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Wolfgang Maier

Professor Wolfgang Maier

Professor in Earth Science

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

+44 29208 75382
Main Building, Room 2.07, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Available for postgraduate supervision



Wolfgang's research deals with petrological and geochemical processes in mafic-ultramafic igneous systems that contribute to our understanding of continental magmatism, mantle evolution, plate tectonics and the formation of magmatic ore deposits including PGE, Ni-Cu, Cr, and V-Ti-Fe deposits. He is also interested in planetary evolution, meteorites and impact melt sheets, and in finding new approaches to make exploration and mining more sustainable, particularly in Africa.






























Book sections





Wolfgang's main research interests presently are (i) Mineralized magmatic systems in southern and central Africa (e.g. the PGE mineralized Bushveld Complex, Okiep, Ni deposits in the Tati greenstone belt and at Selebi Phikwe in Botswana, the Kunene gabbro-anorthosite Complex of Namibia/Angola, the Tete gabbro-anorthosite Complex of Mozambique, the Ni mineralized Kabanga-Kapalagulu-Musongati intrusions of Tanzania and Burundi, the Monts de Cristal intrusion of Gabon), Finland (Kevitsa, Penikat), Canada (Bell River and Highbank Lake Complexes), Brazil (Caraiba, Mirabela), Australia (Giles Complex, Hart dolerite), as well as Archean basalts and komatiites in the Pilbara, Karelian, and Kaapvaal cratons. (ii) PGE concentrations of the Earth's upper mantle, based on southern African and Finnish mantle xenoliths, peridotite mantle massifs (Outokumpu and Jormua, Finland), and SCLM derived magmas (GroupII kimberlites, alkali basalts), and implications for processes of partial melting and crystallization/ metasomatism in the upper mantle. (iii) The Morokweng meteorite and impact melt sheet.

Wolfgang studied geology at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany (MSc on South African BIFs, 1987) and Rhodes University, South Africa (PhD on the Bushveld Complex, 1992). He taught igneous petrology and economic geology at the Universities of Pretoria (South Africa), Chicoutimi (Canada), UWA (Australia), and Oulu (Finland). He joined Cardiff University in 2013.


My teaching interests span a relatively wide field. Throughout my career, I have been heavily involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching of igneous petrology, geochemistry, economic geology, mineralogy, and metamorphic petrology. I have co-led the annual mapping camp of the University of Pretoria (UP) Geology Department between 1998-2003, and organized and led several international field trips (South Africa and Cyprus several times, Kola peninsula).

Curriculum development has been one of my key responsibilities as a teacher during the last decade. In order to respond to the minerals boom in Scandinavia which has become the exploration and mining powerhouse of Europe, requiring an increasing number of geologists, I designed a new International Master Course that started in September 2012 at the Geology Department at Oulu University.

In addition to tertiary education, I have also been keenly interested in pre-university geological teaching and education. Between 1998-2001, I have participated in the University of Pretoria's geological education programme for final-year pupils at Pretoria secondary schools. South Africa's education system is in transformation and the programme is particularly aimed to enhance the scientific background of students from formerly disadvantaged backgrounds, a challenging but inspiring task.

Present Courses 

3rd year Ores and Ore Genesis 

3rd year Cyprus and North Wales excursions

2nd year Cornwall field excursion 

2nd year Exploration Case Studies





  • MSc (Hauptdiplom) (Munich), 1987
  • PhD "Geochemistry and petrology of UG2-Merensky Reef interval, Western Bushveld Complex" (Rhodes University, South Africa), 1992


  • GSSA (Geological Society of South Africa)
  • SEG (Society of Economic Geologists)
  • SGA (Society of Geologists Applied to Mineral Deposits)
  • IAGOD (International Association of Geologists working on Ore Deposits)

Summary of administrative activities

  • Member of Research Committee, Faculty of Science, Uni Oulu (2010-2013)
  • Member of Doctoral Training Committee, Faculty of Science, Oulu University
  • Member of Council of the Geological Society of South Africa (2000-2005)
  • Member of Council, Mineralogical Association of South Africa (2001-2004)
  • Convener of the Scientific Awards Committee of the Geological Society of South Africa (2001)

