I started doing Geology many years ago because it gave me more free time at school. Each year since then it has taken more and more of my time. I still enjoy it, and hope I impart that enjoyment to others. I am currently semi-retired and am paid for the equivalent of two days a week.
My research career started with the discovery of an ophiolite associated with copper mining at Sulitjelma in Arctic Norway while completing a PhD at UCL in the 1970s. For the next twenty years I continued to undertake regional-scale studies in northern Scandinavia, but also Western Ireland and Saudi Arabia, with an emphasis on the interplay between tectonics and metamorphism. In the late 1990s my research shifted to a much smaller scale when Liverpool got its first SEM-based electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) system. Since then, I have mainly worked on the microstructure of sulphide minerals with emphasis on pyrite. These studies have looked mainly at the effects of deformation and metamorphism, but also at self-organisation processes in sulphide mineral framboids, colloforms and spherules. Key findings include demonstrating the utility of pyrite and sphalerite as tape-recorders of geological events, and a new deformation mechanisms map for pyrite. I have also published on garnet microstructure.
For five years in the 2010s I was involved in two Liverpool-based projects investigating geopolymer cement and concrete production from waste products. My role was to use SEM techniques to investigate microstructure and microchemistry of the geopolymer products.
Current geological research is in two areas. I am using pyrite microstructure in conjunction with cathode-luminescence study of associated calcite veins to help constrain and understand fault history in the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD). I am also investigating the interplay between pyrite microstructure and trace-element microchemistry in some African orogenic-gold deposits to understand processes of polyphase mineral formation, polyphase fluid-influx and polyphase deformation in crustal-scale gold-bearing faults.
In parallel with my geological research, I have been involved in major pedagogical developments. In the 1990s and 2000s I helped develop computer-based learning materials for the Manchester-based UKESCC project, headed the national TRIADS computer-based assessment project at Liverpool, and then co-led (with Ulster University) a national project looking at the role of the affective domain in residential fieldwork. I have also developed open-educational resources, and was a consultant on the elearningplace project to deliver education through cable set-top boxes.