Alaska (USA) and the Yukon Territory (Canada).

Alexander Parker

Alex's research focuses on establishing the role and significance of water-absent fluids in the Earth’s lower crust by means of studying fluid inclusions from 4 classic granulite-facies terranes, and using thermodynamic modelling. The aim of this project is: (1) to establish to spatial distribution of CO2 and brines in the lower crust, and (2) the effect of fluids on mass transfer in the lower crust.

Jaime Poblete

Jaime’s PhD project seeks the understanding of the ore forming conditions of the Watershed tungsten deposit, of Northern Queensland, Australia. Examination of spatial zoning patterns, paragenesis events, hydrothermal fluid evolution and structural control of this system, will be used elucidate the source, mobilisation methods and deposition conditions of tungsten at Watershed and therefore also contribute to the knowledge of similar deposits around the world.

Emma Rehn

Emma’s research is focused on reconstructing a fire history for northern Australia during the late Holocene from sedimentary charcoal records. This research is part of a greater project exploring human-environment interactions in the region.

Jessie Robbins

Jess is working on the speleothems within the Rising Star cave system and conducting both paleomagnetic and stable isotope analyses. A primary objective is to obtain a record of paleoclimate and vegetation that potentially spans the period of time represented by the hominin fossils.

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Behnam Sadeghi

Behnam’s PhD research involves quantification and modelling of error propagation and uncertainty in univariate geochemical anomalies mapped from interpolated geochemical data. To do so, some methods like fractal modelling will be applied to the outputs of geostatistical simulation methods (e.g., SGS, TBS and MIM) for the first time, to determine whether the geochemical anomalies are statistically significant or not, and to enhance subtle geochemical anomalies associated with concealed mineralisation.

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Fredrik Sahlstrom

Fredrik is investigating the geological characteristics and ore forming processes at Mount Carlton, Queensland, using a combination of field and laboratory techniques. His PhD project aims to improve the understanding of epithermal deposits in a regional context, and also to generate exploration tools for the project’s industry partners who are actively exploring for further mineralisation in the area.

Paul Slezak

Paul is studying the Yangibana rare earth element (REE) mineralization, hosted in Proterozoic Gifford Creek Carbonatite Complex (GCCC) of the Gascoyne Province, Western Australia. The current focus of his research is on the age, composition, and geochemistry of the carbonatite intrusions related to the “ironstone” mineral prospects within the GCCC. Ultimately, the aim is to determine the mechanisms and processes that produced the REE-mineralizing fluid and to estimate the potential for further mineral deposits in the region.

Mark Stokes

Mark is researching the structural architecture and displacement history of the Mt. Carlton Au-Ag-(Cu) high-sulphidation epithermal deposit (Northern Bowen Basin, Queensland). Mark’s past research has been focused in Proterozoic and Archean terranes of Western Australia, specifically: detailed structural mapping of the Pleiades Lakes region (NE Albany-Fraser Orogen), and spectroscopic characterisation of calc-silicates minerals from low-grade regional metabasites (Fortescue Group, Hamersley Basin).

Christopher Todd

My research involves reconstructing the Late Mesozoic landscape of NE Australia. Particularly, I aim to determine the sources of volcanogenic sediment in the Great Artesian Basin to better understand the processes that led to their deposition. I also aim to better constrain Australian Jurassic dinosaur fauna in the sedimentary rock record.

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Jelle Wiersma

Jelle is investigating the sedimentological history of the Rising Star Cave system in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. his work will integrate lithological characteristics and facies associations of specific chambers in the cave system, with detrital zircon-based provenance studies, geochronologic and geochemical analyses. This extraordinary cave system has recently seen a lot of scientific and media attention due to the 2013 discovery of the largest concentration of hominid fossils ever recorded in a single location in Africa, belonging to the new species Homo naledi.

Costijn Zwart

Costijn is working on the isotopic signature of tropical rainfall in north Australia, and relating this chemical signal to monsoon activity and extreme events such as tropical cyclones. This project is part of a worldwide attempt by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to constrain regional hydrological and climate models and improve the interpretation of paleo climate proxies. The second part of his thesis will be to investigate the isotopic signature of rainfall preserved in leaf waxes found in 100,000 year old sediment cores to reconstruct the past climate of north Australia.

Matthew van Ryt

The aim of Matthew’s research is to characterise the gold endowment at the Geite Hill Gold deposit (Tanzania) in terms of alteration assemblages and fluids. Matthew wants to find out what kind of alteration event is linked to gold enrichment in the area, and having found that, under what pressure and temperature conditions the event occurred.

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