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Franco Pirajno

Adjunct Professor
Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET)

Mineral Systems Studies
Geological Survey of Western Australia

Contact details


100 Plain Street
Mineral House
East Perth WA 6004

+61 8 9222 3155
+61 (0) 488 194 350

Franco Pirajno, a senior geoscientist in the Minerals Geoscience
Resources section of the Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA), 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 GSWA 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 other types of anorogenic magmatism products
•    Carbonate rocks in passive margin settings

In the last 20 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. Appointed Foreign Editor for the GeoScience Frontiers journal of Peking University and China University of Geosciences in 2004. Appointed Chairperson of SEG Fellowship Admissions Committee for 2009-2011. Associate Editor 2008-2014 for the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, on the Editorial Board of Russian Geology and Geophysics and Lithos. Appointed Editor-in-Chief of Ore Geology Reviews in March 2012 and Series Editor of Solid Earth Sciences (Springer) in November 2012. Member of the Steering Committee of the Large Igneous Provinces Working Group.

Supervised and/or reviewed 57 MSc and PhD theses.

Current honorary appointments include: Adjunct Professor at Centre for Exploration Targeting (University of Western Australia). 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:

  • Ore deposits models to Honours class, University of Western Australia
  • Short course on mineral systems, Korean Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources

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. 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


