Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Professor of Geology



j.wilkinson Website




PA418Natural History MuseumNatural History Museum





Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding the geochemistry of hydrothermal fluid-rock interactions in the Earth's crust, in particular how metals are transported, deposited and dispersed in ore-forming systems. Current research areas include:

  • Controls of metallogenic fertility of arc magmas
  • Porphyry ore deposit genesis
  • Mineral chemistry of hydrothermal alteration and exploration applications
  • Applications of multivariate statistics, AI and machine learning techniques to mineral exploration
  • Use of transition metal isotopes (Zn Cu, Fe) for tracing metal sources, flow pathways and depositional mechanisms
  • Geochemistry of sediment-hosted ore systems

For more information, go to my research page 


  • Honorary Lecturer, University College London, 2020-
  • Professor of Geology, Imperial College London, 2019-
  • LODE Director and Research Leader in Mineral Deposits, Natural History Museum, 2014-
  • Honorary Research Associate, University of Tasmania, 2010-
  • Visiting Research Professor, CODES, University of Tasmania, 2008-2010
  • Reader, Imperial College London, 2004-2019
  • Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London, 1999-2004
  • Lecturer, Imperial College, 1997-1999
  • Minorco Lecturer in Mineral Deposit Studies, Imperial College, 1993-1997
  • Shell Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Imperial College, 1990-1992
  • PhD, University of Southampton, 1986-1989
  • BA (Hons) Geological Sciences, Cambridge University, 1983-1986

Recent Measures of Esteem

  • 2018 Keynote Speaker: Gordon Conference on Geochemistry of Ore Deposits, New Hampshire, USA
  • 2017 Keynote Speaker: Geological Society’s Flagship Fermor Meeting: Factory Earth, London, UK
  • 2016 Invited speaker, 35th International Geological Congress, Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2015 Invited speaker, Sediment-hosted ores session, SEG Biennial Conference, Hobart, Tasmania
  • 2015 Invited speaker, AMIRA Biennial Exploration Managers Conference, Barossa Valley, Australia


  • SEG Council, 2018-
  • Editorial Board, Economic Geology (2005-2008, 2016-)

Invited Lectures and Presentations

  • Keynote speaker: MDSG Annual Winter Meeting, University of Oxford, 2015
  • Invited Speaker: Porphyry ore deposits session, EGU, Vienna, 2014
  • Invited Presenter: African Metallogeny II, second SGA-SEG-UNESCO short course, Kitwe, Zambia, June 2013
  • Invited Speaker: AMIRA Biennial Exploration Managers conference, Perth, March 2012
  • Session Convenor & Conference Proceedings Co-editor: Porphyry deposits, 11th Biennial SGA Meeting, Antofagasta, September 2011
  • Session Convenor & Conference Proceedings Co-editor: Fluids from the core to the ore, Geological Society Fermor Meeting, London, September 2011
  • Invited Speaker: 13th Quadrennial IAGOD Symposium, Adelaide, April 2010
  • Invited Speaker: CODES 20th Anniversary Symposium, Hobart, December, 2009
  • Plenary Speaker: 10th Biennial SGA Meeting, Townsville, Australia, August 2009
  • Invited Speaker: Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Annual Convention, Toronto, March 2008
  • Invited Speaker: Ores and Orogenesis Symposium, Tucson, September 2007
  • Session Convenor & Conference Proceedings Co-editor: Carbonate-hosted Zn-Pb deposits, 9th Biennial SGA Meeting, Dublin, August 2007
  • Presenter: Workshop on sediment-hosted Pb-Zn deposits, 9th Biennial SGA Meeting, Dublin, August 2007
  • Keynote Speaker: Gordon Conference on Inorganic Geochemistry of Ore Deposits, August 2005
  • Invited Speaker: Penrose Conference on Mass Transfer in Continental Magmatic-Hydrothermal Systems, Yellowstone and Butte, Montana, 2004
  • Keynote Speaker: Geological Society of America Meeting, SEG special session on Cathodoluminescence, Seattle, 2003
  • Invited Speaker: Geological Society Fermor Flagship Meeting: World Class Mineral Deposits and Earth Evolution, Cardiff, 2003
  • Invited Speaker: P. Moeller Symposium, GFZ Potsdam, 2002
  • Invited Contribution: Lithos Special Issue on current state of knowledge on fluid inclusions: "Fluid Inclusions: Phase Relationships - Methods - Applications", 2001
  • Invited Speaker: Europe's Major Base Metal Deposits, Galway, 2000

Other Significant Activities

Research Refereeing and Reviews

Research Grant reviews carried out for NERC, NSF (USA), NSERC (Canada)

