Kristoffer Szilas

Kristoffer Szilas

Associate Professor - Promotion Programme

2023 → Present: Associate Professor on the promotion programme, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

2021 → 2023: Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

2018 → 2021: Tenure-track Assistant Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

2017: Postdoc, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Denmark  

2014 → 2016: Postdoc, Stanford University, California, USA        

2012 → 2014: Postdoc, Columbia University, New York, USA

2003 → 2012: PhD, MSc, BSc, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

See full CV here

 

My research focuses on the petrology and geochemistry of Archaean (older than 2500 million years old) rocks from Greenland, where I have conducted fieldwork every summer for the past fourteen years. The research aims at modelling the relations between ultramafic and mafic-andesitic rock associations in order to better constrain the evolution of the North Atlantic Craton. You can find more information on my website: www.KristofferSzilas.com 
 
I spend every summer doing fieldwork in Greenland. You can see some photos from the field here: www.instagram.com/kristoffer.szilas

I have written (in Danish) about the subject of my research in layman's terms here: Mysteriet om Jordens kontinenter og pladetektonik
 

Current research

I'm currently working on determining the petrogenesis of Archaean anorthosite complexes. The current model for such rocks implies the operation of subduction zones 3 billion years ago, but I will test an alternative hypothesis in which such rocks formed by decompression of dry magmas. This project is supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark through a "Sapere Aude Grant" that runs from 2021 to 2025, and is mentioned HERE.

A new research project that I have started in 2023 investigates the ca. 1.8-billion-year-old Nagssugtoqidian mountain chain of West Greenland. The area hosts unique rock units that record the most fundamental shift in the tectonic mode of Earth. By combining state-of-the-art thermodynamic modelling with detailed mineralogy, my team will shed new light on this pivotal time in Earth’s development, which had significant implications for the evolution of life. This project is supported by the Villum Foundation through a "Young Investigator Plus Grant" that runs from 2023 to 2026, and is mentioned HERE.

A spin-off of my fundamental research on the early Earth and peridotites in particular has led to a project here we will investigate the reactions between CO2 and the mineral olivine. Specifically, we will test the potential for mineral carbonation using olivine deposits in Greenland as the raw material in the industry in Denmark. This is a study that is supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark as part of their Green Transition Theme, and is mentioned HERE.

 

Past research

A research project that I recently finished investigated enigmatic peridotite enclaves, which are found within TTG-suite orthogneiss in the Fiskefjord region. These refractory peridotite cumulates were likely co-magmatic with the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). This research project was supported by the Villum Foundation through a "Young Investigator Grant" that ran from 2018 to 2023, and is mentioned HERE.

I have also studied some of the oldest rocks on Earth, which are located in SW Greenland. The aim was to contribute with new insights into Earth's earliest crustal evolution. By applying a palette of isotope systems (including various non-traditional) on these ancient rocks, we tried to pin-point the specific class of meteorites that represents the building blocks of Earth. This project was supported by the Carlsberg Foundation through a "Distinguished Fellowship" that ran from 2019 to 2022, and is mentioned HERE.

You can find various videos of me explaining my research here:

Origin of Earth's oceans

The Oldest rocks on Earth

Formation of the continents

Using olivine for CCS

 

Here are some longer podcast interviews in Danish:

24 Spørgsmål til Professoren (about Earth's evolution)

Hjernekassen (mining and the green transition)

Geoland (carbon capture and storage using olivine)

Vildt Naturligt (early Earth geology)

Hjernekassen  (about diamonds)

Science Stories (origin of water on Earth)

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MSc and BSc projects that I can offer students:
 
Title: Are there no komatiites in Greenland?
In this project a petrographic and thermodynamic investigation will be made of spinifex-textured Archaean ultramafic rocks from Greenland. The main aim of this project is to characterize and model the metamorphic evolution and magmatic formation conditions of komatiite-like rocks from Greenland. So far, no komatiites sensu stricto have been identified in Greenland, making it the only Archean craton on Earth without such lavas represented. Either way, this have profound implications for understanding the geodynamic setting that are recorded in Greenland from the Archaean Eon.

Title: Petrology of gabbroic intrusions in East Greenland.
This project investigates layered intrusions from the Skærgaard region of East Greenland. The main rock type of this project is gabbro, but related cumulate rocks are also of interest. The emphasis is on the identification of minerals and mapping of their textural relations using the micro-XRF. The aims of this study are to: (1) document the range of minerals and in what proportions they occur, (2) measure the chemical variation of these minerals, and (3) determine their textural relationships to see if they are primary, or may have experienced remobilization during late stage magma chamber processes. A final aspect of this project is to assess the ore potential of these intrusions with an emphasis on platinum-group elements and Ti-V-oxides.
 
Title: Investigation of ore deposits in Greenland.
This project will study one or several ore deposits from Greenland with an emphasis on the identification of minerals and mapping of their textural relations. The aims of this thesis are to: (1) document the range of ore minerals that occur in some of the most important mineral deposits in Greenland, (2) measure the chemical variation of these minerals, and (3) determine their textural relationships to see if they are primary, or may have experienced subsequent remobilization or hydrothermal alteration. Metal precipitation mechanisms will be modelled using either magmatic (MELTS/MCS) or hydrothermal conditions (GEM).
 

The above projects typically involves data collection using some of the below instruments:

1. Bruker Tornado M4 micro-XRF scanner to produce element maps that can in turn be converted to mineral maps using the AMICS software.
2. Bruker Advance D8 powder-XRD for mineral identification of unusual or fine-grained minerals.
3. JEOL JXA 8200 electron microprobe analyser (EMPA) for precise mineral composition analysis.


Feel free to contact me at krsz@ign.ku.dk if you have any questions.
  

Teaching

I have taught courses in Economic Geology, Structural Geology, Arctic Geoscience, Isotope Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Metamorphic Petrology.

ID: 40444392