  1. Chen, Y-J., Chen, H-Y., Zaw, K., Pirajno, F., Zhang, Z-J. (2007). Geodynamic setting and tectonic model of skarn gold deposits in China: An overview. Ore Geology Reviews, v. 31: 139-169.
  2. Pirajno, F. (2007). Mantle plumes, associated intraplate tectono-magmatic processes and ore systems. Episodes, v. 30: 6-19
  3. Han, Y-G., Zhang, S-H., Pirajno, F., Zhang, Y-H. (2007). Evolution of the Mesozoic granites in the Xiong’ershan-Waifangshan region, western Henan province, China, and its tectonic implications. Acta Geologica Sinica, v. 81(2): 253-265.
  4. Cai M-G., Mao J-W., Ting, L., Pirajno, F., Huang H-L. (2007) The Origin of the Tongkemg-Changpo tin deposit, Dachang metal district, Guangxi, China: clues from fluid inclusions and He isotope systematics. Mineralium Deposita, v. 42(2): 613-626
  5. Mao J-W., Wang Y-T., Li H-M., Pirajno F, Zhang H-Q., Wang R-T. (2007) The relationship of mantle-derived fluid to gold metallogenesis in the Jiaodong peninsula: evidence from D-O-C-S isotope systematics. Ore Geology Reviews, v. 33: 361-381
  6. Xiao L, Wang C-Z, Pirajno F. (2007) Is the underthrust Indian lithosphere split beneath the Tibetan Plateau? International Geology Review, v. 48: 90-98
  7. Pirajno, F. Mao, J-W., Zhang, Z-C., Zhang Z-H., Chai, F-M. (2008) The association of mafic-ultramafic intrusions and A-type magmatism in the Tian Shan and Altay orogens, NW China: Implications for gedodynamic evolution and potential for the discovery of new ore deposits. Asian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 32(2-4): 165-183
  8. 0Zhang, Z., Mao, J-W., Du, A., Pirajno, F., Wang, Z., Chai, F-M., Zhang, Z., Yang, J. (2008) Re-Os dating of two Cu-Ni sulphide deposits in northern Xinjiang and its geological significance. Asian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 32(2-4): 204-217
  9. Mao, J-W. Pirajno, F.  Zhang, Z-H., Chai, F-M., Wu, H., Chen, S-P., Cheng, L-S., Yang, J-M., Zhang, C-Q. (2008) A review of Cu-Ni sulphide deposits in the Chinese Tianshan and Altay orogens. Asian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 32(2-4): 184-203
  10. Xiao, W., Pirajno, F. Seltmann R. (2008) Geodynamics and metallogeny of the Altaid orogen. Editorial. Asian Journal of Earth Sciences Special Issue, v. 32(2-4): 77-81
  11. Xiao L, He, Q., Pirajno, F., Ni, P-Z., Du, J-X., Wei, Q-R. (2008) Possible correlation between a mantle plume and the evolution of Paleo-Tethys Jinshajiang Ocean: Evidence from a volcanic rifted margin in the Xiaru-Tuoding area, Yunnan, SW China. Lithos 100: 112-126.
  12. Pirajno, F., Van Kranendonk, M. J., Xiao L. (2008) Hydrothermal processes in the Solar System: a review. Geological Science and Technology Information, China Academy Journal, v. 27(1): 1-12
  13. Xiao WJ, Pirajno, F., Seltmann, R. (2008) geodynamics and metallogeny of the Altaid orogen. Asian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 32: 77-81
  14. Chen Y-J, Pirajno, F., Qi J-P. (2008) The Shanggong gold deposit, Eastern Qinling Orogen, China: Isotope geochemistry and implications for ore genesis. Asian Journal of Earth Sciences, v.33: 252-266
  15. Xiao L., Qi, H., Pirajno, F., Ni, P. Z., Du, J. X., Wei, O. R. (2008) Possible correlation between a mantle plume and the evolution of the Paleo-Tethys ocean: evidence from a volcanic rifted margin in the Xiaru-Tuoding area, Yunnan, SW China. Lithos, v. 100: 112-126
  16. Mao J.W., Xie G.Q., Bierlein, F. P. ,Qü W.J, Du, A.D., Ye H.S., Pirajno F., Li H.M., Guo B.J., Li Y.F., Yang Z.Q. (2008) Tectonic implications from Re-Os Dating of Mesozoic Molybdenum Deposits in the East Qinling - Dabie Orogenic Belt. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 72: 4607-4626
  17. Pirajno, F., Bagas, L. (2008), A review of Australia's Proterozoic mineral systems and genetic models. Precambrian Research, v.  166: 54-80
  18. Chen Y. J., Pirajno, F., Li, N. Qi, J. P., Guo D. S., Lai, Y., Zhang, Y. H. (2009) Isotope systematics and fluid inclusion studies of the Qiyugou breccia pipe-hosted gold deposit, Qinling Orogen, Henan Province, China : implications for ore genesis. Ore Geology Reviews, v. 35: 245-261.
  19. Pirajno, F., Ernst, R. E., Borisenko, A.,  Fedoseev, G., Naumov, E. (2009) Intraplate magmatism in central Asia and China and associated metallogeny. Ore Geology Reviews, v. 35: 114-136.
  20. Morris, P. A., Pirajno, F. (2009) Chemical fingerprinting of multiple large-scale magmatic events in the Mesoproterozoic Bangemall Supergroup, Western Australia. Journal of Australian Earth Sciences, v. 56: 985-1001.
  21. Zhang Z. C., Mao, J. W., Chai, F. M., Yan, S. G., Chen, B. L., Pirajno, F. (2009) Geochemistry of the Permian Kalatongke mafic intrusions, Northern Xinjiangm NW China: Implications for the genesis of magmatic Ni-Cu sulfide deposits. Economic Geology, v. 104: 185-203.
  22. Han, Y-G. Zhang, S-H., Pirajno, F., Wang, Y., Zhang, Y-H. (2009) New 40Ar/39Ar age constraints on the deformation along the Machaoying fault zone: implications for Early Cambrian tectonism in the North China Craton. Gondwana Research, v. 16: 255-263
  23. Pirajno, F., Hocking, R. M., Reddy, S. M., Jones, J. A. (2009) A review of the geology and geodynamic evolution of the Palaeoproterozoic Earaheedy Basin, Western Australia. Earth-Science Reviews, v. 94: 39-77.
  24. Mao, J-W., Xie, G-Q., Pirajno, F., Ye, H-S., Wang, Y-B., Li, Y-F., Xiang, J-F., Zhao, H-J. (2010) Late Jurassic-early Cretaceous granitoid magmatism in eastern Qinling, central-eastern China: SHRIMP zircon U-Pb ages and tectonic implications. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 57: 51-78.
  25. 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.
  26. 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
  27. Zhang, Z-C, Mao, J-W., Wang, Y-B., Pirajno, F., Junlai Liu, Zhidan Zhao (2010) Geochemistry and geochronology of the volcanic rocks associated with the Dong’an adularia-sericite epithermal gold deposit in the Lesser Hing’an Range, Hellongjiang province. NE China: constraints on the metallogenesis. Ore Geology Reviews, v. 37: 158-174
  28. 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.
  29. 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
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. 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
  37. 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
  38. 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
  39. 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.
  40. 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
  41. 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
  42. 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
  43. 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
  44. 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
  45. 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
  46. 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
  47. 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
  48. Han YG, Zhang  SH, Pirajno F, Zhou XW, Zhao GC, Qü WJ, Liu SH, Zhang JM, Liang HB, Yang K (2013) U–Pb and Re–Os isotopic systematics and zircon Ce4+/Ce3+ ratios in the Shiyaogou Mo deposit in eastern Qinling, central China: Insights into the oxidation state of granitoids and Mo (Au) mineralization. Ore Geology Reviews, 55: 29-47
  49. Cheng, Y, Mao, JW, Chang ZS, Pirajno F (2013) The origin of the world class tin-polymetallic deposits in the Gejiu district, SW China: Constraints from metal zoning characteristics and 40Ar-39Ar geochronology. Ore Geology Reviews, 53:  50-62
  50. Zhang, J., Chen, YJ., Pirajno, F., Deng, J., Chen HY, Wang, CM, (2013) Geology, C-H-O-S-Pb isotope systematics and geochronology of the Yindongpo gold deposit, Tongbai Mountains, central China: implication for ore genesis. Ore Geology Reviews, 53: 343-356
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. Li N, Chen YJ, Santosh M, Pirajno F (2013) Compositional polarity of Triassic granitoids in the Qinling Orogen, China: Implication for termination of the northernmost paleo-Tethys. Gondwana Research, doi: 10.1016/j.gr.2013.09.017
  55. Zhong J, Chen YJ, Pirajno F, Chen J, Li J,  Qi JP, Li N (2014) Geology, geochronology, fluid inclusions and H-O isotope geochemistry of the Luoboling porphyry Cu-Mo deposit, Zijishan ore field, Fujan Province, China. Ore Geology Reviews,  57: 61-77
  56. 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
  57. Wu, HY,  Zhang, LC,, Pirajno F, Xiang P , Wan B, Chen Z, Zhang X (2014) The Jiguanshan porphyry Mo deposit in the Xilamulun metallogenic belt, northern margin of the North China Craton, U-Pb geochronology, isotope systematics, geochemistry and fluid inclusion studies: Implications for a genetic model. Ore Geology Reviews 56, 549 - 565
  58. Deng YF, Song XY, Chen LM, Zhou TF, Pirajno F, Yuan F, Xie W, Zhang DY (2014) Geochemistry of the Huangshandong Ni-Cu deposit in northwestern China: Implications for the formation of magmatic sulfide mineralization in orogenic belts. Ore Geology Reviews 56: 181 - 198
  59. Hou T, Zhang ZC, Pirajno F, Santosh M, Encarnacion J, Liu JL, Zhao ZD, Zhang LJ (2014) Geology, tectonic settings and iron ore metallogenesis associated with submarine volcanism in China: an overview. Ore Geology Reviews 57, 498-517
  60. 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