Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Martin Smith is Professor of Geochemistry, a geologist, geochemist and mineralogist, and is the Associate Dean for Research and Enterpise in the School of Applied Sciences. He has 25 years experience in geochemistry applied to problems in mineral deposit geology, hydrogeology and environmental mineralogy, and has been a Chartered Geologist with the Geological Society of London since 2012.

Research interests

My research interests can broadly be classified under the heading of water-rock interaction. This covers the chemical and physical interaction of fluids with earth materials from high temperature igneous systems to environment mineralogy and fluid chemistry. Current research interests include the genesis of rare earth element and iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) deposits, the influence of unsaturated zone flow on groundwater chemistry, particularly with respect to diffuse urban pollution, and the redox mineralogy of marine steel corrosion. The latter is an interdisciplinary project with civil engineering and microbiology colleagues.

In the past I have worked on the genesis of iron oxide-copper-gold mineral deposit systems in Sweden and Kazakhstan, including their geochronology, mineralogy and fluid chemistry, all with the aim of producing new and better constrained genetic models. I have also worked on a range of other mineralising systems including shear zone-hosted gold, karst-hosted bauxite and granite related Sn-W mineralisation.

Approach to teaching

The foundation of all geology and earth sciences is field and laboratory observation, and I try to ensure all my teaching is firmly grounded in these strongly practical skills. I lead the level five (year two) field course to Almeria, Spain with BSc Geology and BSc Physical Geography and Geology students, where students are guided through field observation and data collection in a range of environments before spending two days independently constructing a field map and interpreting the geological evolution of an area.

I am also passionate about geological research and communicating this to students – I teach areas such as planetary geology and global earth processes where I introduce students to some of the latest ideas in geology and encourage them to carry out their own research using the scientific literature. With all my teaching the best result for the students are when they get fully involved and engage with activities, such as locating a historic landfill site using geophysical techniques on a cold November morning!

Supervisory Interests

PhD projects in geochemistry and mineralogy specifically applied to: ore deposit genesis and mineral exploration, critical metals and the environmental impacts of mining; Hydrogeology and the behaviour of nutrient and heavy metals (rural and urban environments); environmental controls on material corrosion.

I contribute to the Centre for Earth Observation Science (in terms of mineral resources, petrology and environmental geochemistry) and the Centre for Aquatic Environments (in terms of hydrogeology and hydrochemistry) and am happy to supervise projects in both these areas as part of the MRes Geosciences and Mres Aquatic Environments. Specific projects at present could include:

Synthesis and characterisation of REE-bearing clays.

Breakdown of sulphide minerals in the environment.

Geology and genesis of REE and other mineral deposits.

Weathering processes in REE mineralised carbonatites.

Microbial corrosion of steel in marine environments.

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy studies of halogen-bearing silicates.

Unsaturated zone flow processes and groundwater chemistry.

Infiltration water quality from sustainable drainage systems.



Education/Academic qualification

PhD, The geochemistry of water-rock interaction in progressively focussed hydrothermal flow., University of Leeds

Award Date: 1 Jul 1995

Bachelor, Geology, University of Liverpool

Award Date: 1 Jul 1991

External positions

Associate Scientist, The Natural History Museum, London

2001 → …


  • QE Geology
  • Geochemistry
  • Mineralogy
  • Ore Genesis
  • Hydrogeology
  • QD Chemistry
  • Corrosion


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