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Duncan Muir

Dr Duncan Muir

Senior Electron Microbeam Specialist

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

+44 29208 75059
Main Building, Room 0.16A, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT


I run the Earth Sciences Electron Microbeam Facility, assisting users with their scanning electron microscope (SEM) related imaging and chemical analysis. I also use electron microscopy for my own research investigating magma system processes of subduction zone volcanoes.

Our Electron Microbeam Facility provides a service to the Earth and Environmental Sciences School as well as to all other Cardiff University departments. We also welcome users from outside the University, both academic and/or commercial. 


  • Electron microscopy
  • In-situ chemical analysis of minerals and glasses
  • Nano- and micrometre scale imaging
  • Igneous petrology
  • Experimental petrology
  • Volcanology
















I use electron microscopy to investigate magma system processes beneath arc volcanoes. Through imaging and chemical analysis of volcanic and plutonic rocks, and their constituent minerals and glasses, I aim to understand how magmas evolve in the crust, the pressures and temperatures at which they are stored, and implications for eruptive processes. I have worked on a wide range of volcanic systems from the Cascades, the Andes and the Sumatran arc. Where possible, I employ experimental petrology to replicate magma storage conditions in the crust and to relate these experimental findings to natural rocks. I am also interested in using electron backscatter diffraction to investigate deformation processes in igneous rocks to try to better understand crystallisation histories and pluton construction and am actively looking for collaborators.

By assisting less experienced electron microscopy users with their research, I have been involved with a range of projects. In Earth Sciences, these include investigations of platinum group miinerals in ore deposits, potential for carbon capture and storage in coal tips, and the formation of the continental crust in Early Earth. Outside of Earth Sciences, I have published in subjects as diverse as cancer research, to infectious biofilms in hospital environments, to the anatomy of pig eyes.


I teach basic undergraduate fieldwork skills in various locations in South Wales. I also teach on the Geology and Mineral Exploration Cyprus field course.


Education and qualifications

  • 2013: PhD (Earth Sciences) University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 2008: MSc (Earth Sciences) University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 2004: BSc (Earh Sciences) University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Career overview

  • 2015 - present: Senior electron microbeam specialist, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2006 - 2009: Engineering Geology and Geotechnical staff, Fugro Geoconsulting Ltd., Oxford, UK
  • 2005 - 2006: Exploration Geologist, Almaden Minerals Ltd., Vancouver, Canada

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Royal Microscopy Society

Academic positions

  • 2013 - 2015: Postdoctoral researcher, Uppsala University, Sweden

Committees and reviewing

  • Member of the Physical Sciences and Engineering Committee, Royal Microscopy Society


  • Careers and role model panel, Grangetown Community Gateway, Cardiff (June 2020)