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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
Google Scholar: J. M. Palin
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.
Matt Sagar (2008 BSc Hons, 2014 PhD) 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):


Michelle Fitzgerald: Lithic fragment populations in a cluster of closely spaced volcanoes in central Hopi Buttes Volcanic Field, Navajo Nation, Arizona (PhD, in progress)


Lucy David: Geochemical characterization and mobilization of arsenic and heavy metals of surface waters associated with Nenthorn historic gold mine, Otago, New Zealand (MSc, 2021)

Harry Davies*: Expanding the target: Trace elements in sulphides as a vector to mesothermal gold mineralisation (MSc, 2021)

Menuka Anandani: Natural aggregate resource of Fiji Islands-characteristics that affect the composition, quality, and possible uses (MSc, 2019)

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

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

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)

Thomas Czertzowicz: The Anita Peridotite: A Study of Subcontinental Lithospheric Mantle Emplaced Within the Anita Shear Zone, NW Fiordland (PhD, 2016)

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)

James Galloway: Igneous petrogenesis of plutonic rock at Oraka Point, Southland (MSc, 2016)

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)

Jelte Keeman*: Igneous clasts in conglomerates of the Murihiku Terrane: Petrology, geochemistry and zircon geochronology (MSc, 2014)

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

Gray MacDougall*: Trace elements in sulphides in and around the Macaes gold deposit of Otago (PGDipSci, 2019)

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

Nichole Moerhuis: Deposition, Metamorphism and Mineralization of the Onekaka Schist in northwest Nelson (MSc, 2015)

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); Petrology, structure and thermochronology of the Glenroy Complex, South Island (PhD, 2014)

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)

Katrin Wellnitz: Cenozoic carbonate alteration zones in the Haast Schist and a potential link between lamprophyres and gold  (PhD, 2017)

GEOL 252 (Field Studies & New Zealand Geology) students examine Permian pillow breccia of the Brook Street Terrane at Howell Point, Southland.
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 262 Geochemistry (Semester 2, even years)

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


GEOL 362 Geochemistry (Semester 2, even years)

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


GEOL 462 Advanced Topics in Geochemistry

Recommended Reading

A short history of nearly everything bookcover

Radioactive Transformations bookcover

Current chart and data for atmospheric CO2


Tulloch, A. J., Mortimer, N., Ireland, T. R., Waight, T. E., Maas, R., Palin, J. M., … Turnbull, R. E. (2019). Reconnaissance basement geology and tectonics of South Zealandia. Tectonics, 38, 516-551. doi: 10.1029/2018TC005116

Wellnitz, A. K., Scott, J. M., Martin, C. E., Palin, J. M., Stirling, C. H., Reid, M. R., … Craw, D. (2019). Carbonation reactions and coupled element and isotope redistribution during shallow crustal gold mineralisation, New Zealand. Mineralium Deposita, 54, 743-760. doi: 10.1007/s00126-018-0838-9

Cooper, A. F., & Palin, J. M. (2018). Two-sided accretion and polyphase metamorphism in the Haast Schist belt, New Zealand: Constraints from detrital zircon geochronology. GSA Bulletin, 130(9-10), 1501-1518. doi: 10.1130/b31826.1

Dalton, H. B., Scott, J. M., Liu, J., Waight, T. E., Pearson, D. G., Brenna, M., … Palin, J. M. (2017). Diffusion-zoned pyroxenes in an isotopically heterogeneous mantle lithosphere beneath the Dunedin Volcanic Group, New Zealand, and their implications for intraplate alkaline magma sources. Lithosphere, 9(3), 463-475. doi: 10.1130/L631.1

Re, G., Palin, J. M., White, J. D. L., & Parolari, M. (2017). Unravelling the magmatic system beneath a monogenetic volcanic complex (Jagged Rocks complex, Hopi Buttes, AZ, USA). Contributions to Mineralogy & Petrology, 172(11-12), 94. doi: 10.1007/s00410-017-1410-9

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