Deutsch Intern
Institut für Geographie und Geologie

Prof. Dr. Hartwig Frimmel

Department of Geodynamics and Geomaterial Research
Chair of Geodynamics and Geomaterial Research

Phone: +49 931 31-85420
Phone Secretary´s office: +49 931 31-85421
Fax: +49 931 31-87344
E-Mail: hartwig.frimmel@uni-wuerzburg.de 

Institute of Geography and Geology
Am Hubland
97074 Würzburg

Campus Southern Hubland
Geography building
Room 330

during winter semester 2017-2018 on Wednesday at 10.00 bis 12.00 am

  • Mineralogy
  • Geology
  • Mineral and ore deposits
  • Economic Geology
  • Petrology of metamorphic rocks
  • Geochemistry of hydrothermal systems

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 golduranium, 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 and similar Witwatersrand-type deposits elsewhere (Brazil, Canada, India, Australia).

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) and the DFG-supported priority programme onSouth Atlantic Margin Processes and Links with Onshore Evolution (SAMPLE).

Precambrian palaeoclimate

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.

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.

More recently, this work has been extended to southern India, where in a DFG-supported project, in cooperation with Indian partners, ultrahigh-temperature metamorphic rocks are being studied both in the "Grenvillian" Eastern Ghats Belt and the "Pan-African" Madurai Block.


PhD University of Vienna, Austria (Geology and Petrology) 1987


Since 2007
Professor, Chair: Geodynamics and Geomaterials Research, Institute of Geography and Geology, University of Würzburg

Professor of Mineralogy and Petrology, Head of Institute of Mineralogy, University of Würzburg

from lecturer to associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Vienna

Additional posts held:

Since 2013
Advisor to the European Commission´s "European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials"

Dean for student affairs, Faculty of Philosophy I, Univ. Würzburg

since 2012
Voting member of the Cryogenian subcommission and corresponding member of the Ediacaran subcommission of the international Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS)

Municipal council member of Leinach, Germany

Co-ordinator of the 1st SGA-SEG-UNESCO-IUGS Short Course on African Metallogeny in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

since 2011
Member of the Academy of Geosciences and Geotechnologies, Germany

since 2011
Founding member of the Bavarian Georesources Centre (BGC)

since 2011
Goodwill ambassador of the Geological Society of Africa (GSAf)

since 2010
Executive Council member of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA), Promotion Manager 2010-2011, Treasurer since 2012

since 2010
Member of the interdepartmental advisory board for the Bavarian government on mineral resource strategies

since 2007
Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town

Member of Organising Committee of the 9th Biennial SGA Meeting, Dublin

Chairman: Distinguished Lecturer Committee, Soc. Econ. Geol. (SEG)

President of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)

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)

Vice-president of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)

Member of the Ediacaran subcommission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS)

Co-leader of International Geoscience Programme IGCP 478, Organiser of international field workshop in South Africa/Namibia in 2003

Council member of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)

Council member of the Mineralogical Association of South Africa

Member of the Committee for South African Stratigraphy

Chairman of the Western Cape Branch of the Geological Society of South Africa

Project Leader of the Earth Sciences subprogramme within the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP)

Member of Organising Committee of the 11th International Conference of the Geological Society of Africa

Council member of the Geological Society of South Africa

SGA (Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits) Regional Vice-President for Africa

Guest-lecturer at the Department of Petrology and the Department of Geochemistry, University of Vienna

Total of 113 research articles in peer-reviewed international journals, 23 chapters in peer-reviewed books, 33 conference proceedings, 99 conference abstracts, 41 papers in local journals and unrefereed reports, 8 theses and major reports, and 5 excursion guidebooks.


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

  • Mineralium Deposita (since 1999)
  • Brazilian Journal of Geology (2012-2015)
  • The Open Geology Journal (since 2007, Chief Editor 2010)
  • Mineralogy and Petrology (1996-2002)
  • Africa Geoscience Review (1994/95, 1999-2006)
  • South African Journal of Geology (1996-98)
  • Alpine Geology, formely Mitt. Ges. Geol. Berg­baustud. Österr. (1984-85)

Co-editor of a book in the series Developments in Precambrian Geology (Elsevier, v.16)

Co-editor of a Special Issue of Gondwana Research

Co-editor of a Special Issue of Gondwana Research

Editor of a Special Issue of Mineralogy and Petrology on Witwatersrand and redeford

Editor of a Special Issue of Journal of African Earth Sciences

Guest-editor of a Special Issue of the South African Journal of Geology

Reviewer for 28 leading international professional journals (incl. Nature, Science) and 13 national research agencies.

Chief supervisor of 8 BSc, 18 BSc Honours, 21 MSc and Diploma, 11 PhD students, and co-supervisor of 6 PhD students.