Department of Geology



CO2 Now

Dr J. Michael Palin

Mike Palin


BA (California State University, Fullerton)
MS (New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology)
PhD (Yale University)

Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology
Igneous Petrology
Hydrothermal Mineral Deposits


Office - Geology 1S9

Tel 64 3 479 9083

Fax:  64 3 479 7527


Earth’s magmatic systems provide our society with beneficial mineral resources, yet confront us with potentially deadly hazards.  To understand these diverse and fascinating systems, we need to know how and where magma is generated, how it moves through the crust, and why it solidifies at depth or erupts at the surface – sometimes as unimaginably large supervolcanoes.  Answering such questions entails geologic detective work because the action takes place in the subsurface, well beyond the realm of our direct experience.  The work is not easy - it takes keen observers with imagination tempered by knowledge of chemistry and physics.  Important constraints on the conditions and timing of magma formation, transport, and solidification are preserved in the compositions of minerals and glass in igneous rocks.  Deciphering these clues is an essential first step in the development of accurate physical-chemical models of magmatic systems that can be used in hazard assessment, mineral exploration, and tectonic reconstruction. 

Matt Sagar (2008 BSc Hons) documents a Cretaceous pegmatite/aplite dike that cuts mylonite in lower plate of Paparoa Core Complex, Westland.  The ages of such dikes provide important constraints on the timing of deformation.

Research Students (*=principal supervisor):


Jelte Keeman*: Igneous clasts in conglomerates of the Murihiku Terrane: Petrology, geochemistry and zircon geochronology (MSc)

Nichole Moerhuis: P-T conditions and timing of metamorphism in lower Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, northwest Nelson (MSc)

Thomas Czertzowicz: Ultramafics in the Anita Shear Zone, northwest Fiordland (PhD)

Matt Sagar*: Petrology, structure and thermochronology of the Glenroy Complex, South Island (PhD)

Katrin Wellnitz: Origin of carbonate alteration in the Otago Schist (PhD)


Damien Borcovsky*: Petrology of the Wainui shear zone, NW Nelson (BSc Hons, 2004)

Andreas Beinlich: Geology of Pigroot Creek: Insight into petrology and thermochronology of the deep crust beneath Otago, New Zealand (PGDipSci, 2006)

Kirstin Brown*: Provenance and metamorphism of conglomerates in the Otago Schist (BSc Hons, 2010)

Katherine Cambridge: Petrology and geochemistry of metabasites in tectonostratigraphic terranes of the Otago Schist (BSc Hons, 2008)

Alice Collins: Petrology and geochemistry of carbonatite-associated alteration in the Otago Schist (BSc Hons, 2010)

Anthony Cross*: Dunite of the Greenhills Complex, Southland: petrology, geochemistry and potential for carbon sequestration (MSc, 2011)

Ben Eggers*: Petrology of the Separation Point Batholith, NW Nelson (BSc Hons, 2004)

Tim Elliot: Petrology and thermobarometry of high grade gneisses on Resolution Island, Fiordland (PGDipsSci, 2009)

Malcolm Gollan*: Presqu'lle Bréauté, southwest Fiordland: Plutonism, regional setting and igneous-hosted mineralization (MSc, 2006)

Alice Hodgkinson: Mantle xenoliths and metasomatism at Kattothryst, North Otago (BSc Hons, 2012)

Dushan Jugum: Tectono-magmatic evolution of the Dun Mountain Ophiolite Belt (PhD, 2009)

Charlotte King*: Titanium-in-quartz geothermometry of the Alpine and Otago schists (BSc Hons, 2008)

Kate McKercher: Titanium-in-quartz geothermometry: tracing siliciclastic sediment across the South Island (MSc, 2012)

Sandra Panienka*: The origin of mafic enclaves in the granitoids at Kawakaputa Point, New Zealand (PGDipSci, 2003)

Charles Rands*: Granite-associated molybdenum mineralisation in northwest Nelson, New Zealand: Geology, geochronology, geochemistry, and tectonic setting (MSc, 2007)

Ewen Rodway*: Ti-in-quartz geothermometry and sediment provenance in the western Southland basins (MSc, 2012)

Matt Sagar*: Petrology, structure and geochronology of felsic dykes in the Paparoa Metamorphic Core Complex, Westland (BSc Hons, 2008)

James Scott: Petrology, structure and tectonic evolution of the Lake Manapouri region, eastern Fiordland (PhD, 2008)

