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Franco Pirajno

Adjunct Professor

School of Earth Sciences - Centre for Exploration Targeting

Contact details


64 Granadilla Street
WA  6023

Cell Phone
+61 (0) 488 194 350


Franco Pirajno, has considerable experience in tectonics, ore deposit geology and mineral exploration in Europe, southern Africa, South East Asia, New Zealand, the southwest Pacific, China, Greenland, southern and eastern Siberia, and Australia.

Prior to joining the Geological Survey of Western Australia in 1993, Franco worked for the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Ltd, as Exploration Geologist, following a spell as a post-doctoral research scientist at the Vesuvius Volcano Observatory. Whilst with Anglo American, he participated and supervised exploration projects in many parts of southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South West Pacific islands and Indonesia. Promoted to Exploration Manager of the Company’s activities in the South West Pacific till 1983, when appointed to the Chair of Economic Geology at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

As Director of MSc courses at Rhodes University, Franco was involved in both academic and administrative aspects. Research activity was mainly on precious metals and base metals mineral deposits in the southern African subcontinent. The MSc courses in Exploration Geology and in Economic Geology (course + research) were very intensive and with emphasis on field-based studies of ore deposits, their genesis and tectonic settings. This afforded the unique opportunity of examining and studying a large number and range of mineral systems in the southern African subcontinent. These included mineral systems in:

•    Archaean granite greenstone terranes
•    Proterozoic intracratonic basins
•    Rift associated mineral deposits
•    Layered mafic-ultramafic complexes
•    Metamorphic belts of Proterozoic age
•    Alkaline complexes and anorogenic magmatism
•    Carbonate rocks in passive margin settings

In the last 23 years Franco Pirajno has worked extensively in Western Australia’s Proterozoic terranes and was instrumental in the discovery of a new large igneous province in Australia. Visiting Professor at Peking University in 2003 and China University of Geosciences, Beijing in 2004. Distinguished Foreign Professor at Hefei University of Technology, September-October 2012. Member of the Steering Committee of the Large Igneous Provinces Working Group. Associate Editor for the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, Gondwana Research and on the Editorial Board of Russian Geology and Geophysics. Appointed Editor-in-Chief of Ore Geology Reviews in March 2012 and Series Editor of Solid Earth Sciences (Springer) in November 2012.

In his role as Editor-in-Chrif of Ore Geology Reveiws since 2012, the Impact Factor of the journal has risen substancially, as shown below:
2015/mid-2016 Impact Factor: 3.819
2014 Impact Factor: 3.558
2013 Impact Factor: 3.383
2012 Impact Factor: 2.417

Supervised and/or reviewed 60 MSc and PhD theses.

Current honorary appointments include: Adjunct Professor at Centre for Exploration Targeting (University of Western Australia) and Chinese Academfy of Geological Sciences (Beijing); Honorary Professor at the Chinese University of Geosceince (Beijing). Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University of New South Wales, Sydney and Honorary Research Fellow at CERCAMS (Centre for Russian and Central EurAsian Mineral Studies), Natural History Museum, London. Nominated highest cited author by Thomson-Reuter for 2011 in Economic Geology at University of Western Australia.


  • Studies of regional tectonics and metallogeny
  • Studies of hydrothermal systems and alteration patterns
  • Ancient and recent volcanic systems and related mineralisation
  • Conceptual modelling of ore deposit systems
  • Meteorite impacts and related hydrothermal systems
  • Analogues of hydrothermal systems on other planets of the Solar System
  • Mantle plumes and large igneous provinces

Specialist courses offered:

  • Short course on mineral systems: principles and genetic concepts


Fluent in English and Italian. Good working knowledge of Latin, Portuguese, French and Spanish

Other interests:                     

Planetary Science, Early Roman History, Chinese history and culture

Professional Memberships

  1. Geological Society of Australia
  2. Fellow, Society of Economic Geologists.
  3. Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits
  4. Geological Society of America
  5. International Association on the Genesis of Ore Deposits (IAGOD)


Selected Publications


Pirajno  F. 1992. Hydrothermal Mineral Deposits - Principles and fundamental concepts for the Exploration Geologist. Springer Verlag, 708 pp.

Pirajno  F.  2000, Ore Deposits and Mantle Plumes. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 556 pp.

