Prof. Dr. Hartwig Frimmel
Lehrstuhl Geodynamik und Geomaterialforschung
Petrologie metamorpher Gesteine
Geochemie von Hydrothermalsystemen
Geographiegebäude (ehemaliges Mineralogiegebäude)
Telefon: (0931) 31 85420
PC-Fax: (0931) 31 87344
Telefon: (0931) 31 85421 (Sekretariat)
Institut für Geographie und Geologie
Economic geological analyses of the future availability of mineral resources
Production cycles of non‐renewable georesources are being modeled – both into the future and the past - and the total mineable amount of a given georesource and the prediction of future availability of such resources are being approximated on a regional and global scale. This research is aimed at aiding decision makers with regard to formulating policies on securing the future supply of critical georesources.
Models refer to both likely future production cycles as well as historic production.
Concrete examples include gold, uranium, copper, crude oil, and mercury.
Genesis of gold deposits
Several projects on the genesis of the world’s largest accumulation of gold in the Mesoarchaean Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa
In spite of the enormous economic significance of the Witwatersrand gold, its genesis has remained for more than a century "the most disputed issue in the history of economic geology". Our results made a significant contribution to the on-going debate on the origin of the Witwatersrand gold. Although in its present form most of the gold appears late in the paragenetic sequence and thus to be the product of hydrothermal precipitation, overwhelming evidence exists for an autochthonous, detrital source of the gold within the conglomeratic metasedimentary host rocks. Thus a modified palaeoplacer model is preferred to explain the available data/observations on this real giant amongst gold districts.
In a follow-up study, the source of the huge amounts of detrital gold particles in the Witwatersrand Basin is being evaluated. To this effect the pre-Witwatersrand basement rocks are being studied. First results point to a sulphidic IOCG-style low-grade gold enrichment in some of these rocks, formed during a major gold event at about 3 billion years, when the dominant crust-forming regime changed from a plume-driven to plate-tectonically driven Earth.
In a further project, the distribution of gold in the Earth’s crust has been evaluated with the aim of pinpointing the first-order controls on the concentration of gold into ore bodies within the continental crust.
Sediment-hosted base metal deposits
Study of the genesis, fluid characteristics and tectonic as well as palaeoclimatic setting of a variety of sediment hosted Cu-, Pb-, and/or Zn-sulphide deposits. Examples include the following ore districts: Otavi Mountainland, northern Namibia, Rosh Pinah, southern Namibia, and Bushmanland, northern Namaqualand, South Africa
Geodynamic evolution of southwestern Gondwana
Correlation of Pan-African orogenic belts in southwestern and central Africa with their counterparts in South America gives insights into the birth of a supercontinent (Gondwana) and the relationship between tectonics, palaeoclimate, ocean water chemistry, evolution of life and metallogeny. Special emphasis has been on the Gariep and Saldania Belts in southern Africa and the Congo Belt in central Africa. This work forms part of two International Geoscience Programmes (IGCP 478 and 512).
Using sedimentary geochemistry and style of mineralization as proxies, the evolution of the atmosphere and hydrosphere are being reconstructed. Special focus of this research is on the Archaean, the time before the big oxygenation of the atmosphere, and on the Neoproterozoic to Early Cambrian, when our planet experienced some extreme climate changes. Study targets include Archaean sedimentary successions, such as those in the Witwatersrand Basin, Palaeoproterozoic sedimentary successions in Guyana, Neoproterozoic sequences in the former West-Gondwana, and black shale deposits on the Yangtze Platform in South China.
High-grade metamorphic terranes in Antarctica
Meso- to Neoproterozoic tectonic belts exposed in isolated nunataks on the periphery of the huge East Antarctic ice mass play a pivotal role in the palaeogeographic reconstruction of an inferred supercontinent that existed prior to Gondwana, commonly referred to as Rodinia or Palaeopangaea. As part of the South African National Antarctic Programme, we studied the tectono-thermal evolution recorded by one of these belts, which is closest to Africa, i.e. the Maud Belt in Western and Central Dronning Maud Land.
