Research interests

In a nutshell, I am a geologist and geochemist who is interested in how mountains form in the centre of tectonic plates, how fluids control the strength of rocks and trigger earthquakes, and how some of the hottest rocks in the world are distributed through southern Australia.

Find out more about my research on my Google Scholar citations profile. Discover some of my research topics in this video, this news release, and these media appearances.

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My research focuses on these major themes:

  • Fluid–rock interaction in the deep crust/shear zones
  • Linking geochemical and microstructural records of fluid flow to large scale geodynamics
  • Intraplate mountain building (orogenesis)
  • Heat flow and crustal heat production (geothermal energy)

I am particularly interested in the role that fluids play in modulating the strength of the continental crust, and thus how tectonic plates dynamically respond to forces and stress. This contributes to a better understanding of the complex migration patterns of deep crustal fluids, with applications as diverse as geothermal energy, carbon sequestration, nuclear waste storage and the formation of ore deposits. I am also keen on developing new models for the heat flow field of southern Australia, which contains broad but poorly-defined regions with values well in excess of the global continental average. Better constrained heat flow maps are critical datasets that drive exploration targeting for the geothermal and minerals industries, and provide more robust inputs for the ongoing challenge of accurately projecting long-term climate and ecosystem changes.

Current research highlight: LA-ICP-MS trace element mapping

Laser map examples.jpg

2D LA-ICP-MS trace element maps of garnet from the Peaked Hill shear zone, Reynolds Range, central Australia – a significant improvement over conventional 1D line profiles for constraining cryptic or irregular zoning patterns and their relationship to mineral growth (including accessory minerals) and/or subsequent diffusional modification.

Together with Pierre Lanari (University of Bern), I developed an extension of the MATLAB-based GUI XMapTools for rapid processing of LA-ICP-MS trace element maps in order to visualise and interpret compositional zoning patterns. Our CTMP paper on this technique is available for free here, recognised as one of the most influential articles in this journal for 2017. Download the free software at

PH4_garnet mosaic_low.jpg

Rock block scan showing a mosaic of fractured garnet fragments from the Peaked Hill shear zone, Reynolds Range, central Australia – a record of deep crustal seismicity and its links to fluid-rock interaction? See Raimondo et al. (2017) for details.