Chloe Simpson*: Early Paleozoic rocks of southwest Fiordland: Petrology, geochemistry and detrital zircon geochronology (MSc, 2006)

Selected Publications (*=student author):

Magmatic systems

*Scott JM, Palin, JM, Cooper, AF, Sagar, MW, Allibone, AH, and Tulloch, AJ 2011. From richer to poorer: zircon inheritance in Pomona Island Granite, New Zealand: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 161: 667-681. doi: 10.1007/s00410-010-0556-5

Bolhar, R, Weaver, SD, Palin, JM, Cole, JW, and Paterson, LA 2008. Systematics of zircon crystallisation in the Cretaceous Separation Point Suite, New Zealand, using U-Pb isotopes, REE and Ti geothermometry: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 156: 133-160. doi: 10.1007/s00410-007-0278-5

Palin, JM 2005. Zircon chronochemistry of the Mesa Falls Tuff (Yellowstone, USA): progressive remelting of a felsic source by underplated mafic magma: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 69(10S): A10. 

Palin, JM, Price, RC, and Reay, A 2003. Igneous rocks of the Southland coast and eastern Fiordland: Geological Society of New Zealand Annual Conference, 2003, Fieldtrip Guidebook, Miscellaneous Publication 116B: FT7-1-FT7-31.

Tectonothermal evolution of Zealandia

Palin, JM, *King, CL, *Wilson, A, and Martin, CE, 2011. Ti-in-quartz thermometry of siliciclastic metasedimentary rocks of the Otago Schist, New Zealand: Mineralogical Magazine, 75 (3): 1589.

*Sagar, MW and Palin, JM (2011) Emplacement, metamorphism, deformation and affiliation of mid-Cretaceous orthogneiss from the Paparoa Metamorphic Core Complex lower-plate, Charleston, New Zealand: New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 54: 273-289. doi:10.1080/00288306.2011.562904

*Scott, JM, Palin, JM, Cooper, AF, *Fagerang, A, and *King, RP 2009. Polymetamorphism, zircon growth and retention of early assemblages through the dynamic evolution of a continental arc in Fiordland, New Zealand: Journal of Metamorphic Geology 27: 281-294. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1314.2009.00817.x

Mortimer, N, Dunlap, WJ, Palin, JM, Herzer, RH, Hauff, F, and Clark, M 2008. Ultra-fast early Miocene exhumation of Cavalli Seamount, Northland Plateau, Southwest Pacific Ocean: New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 51: 29-42. doi: 10.1080/00288300809509848 

Hydrothermal mineralisation

Palin, JM, *Mackie, C, and Craw, D 2009. Au and Sb in pyrite and arsenopyrite: Implications for ore genesis and exploration in the Otago Schist: Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy New Zealand Branch 42th Annual Conference.

*Ryland, CB, Palin, JM, and Cooper, AF 2008. Ti-in-quartz geothermometry: A new tool for minerals exploration: Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy New Zealand Branch 41th Annual Conference.

*Rands, CD, Palin, JM, Faure, K and Harris, C 2005. Molybdenum-bearing plutons of NW Nelson: their geology, mineralization and tectonic setting: New Zealand Minerals Conference 2005.

*Ballard, JR, Palin, JM, and Campbell, IH 2002. Relative oxidation states of magmas inferred from Ce(IV)/Ce(III) in zircon: application to porphyry copper deposits of northern Chile: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 144: 347-364. doi: 10.1007/s00410-002-0402-5


GEOL 252 (Field Studies & New Zealand Geology) students examine Permian pillow breccia of the Brook Street Terrane at Howell Point, Southland.


Docendo discimus - We learn by teaching


EAOS 111 Earth & Ocean Science (Semester 1)

GEOL 112 Dynamic Earth: A New Zealand Perspective (Semester 2)


GEOL 252 Field Studies & New Zealand Geology (Semester 1)

GEOL 264 Igneous Petrology & Mineralisation (Semester 2, even years)


GEOL 364 Igneous Petrology & Mineralisation (Semester 2, even years)


GEOL 422 Volcanology, Petrology & Geochemistry

GEOL 424: Applied Geochemistry

GEOL 495 Thesis Preparation

Contact for

400-level course advising.

Recommended Reading

Bill Bryson Simon Winchester
Fixing Climate Rare Earth
John Cambell Richard Dawkins
Ernest Rutherford  

Current chart and data for atmospheric CO2