External Research Review, Earth Sciences, Monash University

Media and Public Understanding of Science

  • Co-editor of Futurum article "Magma Detectives: studying volcanic arcs to find valuable minerals in Earth’s crust"
  • PR article about research group’s use of Linkam Scientific’s heating-freezing stages (
  • Interview for Earth Magazine about the origins of porphyry copper deposits: (http://www.earthmagazine .org/article/studies-re-examine-how-major-copper-deposits-form)
  • Interview about banded iron formation specimen in the Natural History Museum's Hintze Hall -
  • Interview for - earthquakes and gold:;
  • Interview broadcast on BBC World Business Reports: Careers for geologists in the mining industry
  • Interview broadcast on the "Today" programme on Radio 4: Careers for geologists in the mining industry
  • Expert advice provided for the BBC TV series: "Earth: The Power of the Planet", Episode 2, The Atmosphere
  • Expert advice provided to Sunday Times: article on "coltan" mining in Africa

Supervised PhD Student awards & prizes

2020: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize - Chetan Nathwani

2020: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Anglo American student poster prize - Emily Brugge

2019: SEG Fellowship (Ethan Tonks)

2019: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize - Chetan Nathwani

2017: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize - joint winner (James Davey - joint student with Southampton University)

2016: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize (Adam Pacey)

2015: SEG conference student talk prize - second place (Adam Pacey)

2013: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize (Edward Spencer)

2012: SEG Fellowship (Adam Pacey)

2011: Student poster prize SGA 2011 Conference (Edward Spencer)

2008: SEG Fellowship (Victoria Vry)

2008: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize (Victoria Vry)

2008: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Anglo American student poster prize (Penelope Small, Kingston University)

2007: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize (Ian Cope)

2006: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize (John Chapman)

2003: Geological Society Fermor Meeting Anglo American student poster prize (Helen Crowther)

2003: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize (Barry Stoffell)

2002: Mineral Deposits Studies Group AGM Rio Tinto student talk prize (Claire Chamberlain)

1997: Judd Prize, best PhD (Sarah Gleeson)

Plenary Lectures

Plenary Speaker: 10th Biennial SGA Meeting, Townsville, Australia, August 2009

"Making metal super-charged ore fluids: The key to hydrothermal base-metal ore formation?"

Co-authors: David R. Cooke (CODES, ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, University of Tasmania), Dominik J. Weiss, Helen L. Crowther, Barry J. Coles (Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London), Teresa E. Jeffries (Department of Mineralogy, Natural History Museum), Chris G. Ryan, Jamie Laird (CSIRO Exploration and Mining, School of Physics, University of Melbourne)

Abstract. The formation of large hydrothermal ore deposits is optimized by several factors: efficient extraction of metals from the source region, elevated metal concentrations in hydrothermal fluids, high fluid flux, effective focusing of fluids into a limited rock volume and efficient precipitation. Of these parameters, metal solubility displays the widest variability (up to 4 orders of magnitude) and is potentially the most important. A case study tracing metal transport in the Irish orefield suggests that efficient extraction from the source rocks is critical for the formation of economic deposits. The observation that ore fluids trapped in sphalerite contain orders of magnitude more metal than those in quartz implies that ore deposition is related to the influx of metal super-charged brines produced by this efficient leaching process. Large parts of the hydrothermal system in space and time may be barren due to a failure to attain efficient extraction and transport conditions.

Keywords. hydrothermal, ore, metal, solubility, source, leaching

Other publications

Link to BENCHMARK paper in Science:

Wilkinson, JJ, Stoffell, B, Wilkinson, CC, Jeffries, TE, and Appold, M., 2009, Anomalously metal-rich fluids form hydrothermal ore deposits. Science, v. 323, p. 764-767.

Other Teaching

2001, 2007 Teaching on Hydrothermal Geochemistry Module, Mineral Exploration MSc, Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, University of Tasmania

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Nathwani C, Wilkinson J, Fry G, et al., 2022, Machine learning for geochemical exploration: classifying metallogenic fertility in arc magmas and insights into porphyry copper deposit formation, Mineralium Deposita, Vol:57, ISSN:0026-4598, Pages:1143-1166

Loader MA, Wilkinson JJ, Armstrong RN, 2017, The effect of titanite crystallisation on Eu and Ce anomalies inzircon and its implications for the assessment of porphyry Cu deposit fertility, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol:472, ISSN:0012-821X, Pages:107-119

Wilkinson JJ, Chang Z, Cooke DR, et al., 2015, The chlorite proximitor: A new tool for detecting porphyry ore deposits, Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Vol:152, ISSN:0375-6742, Pages:10-26

Wilkinson JJ, 2013, Triggers for the formation of porphyry ore deposits in magmatic arcs, Nature Geoscience, Vol:6, ISSN:1752-0894, Pages:917-925