Pirajno  F.  2009. Hydrothermal processes and mineral systems.  Springer, Berlin, 1250 pp.

Pirajno F. 2013. The Geology And Tectonic Settings Of China’s Mineral Deposits. Springer, 679 pp.


Brathwaite, R.L., Pirajno, F. 1993. The Metallogenic Map of New Zealand. Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Monograph 3, 215 pp. Lower Hutt, New Zealand.


Pirajno, F. 2007. Ancient to modern Earth: the role of mantle plumes in the making of continental crest, In: Van Kranendonk MJ, Smithies RH, Bennett VC (eds), Earth’s oldest rocks, Chpt 8.3, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 1037-1064.

Huston DL, Morant P, Pirajno F, Cummins B, Baker D, Mernagh TP, 2007. Palaeoarchean mineral deposits of the Pilbara Craton: genesis, tectonic environment and comparisons with younger deposits. In: Van Kranendonk MJ, Smithies RH, Bennett VC (eds), Earth’s oldest rocks, Chpt 4.4, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 411-450

Pirajno, F. 2013. Chapter 7: Effects of metasomatism on mineral systems and their host rocks: alkali metasomatism, skarns, greisens, tourmalinites, rodingites, black-wall alteration and listvenites , in: Harlov DE and Austrheim H (eds) Metasomatism and metamorphism: the role of fluids in crustal and upper mantle processes, Lecture Series in Earth Science, Springer, pp 203-251

Pirajno, F. (2017, in press) Chapter 12:Halogens in hydrothermal fluids and their role in the formation and evolution of hydrothermal mineral systems. Harlov DE (ed), Lecture Series in Earth Science, Springer


