Geochemical, Mineralogical and Petrological Earth Science

The group's research is focused on using the geochemistry, mineralogy and petrology of rocks to understand the origin and evolution of the Earth’s crust, mantle, atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere, how and why these reservoirs have changed, and which geological and tectonic processes have shaped our planet over geological time. In addition, the interface to material science is also of interest and a part of research is directed towards the mineral-related materials used in industry.

The research is heavily focused on geochemical and mineralogical analytical work, in laboratories based at IGN (Microprobe, XRD, TIMS, ICPMS) and also carried out in collaboration with laboratories and facilities hosted by external international partners. The group also contributes a broad range of petrological, mineralogical and geochemical courses in the Department, ranging from introductory level to advanced Master’s levels courses.

Geochemical, Mineralogical and Petrological Earth Science


Future student projects

Previous student projects

Ongoing reseach projects

  • Mushy mineralising systems (Skaergaard) –Sam Weatherly (GEUS) as PI (Geocenter Denmark)
  • The Evolution of Earth’s Deep Water Cycle: Developing a Method for Evaluating δD of the Ancient Mantle – Emily Pope (SNM) as PI (Geocenter Denmark)
  • How accurate is geochronology? A test case at Ilímaussaq, SW Greenland (Carlsberg)
  • The Rise of South Greenland; 4D-time-space Model With Implications for the tectonic development of SW Greenland and Orogenic Gold Mineralization. (Danish Research Council).
  • A partial cumulate origin of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (Villum Foundation)

One fundamental property of the continents is that they are attached to a thick keel of peridotite with a density that is lower than that of the ambient mantle. This buoyant, dry and rigid keel is the main reason for the long-term preservation of the continental crust. The aim with the present project is to investigate the origin of the subcontinental peridotite keel by testing a specific hypothesis for its formation, whereby parts of the upper peridotite keel represents olivine-rich cumulate rocks derived by fractional crystallisation processes. This idea is indeed consistent with preliminary data from Mesoarchean peridotites in the Fiskefjord region of SW Greenland. The interpretation of the origin of peridotite keel is hampered by the lack of appropriate study material with relict field relations, because the typical xenoliths found in kimberlites and alkaline dykes do not indicate their primary geological context and may even have been modified by their hosting carrier dykes. The Fiskefjord peridotites are truly exceptional in two aspects: (1) firstly they represent extensive rock outcrops on km-scale, rather than cm-scale as in the case of the xenoliths, and (2) they are associated with co-genetic lithological units (pyroxenites + norites), which provide a petrogenetic context. Field observations clearly demonstrate that these peridotites formed as cumulate rocks and are thus not mantle residues, as is currently the favoured model for the origin of the peridotite keel under the continents. However, both types of refractory peridotite would have behaved physically in an identical manner due to their overlapping densities and would have accumulated at the crust-mantle interface over time. The ultramafic complexes in the Fiskefjord region appear to be the first ever documented direct link between the subcontinental lithospheric keel and preserved igneous rocks. A detailed petrographic and geochemical investigation could provide important new constraints on their geodynamic environment, and hence the formation mechanism of Earth's first stable continents. This project is funded by Villum Fonden through a Young Investigator Grant to Assistant Professor Kristoffer Szilas.

  • Baseline Earth – a Marie Curie International Training Network Program: Brachiopods as sensitive tracers of global marine environment: Insights from alkaline, alkaline earthmetal, and metalloid trace element ratios and isotope systems
  • Use of redox-sensitive isotope tracers in marine and continental rock records to trace paleoenvironmental and climatic changes during the Late Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition (Independent Research Fund Denmark)

Completed research projects

  • Igneous processes during the transition from subduction to crustal break-up, New Zealand (Danish Research Council)
  • Development and application of chromium stable isotopes in carbonates to trace climatic fluctuations during major oxygenation periods in Earth´s history (Independent Research Fund Denmark)


Members of the research group

PhD students

Collaboration and Networks

  • GEUS
  • DTU
  • Kanazawa University
  • University of Alberta
  • Cologne University
  • University of Iceland
  • University of La Pampa, Argentina
  • Geomar, Kield, Germany
  • University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • CONICET-CENPAT, Argentina
  • Geomar, Kiel, Germany
  • University of Kiel, Germany
  • University of Münster, Germany
  • University of Uppsala, Sweden
  • Aarhus Universitet
  • Icelandic Institute of Natural History
  • University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Geological and Nuclear Sciences, New Zealand.
  • University of Perugia, Italy
  • University of Genova, Italy
  • University of Bari, Italy
  • Natural History Museum of Norway
  • National Research Council Canada
  • Haldor Topsøe A/S

Major field sites

  • South Greenland
  • Nuuk-Maniitsoq region, SW Greenland
  • Otavi Group, Namibia
  • Province of Misiones, Argentina
  • Province of Catamarca, Argentina
  • Province of Jujui, Argentina
  • Province of Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Province of Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil
  • Yangtse Platform, China
  • Bahamas, USA
  • Iceland: Katla volcano, Central Iceland, The West Fjords
  • Iceland: Holuhraun volcanic field
  • Iceland: Eldfell volcano, Heimaey Island
  • Argentina-Chile: Maipo volcano, Payenia in Mendoza
  • Chile: Southern Volcanic Zone of the Andes
  • Cape Verdes: Fogo, Santo Antão
  • Italy: Sabatini district, Roman Province around Lago di Bracciano.
  • Italy: Vulcano Island
  • Greece: Aegean arc volcanic islands: Milos, Santorini and Nisyros