A-Team Quarterly Update – First Quarter 2022

Another busy time for the research group. We have had a major publication on the fluid movement associated with alkaline igneous intrusions by Kris is now out in the top-rated journal “Geology” and a major publication from the HiTech AlkCarb consortium (Beard et al. 2022) about the genetic models of alkaline igneous systems is about to come into the public domain. Aayush and Tim have been involved in OSL lab work and fieldwork. Two new members have joined the group, Masters Students Freddie Mitchell and Jacob Southey, and two more have returned after absences due to covid, Hassan Bera and Tizian Fuhrer.

Aayush in the OSL lab working under red light conditions. The camera was part of a Channel 5 documentary about their work.


Sokó­ł K, Finch AA, Hutchison W, Cloutier J, Borst AM, Humphreys M (2022) Quantifying metasomatic HFSE-REE transport from alkaline magmas, Geology, 50, 305-310, doi.org/10.1130/G49471.1

Beard CD, Goodenough KM, Borst AM, Wall F, Siegfried PR, Deady EA, Pohl C, Hutchison W, Finch AA, Walter BF, Elliot HAL & Brauch K (2022) Alkaline Silicate Rare Earth and High Field Strength Element Systems. Economic Geology, in press.


Congratulations to Rob Webster who was awarded USD $5k from the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) Graduate Student Fellowship to support his Masters research on sulfur isotopes here at St Andrews.

New Members of the Group

Masters students – Freddie Mitchell (working with Scotgold Resources), Jacob Southey. We also saw the return of Hassan Bera and Tizian Fuhrer after covid. Audrey Asare has joined Tim and Aayush in the luminescence labs to work further on the geochemistry and OSL of the Durrington pits for her Masters Project.

Masters and PhD Studentship Opportunities

We have recently advertised a fully-funded PhD in Critical Metal Petrogenesis as part of the St Andrews – University of Oslo co-Tutelle PhD scheme. The studentship attracted some exceptionally high calibre candidates and we are going through the applications at present intending to draw up a shortlist.

We are always interested in hearing from candidates who would like to complete studies of the mineralogy, petrography and petrogenesis of alkaline igneous rocks and/or critical metal resources. The University also runs taught Masters programmes including Masters in Strategic Earth Resources and the Masters in Geochemistry. Adrian and the research group contribute several aspects to the delivery and content of these programmes and frequently supervise Masters projects (see below for some examples of these).


Adrian is involved in biomineralisation research which has submitted an abstract to Goldschmidt 2022 as part of Session 14a: Metal traces and their isotopes in carbonate minerals as tools for environmental reconstructions. Castillo Alvarez MC, Penkman K, Kroger R, Finch AA, Clog MD, Hathorne E & Allison N (2022) Controls on Sr partitioning in aragonite under simulated biogenic conditions.

Tim presented a keynote on 30 Mar 2022 at the Vegetation, Culture and Cultivation: Crop Wild Relatives in Israel conference at the Botanic Gardens, Jerusalem; his talk was entitled “Historic Agricultural Terraces as Sustainable Landscapes” in the session The Archaeology of Ancient and Traditional Mediterranean Agriculture. He also gave a research seminar at Newcastle University entitled “Stonehenge: (the OSL behind) The New Revelations” and a public outreach talk on the same theme to the Cults Hillwalking Society.


Dr Filippo Brandolini was a visitor to St Andrews during February to work with Tim and Aayush. He is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellow at Newcastle University who visited St Andrews luminescence dating laboratories in February, 2022 as the part of Historic Landscape and Soil Sustainability (HiLSS) project (EU Grant ID: 890561) with an aim to date the construction and use of agricultural structures in Vetto, northern Italy. He will use the chronological data generated at St Andrews to calculate specific soil erosion and deposition rates at a local catchment scale.

Filippo’s sampling at Vetto in Northern Italy, the samples from which were analysed at St Andrews.


Tim and Aayush have been busy, catching up international fieldwork programmes that were postponed because of covid. In March, Aayush was in the Northumberland national park with geoarchaeologists from Newcastle University to investigate the historic landscape change in the Northumberland’s upland valleys.

Aayush has also been working with a team from Oxford University on Northwest India to look into the dynamics of complex river systems in the region during the mid-Holocene period and understand the implications of changing hydrology for the geographical spread of the Indus Valley civilisation.

Meanwhile, Tim has been in Sierra Nevada (Granada) and the El Prats de Rei (Catalonia) hills on our TerraSAgE project; he has been in Rome at Caesar’s Forum; and Israel as part of the Vegetation, Culture and Cultivation: Crop Wild Relatives in Israel project, where he also gave the keynote at the internal workshop of the same name, hosted by the Jerusalem Botanic Garden and Hebrew University.


The exploration company Eclipse Metals issued a press release on ASX stock market following the announcement of Adrian’s co-tutelle studentship on the Ivigtut region, for which Eclipse hold the licence. This release was mirrored elsewhere, e.g. https://smallcaps.com.au/eclipse-metals-enters-academic-collaboration-re-develop-ivittuut-cryolite-project/, https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/975354/eclipse-metals-phd-collaboration-expected-to-have-immediate-impact-in-developing-ivittuut-as-source-for-critical-metals-in-europe-975354.html

On 15 Mar 2022, Adrian gave a talk to the “Energy Cafe” talk series at the University of St Andrews. This was about the role that mining has in delivering energy transitions. Where do we get the natural resources that are necessary to decarbonise energy systems. Is it important for Europe to develop its own resources and why hasn’t it already? The talk attracted widespread interest and praise, and is available here online.

And Finally….

Now that covid restrictions have been lifted, we have returned to the annual Geological Society ceilidh. Here are Adrian and Curtis getting back into the social frame of mind.

Adrian and Curtis at the 2022 Geological Society Ball
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