  1. Pirajno, F., Burlow, R., Huston, D (2010) The Magellan Pb deposit, Western Australia; a new category within the class of supergene non-sulphide mineral systems. Ore Geology Reviews, v. 37: 101-113.
  2. Pirajno, F, (2010) Intracontinental strike-slip faults, associated magmatism, mineral systems and mantle dynamics; examples from NW China and Altay-Sayan (Siberia). Journal of Geodynamics. v. 50: 325-346
  3. Zhao, D., Pirajno, F., Dobretsov, N. L., Liu, L., 2010. Mantle structure and dynamics under East Russia and adjacent regions. Russian Geology and Geophysics, v. 51: 901-914.
  4. Pirajno, F., de Boorder, H., Borisenko, A. S. 2010. Ore deposits of central Asia: from Siberia to northwest China. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v.57(6): 651-653
  5. Zhang, Z. H., Mao, J. W., Wang, Z. L., Pirajno, F., Wang, Y. B., 2010. Geochemical and SHRIMP U-Pb age constraints on the origin of the Qingbulake mafic-ultramafic complex in the West Tianshan Mountains. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v.57(6): 819-837.
  6. Seltmann, R., Soloviev, S., Shatov, V., Pirajno, F., Naumov, E., Cherkasov, S. 2010. Metallogeny of Siberia: tectonic, geologic and metallogenic settings of selected significant deposits. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v.57(6): 655-706.
  7. Lü LS, Mao JW, Li HB, Pirajno, F, Zhang ZH, Zhou, ZH. 2011. Pyrrhotite Re-Os and SHRIMP zircon dating of the Hongqiling Ni-Cu sulfide deposits in northeast China. Ore Geology Reviews, v. 43(1): 106-119
  8. Zhang XJ, Zhang LC, Xiang P, Bo W, Pirajno F (2011) Zircon U-Pb age, Hf isotopes and geochemistry of Shuichang Algoma-type banded iron-formation, North China Craton: constraints on the ore forming age and tectonic setting. Gondwana Research, v. 20(1): 137-148
  9. Pirajno F, Seltmann, R, YangYQ (2011)  A review of mineral systems and associated tectonic settings of northern Xinjiang, NW China. Geoscience Frontiers v. 2(2): 157-185
  10. Mao JW, Zhang JD  Pirajno F,  Ishiyama D,  Su HM  Guo CL, Chen YC (2011) Porphyry Cu-Au-Mo – epithermal Ag-Pb-Zn – distal hydrothermal Au deposits in the Dexing area, Jiangxi province, East China: a linked ore system. Ore Geology Reviews 43(1): 203-216
  11. Mao JW, Xie GQ, Chao,D, Pirajno F, Ishiyama D, Chen YC (2011) A tectono-genetic model for porphyry Cu-Au-Mo-Fe and magnetite-apatite deposits along the Middle-Lower Yangtze River Valley, eastern China. Ore Geology Reviews 43(1): 294-314
  12. Mao JW, Pirajno F, Xiang JF, Gao JJ, Ye HS, Li YF, Guo BJ (2011) Mesozoic molybdenum deposits in the East Qinling-Dabie orogenic belt: characteristics and tectonic settings. Ore Geology Reviews 43(1): 264-293
  13. Lü LS, Mao JW, Li HB, Pirajno F, Zhang ZH, Zhou ZH (2011) Pyrrhotite Re-Os and SHRIMP zircon U-Pb dating of the Hongqiling Ni-Cu sulfide deposits in NE China. Ore Geology Reviews 43(1): 106-119
  14. Mao JW, Pirajno, F, Cook, NJ, 2011. Mesozoic metallogeny in East China and corresponding geodynamic settings – an introduction to the special issue. Ore Geology Reviews 43(1): 264-293.
  15. Yang, F., Mao, JW., Pirajno, F., Yan, S., Liu, G., Zhou, G., Zhang, Z., Liu, F., Geng, X.,Guo, C. (2012) A review of the geological characteristics and geodynamic setting of Late Paleozoic porphyry copper deposits in the Junggar region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Northwest China. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences  49: 80-98
  16. Li, N., Chen, YJ., Pirajno, F., Gong, HJ., Mao, SD., Ni, ZY. (2012) LA-ICP-MS zircon U-Pb dating, trace element and Hf isotope geochemistry of the Heyu granite batholith, eastern Qinling, central China: Implications for Mesozoic tectono-magmatic evolution. Lithos 142-143: 34-47
  17. Chen YJ, Pirajno F., Wu G.,Qi, JP., Xiong.XL. (2012). Epithermal deposits in North Xinjiang, NW China. International Journal of Earth Science 101(4): 889-917
  18. Mao JW, Pirajno F., Zhang ZH, Wan YS (2012). SHRIMP zircon U-Pb dating of alkaline dykes in the Pobei area, Beishan rift, Xinjiang Autonomous region, China: Implications for tectonic setting and mantle plume events. Acta Geologica Sinica 86)4): 879-884
  19. Pirajno, F., Hoatson, D. (2012) A review of Australia’s Large Igneous Provinces and associated mineral systems: implications for mantle dynamics through geological time. Ore Geology Reviews, 48: 2-54
  20. Li, N., Chen YJ., Pirajno, F., Ni ZY. (2013) Timing of the Yuchinling giant porphyry Mo system and implications for ore genesis. Mineralium Deposita, 48: 505-524
  21. Mao, JW, Cheng, Y. Chen, MH, Pirajno, F. (2013) Major types and time-space distribution of Mesozoic ore deposits in South China and their geodynamic settings. Mineralium Deposita, 48: 267–294