Wilkinson JJ, Simmons SF, Stoffell B, 2013, How metalliferous brines line Mexican epithermal veins with silver, Scientific Reports, Vol:3, Pages:1-7

Wilkinson JJ, Crowther HL, Coles BJ, 2011, Chemical mass transfer during hydrothermal alteration of carbonates: Controls of seafloor subsidence, sedimentation and Zn-Pb mineralization in the Irish Carboniferous, Chemical Geology, Vol:289, ISSN:0009-2541, Pages:55-75

Wilkinson JJ, Stoffell B, Wilkinson CC, et al., 2009, Anomalously metal-rich fluids form hydrothermal ore deposits, Science, Vol:323, Pages:764-767

Stoffell B, Appold MS, Wilkinson JJ, et al., 2008, Geochemistry and Evolution of Mississippi Valley-Type Mineralizing Brines from the Tri-State and Northern Arkansas Districts Determined by LA-ICP-MS Microanalysis of Fluid Inclusions, Economic Geology, Vol:103, ISSN:0361-0128, Pages:1411-1435

Mason TFD, Weiss DJ, Chapman JB, et al., 2005, Zn and Cu isotopic variability in the Alexandrinka volcanic-hosted massive sulphide (VHMS) ore deposit, Urals, Russia, Chemical Geology, Vol:221, ISSN:0009-2541, Pages:170-187

Wilkinson JJ, Everett CE, Boyce AJ, et al., 2005, Intracratonic crustal seawater circulation and the genesis of subseafloor zinc-lead mineralization in the Irish orefield, Geology, Vol:33, ISSN:0091-7613, Pages:805-808

Wilkinson JJ, Weiss DJ, Mason TFD, et al., 2005, Zinc isotope variation in hydrothermal systems: Preliminary evidence from the Irish midlands ore field, Economic Geology, Vol:100, ISSN:0361-0128, Pages:583-590

Stoffell B, Wilkinson JJ, Jeffries TE, 2004, Metal transport and deposition in hydrothermal veins revealed by 213nm UV laser ablation microanailysis of single fluid inclusions, American Journal of Science, Vol:304, ISSN:0002-9599, Pages:533-557

Wilkinson JJ, 2003, On diagenesis, dolomitisation and mineralisation in the Irish Zn-Pb orefield, Mineralium Deposita, Vol:38, ISSN:0026-4598, Pages:968-983

Gleeson SA, Wilkinson JJ, Stuart FM, et al., 2001, The origin and evolution of base metal mineralising brines and hydrothermal fluids, South Cornwall, UK, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol:65, ISSN:0016-7037, Pages:2067-2079

Parnell J, Earls G, Wilkinson JJ, et al., 2000, Regional fluid flow and gold mineralization in the Dalradian of the Sperrin Mountains, northern Ireland, Economic Geology, Vol:95, ISSN:0361-0128, Pages:1389-1416

Cole A, Wilkinson JJ, Halls C, et al., 2000, Geological characteristics, tectonic setting and preliminary interpretations of the Jilau gold-quartz vein deposit, Tajikistan, Mineralium Deposita, Vol:35, ISSN:0026-4598, Pages:600-618

Gleeson SA, Wilkinson JJ, Shaw HF, et al., 2000, Post-magmatic hydrothermal circulation and the origin of base metal mineralization, Cornwall, UK, Journal of the Geological Society, Vol:157, ISSN:0016-7649, Pages:589-600

Gleeson, S.A., Wilkinson, J.J., Boyce, A.J., et al., 1999, On the occurrence and wider implications of anomalously low deltaD fluids in quartz veins, South Cornwall, England, Chemical Geology (isotope Geoscience), Vol:160, Pages:161-173

Hopkinson, L., Roberts, S., Herrington, R.J., et al., 1998, Self-organisation of submarine hydrothermal siliceous deposits: Evidence from the TAG hydrothermal mound, 26N Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Geology, Vol:26, Pages:347-350

Wilkinson JJ, Johnston JD, 1996, Pressure fluctuations, phase separation, and gold precipitation during seismic fracture propagation, Geology, Vol:24, ISSN:0091-7613, Pages:395-398

Wilkinson, J.J., Rankin, A.H., Nolan, J., 1996, Silicothermal fluid: A novel medium for mass transport in the lithosphere, Geology, Vol:24, Pages:1059-1062



Cope IL, Wilkinson JJ, Boyce AJ, et al., 2008, Genesis of the Pic de Fon Iron Oxide Deposit, Simandou Range, Republic of Guinea, West Africa, Banded Iron Formation-Related High-Grade Iron Ore, Editor(s): Hagemann, Rosière, Gutzmer, Beukes, Littleton, CO, USA, Society of Economic Geologists, ISBN:978-1-934969-07-6



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