Research students

  •  Mathew Newell (PhD, from April 2020): Evaluating the battery mineral potential of Wales
  • Will Smith (PhD, 2017-present): Magmatic ore prospectivity of the Labrador Trough, Canada
  • Kate Jillings (PhD, 2015-present): Origin of the Flatreef PGE deposit, Bushveld Complex, South Africa
  • Bartosz Karykowski (PhD, 2014-2017): Petrogenesis of the Monchepluton, Kola Peninsula, Russia 
  • Dr Shenghong Yang (postdoc, 2011-2013): Petrogenesis of magmatic ore deposits
  • Dr Belinda Godel, Postdoc (October 2007 – 2009): Geochemistry of dykes at Nebo-Babel, and implications for Ni exploration in the Musgrave Block, Australia
  • Dr Ignacio Gonzalez-Alvarez, Postdoc (November 2007-2009): Global Ni assessment
  • Fangfang Guo (PhD (2011- present): Ni-PGE prospectivity of Finnish mafic-ultramafic rocks
  • Kirsi Luolavirta (PhD, 2011-2017): Petrogenesis of the Kevitsa Ni-Cu sulfide deposit, Lapland
  • Karolina.Björklund, PhD (2011-2016): Origin of Kleva Ni deposit, Sweden
  • Said Nuru, PhD (September 2007-Dec 2008): Petrogenesis of 2.7-2.9Ga basaltic and komatiitic dykes on the Yilgarn craton
  • Tawanda Manyeruke, PhD (September 2003-2007): Petrogenesis of the Platreef on the farm Nonnenwerth, northern Bushveld Complex.
  • Edward. Curl, PhD (1998 - 2001): Isotope, PGE and trace element characteristics of the parental melts to the Bushveld Complex: Significance with respect to plume-lithosphere interaction in the early Proterozoic and the genesis of magmatic sulphide deposits (Monash University).
  • Christoph Gauert, PhD (1996-1998): The petrogenesis of the Uitkomst Complex, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
  • Arttu Taipale MSc: The Mustavaara V deposit, Finland
  • Ilkka Seppänen (MSc 2011-present): Geochemistry of mafic-ultramafic lavas in the Oijärvi greenstone belt, Finland
  • Sanna Määttää (MSc, 2010-2012): Petrogenesis of Ni rich ore at Keivitsa, Finland
  • Kimmo Koppström (MSc, 2012): Host phases for Au mineralisation at Suurikuusikko Au mine, Kittilä
  • Markku Moilanen (MSc, 2010): Petrogenesis of the Lomalampi PGE deposit, Lapland
  • Tawanda Manyeruke, MSc (April 2002-August 2003): Petrogenesis of the Platreef on the farm Townlands.
  • Tafadzwa Gomwe, MSc (Jan. 2000 - March 2002): Isotope and trace element geochemistry of the Uitkomst Complex intersected by deep borehole SH 176.
  • Vierah Hulley, MSc (May 2000 – 2005) : Reaction relationships between country rock xenoliths and magma in the Uitkomst Complex.
  • Bart Albrechtsen, MSc (August 2000 - December 2002): The geology of the Ingeli lobe, Insizwa Complex, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.

Honours and awards

- Most downloaded paper in Mineralium Deposita 2019

- SGA award for best paper in Mineralium Deposita 2013-2014

- Adjunct Professorship: Oulu University, Finland (2014–present)   

- Visiting scientist, University of Rennes, France (August-September 1999)

- University of Pretoria, Faculty of Science medal: Young Researcher of the Year 1998

Academic positions

Professor: School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, since Sept. 2013

Professor: Dep. of Geology, University of Oulu, Finland, April 2009-August 2013

Senior Research Fellow: Centre for Exploration Targeting, Univ. Western Australia, July  2006 - March 2009

Research Professor: Univ. Québec at Chicoutimi, Canada, Dec 2004-June 2006

Lecturer (since July 1997), Senior Lecturer (since Jan. 2000), Associate Professor, (since Jan. 2001), Professor (Jan. 2004-Dec. 2005), Dept. of Geology, Univ of Pretoria, South Africa, July 1997 – November 2004

Lecturer: Dept. of Geology, Univ. of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Feb 1996-June 1997

Research Fellow: CERM, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada, Sep 1994 - Jan 1996

Post Doctoral Research Fellow: Dept. of Geology, Rhodes University, South Africa, March 1992 – June 1994

Committees and reviewing

- Convener of the Scientific Awards Committee of the Geol Soc South Africa (2001)

- Outer Board Assessor for the 2019 Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme,

- Assessor for Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships 2019

- Reviewing research proposals: National Science and Engineering Council (Canada), National Science Foundation (USA), Natural Environment Research Council (UK), National Research Foundation (SA), American Chemical Soc. (USA),   DFG (Germany)

- DFG review panel for SPP 2238 "Dynamics of Ore Meals Enrichment - DOME"


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

- Magmatic ore deposits

- Petroloogy of mafic and ultramafic rocks


Metals such as copper, nickel and platinum-group elements (PGE) are essential in confronting some of the world's greatest societal and industrial challenges. However, long-term resource depletion and decreasing explorable and mineable terrain threaten their availability and security of supply. Cardiff University (CU) research has led to a greater understanding of the formation of magmatic ore deposits – formed from the crystallisation and solidification of molten magma or lava and lie within igneous rocks – and the generation of new exploration strategies and targets.  This work has been conducted with partners across the globe, including Ivanplats in South Africa, Northern Shield in Canada, the Geological Survey of Western Australia and the Geological Survey of Finland. The research has directly resulted in the discovery of several large deposits and in more efficient exploration and mining, with important cost savings and reduced social and environmental impact.