  22. Pirajno, F, González-Álvarez, I. (2013) A re-appraisal of the Epoch nickel sulphide deposit, Filabusi Greenstone Belt, Zimbabwe: a hydrothermal nickel mineral system? Ore Geology Reviews, 52: 58-65
  23. Akin, S, Pufhal, P, Hiatt, E, Pirajno, F, (2013) Formation, sequence stratigraphy, paragenesis Paleoproterozoic, Frere Formation, oceanic upwelling, shallow-water iron. Sedimentology, 60: 1559-1582.
  24. Seltmann, R, Porter, TM, Pirajno, F (2014) Geodynamics and metallogeny of the central Eurasian porphyry and related epithermal mineral systems: a review. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 79(B): 810-841.
  25. Pufhal P, Pirajno F. Hiatt E (2013) Riverine mixing and fluvial iron formation: a new type of Precambrian biochemical sediment. Geology, 41(12): 1235–1238.
  26. Goryachev N, Pirajno F (2014) Gold deposits and gold metallogeny of Far East Russia. Ore Geology Reviews, doi: 10.1016/j.oregeorev.2013.11.010
  27. Mao JW, Pirajno F, Lehmann B, Luo MC, Berzina A.  (2014) Distribution of porphyry deposits in the Eurasian continent and their corresponding tectonic settings. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 79(B): 576-584
  28. Pirajno, F, González-Álvarez I, Chen W, Kyser K., Simonetti A, leGras M (2014) The Gifford creek ferrocarbonatite complex, Gascoyne province, Western Australia, associated fenitic alteration and a putative link with the ~1075 Ma Warakurna LIP. Lithos, 202-203:100-119
  29. Pirajno, F, Santosh, M. (2014) Rifting, intraplate magmatism, mineral systems and mantle dynamics in central Eurasia: An overview. Ore Geology Reviews, 63: 265-295
  30. Pirajno F, Zhou TF, (2015) Intracontinental porphyry and porphyry-skarn mineral systems in eastern China: scrutiny of a special case “made-in-china”. Economic Geology, 110: 603-629
  31. Yang YF, Chen YJ, Pirajno F, Ni L (2015) Evolution of ore fluids in the Donggou giant porphyry Mo system, East Qinling, China, a new type of porphyry Mo deposit: Evidence from fluid inclusions and H-O isotope systematics. Ore Geology Reviews, 65(1): 148-164
  32. Pirajno F, (2015) Intracontinental anorogenic alkaline magmatism and carbonatites, associated mineral systems and the mantle plume connection. Gondwana Research, 28: 1181-1216
  33. Pirajno F, Santosh M (2015) Mantle plumes, supercontinents, intracontinental rifting and mineral systems. Precambrian Research, 259: 243-261
  34. Pirajno F, Mernagh, TP, Huston, D, Creaser RA, Seltmann R (2016) The Mesoproterozoic Abra polymetallic sedimentary rock-hosted mineral deposit, Edmund Basin, Western Australia. Ore Geology Reviews, 76: 442-462
  35. Pirajno, F. (2016) A classification of mineral systems, overviews of plate tectonic margins and examples of ore deposits associated with convergen
  36. t margins. Gondwana Research, 33: 44-62
  37. Pirajno F, Chen YJ, Li N, Li C, Zhou LM (2016) Besshi-type mineral systems in the Palaeoproterozoic Bryah Basin, Capricorn Orogen, Western Australia: tectonic setting and geodynamic evolution. Geoscience Frontiers, 7: 345-357
  38. Li N, Pirajno F, (2016). Triassic (-Early Jurassic) Mo mineralization in the Qinling Orogen and implications for the closure of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. Ore Geology Reviews, 81: 431-450
  39. Stoppa FGM, Pirajno F, Schiazza M, Vladykin NV (2016). State of the art: Italian carbonatites and their potential for critical-metal deposits. Gondwana Research, 37: 152-171
  40. Zhong J, Pirajno F, Chen YJ (2016) Epithermal deposits in South China: Geology, geochemistry, geochronology and tectonic setting. Gondwana Research, doi: 10.1016/j.gr.2016.10.008
  41. Yang WY, Lai SD, Pirajno F, Liu YL, Mingxing L., Sun WD, Tian PF, Yuan WM, Liu JY, 2017, Genesis of the Bayan Obo Fe-REE-Nb formation in Inner Mongolia, north China Craton: a perspective review. Precambrian Research, 288: 39-71
  42. Dodd M, Papineau, D., Grenne, T. Slack, J. F., Rittner, M.,, J., Pirajno, F., O’Neil, Little, C.T.S (in press) Evidence for early life in Earth’s oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates. Nature

Published 1:50 000 (1:50K), 1:100 000, 1:250 000 (1:250K) and 1:500 000 (1:500K) scale geological maps, Rhodes University, Geological Survey of Western Australia and Geological Survey of Greenland

  1. Erongo Volcanic Complex (1:50K, Namibia)
  2. Bryah
  3. Glengarry
  4. Mooloogool
  5. Thaduna
  6. Cunyu
  7. Fairbairn
  8. Nabberu
  9. Bryah and Padbury Basins (1:500K)
  10. Yerrida Basin (1:500K)
  11. Rhodes
  12. Earaheedy
  13. Shoemaker Impact Structure
  14. Mudan
  15. Glenayle
  16. Nabberu (1:250K)
  17. Von Treuer
  18. Bates (West Musgrave)
  19. Bell Rock (West Musgrave)
  20. Inglefield Land (1:250K, NW Greenland)