More recently, similar studies have been conducted as part of the DFG-supported priority programme on Antarctic research on rocks from the Shackleton Range. The results revealed the presence of three distinct terranes that became juxtaposed during multi-stage Pan-African tectonothermal events in the course of Gondwana amalgamation. Our single zircon data also gave new insights into the behavior of Hf isotopes in zircon during metamorphism.
PhD University of Vienna, Austria (Geology and Petrology) 1987
2007- Professor, Chair: Geodynamics and Geomaterials Research, Institute of Geography and Geology, University of Würzburg
2004-2007 Professor of Mineralogy and Petrology, Head of Institute of Mineralogy, University of Würzburg
1997-2004 Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town
1989-2004 Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town
1987-1989 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Vienna
Additional posts held:
2007- Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town
2007 Member of Organising Committee of the 9th Biennial SGA Meeting, Dublin
2007 Chairman: Distinguished Lecturer Committee, Soc. Econ. Geol. (SEG)
2006-2007 President of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)
2006- Guest Professor, University of Science and Technology, Hefei, China
2004- 2007 South African representative on the Geoscience Scientific Standing Committee of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)
2004-2005 Vice-president of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)
2004- Member of the Ediacaran subcommission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS)
2003-2007 Co-leader of International Geoscience Programme IGCP 478, Organiser of international field workshop in South Africa/Namibia in 2003
2002-2005 Council member of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)
2000-2004 Council member of the Mineralogical Association of South Africa
2000- Member of the Committee for South African Stratigraphy
1999-2004 Chairman of the Western Cape Branch of the Geological Society of South Africa
1998-2005 Project Leader of the Earth Sciences subprogramme within the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP)
1999 Member of Organising Committee of the 11th International Conference of the Geological Society of Africa
1998-2003 Council member of the Geological Society of South Africa
1995-2001 SGA (Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits) Regional Vice-President for Africa
1994-1995 Guest-lecturer at the Department of Petrology and the Department of Geochemistry, University of Vienna
Membership of editorial boards of professional journals
Mineralium Deposita (since 1999)
The Open Geology Journal (since 2007, Chief Editor 2010)
Mineralogy and Petrology (1996-2002)
Africa Geoscience Review (1994/95, since 1999)
South African Journal of Geology (1996-98)
Mitt. Ges. Geol. Bergbaustud. Österr. (1984-85)
Guest-editor for international professional journals
2009 Co-editor of a book in the series Developments in Precambrian Geology
2008 Co-editor of a Special Issue of Gondwana Research
2004 Co-editor of a Special Issue of Gondwana Research
1999 Editor of a Special Issue of Mineralogy and Petrology on Witwatersrand and
1999 Editor of a Special Issue of Journal of African Earth Sciences
1995 Guest-editor of a Special Issue of the South African Journal of Geology
Reviewer for 26 leading international professional journals (incl. Nature, Science) and national research agencies from 9 countries.
2003 - 2008 National Research Foundation (South Africa) - B1 rating ("Researchers who enjoy considerable international recognition by their peers for the high quality of their recent research outputs and who are considered by some peers as leading international scholars in their field")
2000-2003 University of Cape Town Merit Award
1998-2002 National Research Foundation (South Africa) - B2 rating
Since 1998 Listed in Marquis'Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in Science and Engineering
1995 South Africa's Foundation for Research Development President's Award
1991 SGA Daum Prize
Total of 19 chapters in books, 79 research articles in peer-reviewed international journals, 20 conference proceedings, 74 conference abstracts, 38 papers in local journals and unrefereed reports, 8 theses and major reports, and 5 excursion guidebooks.
Chief supervisor of 20 BSc Honours, 14 MSc and Diploma, 6 PhD students, and co-supervisor of 3 PhD students.