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Nicolas Thebaud

Senior Research Fellow

School of Earth Sciences - Centre for Exploration Targeting

Contact details

Robert Street Building, Rm 206
Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET)
School of Earth Sciences
The University of Western Australia (M006)
35 Stirling Highway

+618 6488 7139


Personal Profile
Research Output / Publications

I have completed my Ph.D between the University of Paris 6 and the University of Sydney in 2006. During my PhD studies I conducted competitive and interdisciplinary research, combining hard-rock field geology, structural geology, and petrography with cutting edge analytical techniques including high-resolution synchrotron microfluorescence X techniques for the analysis of single fluid inclusions. I applied this multidisciplinary approach to characterised and model the geometry and hydrodynamics of a Mesoarchean plumbing system in the Pilbara, to constrain the scale and magnitude of fluid circulations, their relationships with Archaean crustal geodynamics and their impact on the formation of ore deposits. From 2006 to late 2007 Thebaud spent 18 months expanding my skills and experience in mineral exploration as a structural geologist for Mercator Gold Australia. I have joined CET in October 2007 and I am currently the Hamond and Nisbet fellow. My research focuses on geodynamic and tectonic processes, their petrological and geochemical impacts, and their controls on the formation of ore deposits. Down the line, my research aims at unravelling the understanding and detection of mineralised systems. In a resource constrained world and with growing cost and energy pressures, sustainable metal production relies on the maximization of near-mine resource development and productivity. In providing an understanding of the physical and chemical processes leading to the solubilization, transport and deposition of metals in natural ore systems my research is critical for future sustainable development of a mineral resource sector.  

I have a broad range of skills and expertise in the field of Mineral System Science and my scientific contributions focus around three main themes. (1) Investigation of the lithospheric to continental architecture: Together with the research group I am working with at the CET (Dr T. Kemp, Prof M. Fiorentini, Prof M. Jessell), I have pioneered in combining classic structural geology, lithochemistry and petrology techniques with in-situ radiogenic and stable isotope analyses to reveal the lithospheric to craton scale architecture that funnelled both energy and mater in the making of ore deposits. Developed on the Archean Yilgarn Craton in Western Australia, I have further expanded its application on the Paleoproterozoic terrains of the West Africa craton but also more recent Phanerozoic terrains in the South American Cordillera. The generation of such dataset not only help peer into the lithospheric architecture that applies a direct control on the locus of metal accumulation, but it also provide a fantastic opportunity to evaluate crustal growth processes and associated geodynamic settings that punctuated and evolved over the Earth evolution. (2) 4D reconstruction of mineralised terrains: At the regional to camp scale, a large part of my research relies on the structural, stratigraphic, geophysical, geochronological and petrological evaluation of mineralised camps and deposits. The core of this multidisciplinary approach is dedicated to evaluate the metallogenic processes as part of the tectonic evolution of Precambrian and Phanerozoic terranes. My research helps framing the spatial and temporal context associated with ore deposit formation and therefore directly impact on the definition of new exploration strategies. As part of this research stream I work closely with scholars both nationally (Prof. J. Miller, Prof M. Dentith, Prof M. Jessell, Prof S. Hagemann, Dr P. Hayman, Dr Q. Masurel) and internationally (Prof Vanderhaege, Dr Eglinger, Dr L. Baratoux, Prof A.S. André-Mayer) (3) Geochemistry and mineralogy of ore forming processes: At the core of this research project application is my interest in further evaluating processes leading to metal transfer through the crust. For this research stream I collaborate with colleagues both in Australia (Dr L. Petrella, Dr D. Fougerousse, Prof K. Evans, Dr L. Martin, Dr S. Occhipinti) and internationally (Dr C. Laflamme). Using well constrained samples provided by the contextual, I investigate the solubilisation transport and deposition mechanisms using a combination of high resolution in-situ techniques. The development of micrometric techniques (SIMS, TIMA) and nanometric Transmitted Electronic Microscopy allow for the evaluation of the chemical processes leading to the solubilization, transport and deposition of metals in natural ore system. Such investigation recently led to the recognition, for the first time, of the role of nano-scale colloidal transport for high-grade gold deposits formation.

Nicolas Thebaud