Professor Martin Menzies

Personal profile

How do you get to this point in life ?

It is hard not to like rocks & landscape if you grew up surrounded by the Grampian highlands of Scotland !  Aberdeen was the natural uni choice for my BSc degree and thanks to departmental links with the Ontario Geological Survey I worked for my BSc thesis on the mineralized Nipissing Diabases of Northern Ontario with a parallel study of various insects : black, deer and moose flies.  Totally hooked on ultramafic rocks my PhD was part of a team effort on the Othris ophiolite (1975 Cambridge) where I had to unravel the ultramafic rocks in rural Greece (Makrirrakhi) amid temperatures that reached 40 degrees.  Post PhD in 1974 a Lindemann research fellowship (ESU) supported research at the Universities of California (UC) and NASA-JSC Houston.  Post-doctoral research (UCD & UCSB) focussed on the geochemistry of Sierran and Franciscan seafloor/arc ophiolites and interest in ultramafic rocks took me to the NASA-Johnson Space Centre Houston (to work with Joyce Brannon, Randy Korotev and Doug Blanchard) to investigate the trace element chemistry of high pressure minerals.  National Science Foundation funding at the Space Centre University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (with Rama Murthy) centered on the application of Nd-Sr isotopes to Archaean garnet peridotites from the Kaapvaal craton and spinel peridotites from the Basin and Range, Arizona USA.  In 1982 I returned to the UK (Open University) to a NERC supported research program on mantle fluid processes beneath continental regions (with Chris Hawkesworth, Tony Erlank). Parallel volcanological research involved Cenozoic to recent volcanism in the western USA (Yellowstone-Snake River Plain-Basin and Range/Sierran Province) with Bill Leeman (Rice Univ). 

The post-doctoral life cannot continue and RHBNC/RHUL provided my “first real job”.  Apart from the rigours of teaching I pursued research in volcanology and mantle chemistry. Initially NERC funding supported research on the mantle beneath NW Scotland and France/Italy; and volcanology projects allowed for time on the calc-alkaline volcanoes of the Aeolian islands (with Mauro Rosi), potassic volcanoes in Bali & Java Indonesia (with the SEARG/RHUL). Thanks to funding for PDRAs (Weiming Fan, Yigang Xu) and PhDs (Hongfu Zhang) from the Royal Society & the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the North China craton became a research study area and over the last twenty years research links between CAS institutes in Guangzhou (Prof Xu) and Beijing (Prof Zhang) are well established culminating in an international North China Craton workshop in 2011 celebrating major NNSFC funding on the NCC.  A British Council pump-priming initiative led to NERC/Royal Society support and a ten year study of continental break-up on the margins of the Red Sea in Yemen & later in Ethiopia (with Joel Baker, Ingrid Ukstins-Peate & colleagues).  As part of that project a pilot study of volcanic ash dispersal from a Miocene caldera in Arabia laid the foundations for a five year NERC consortium project in 2008-2013 involving tephro-chronology & laser-ablation analysis. Chemical fingerprint of European volcanic ash from volcanoes in Iceland and the Azores (in the west) to Turkey and Greece (in the east) is used to "date" tephra deposits in marine cores, lake cores and archaeological sites as part of a multi-university, multi-department project. 

My editorial experience includes several graduate textbooks on "Mantle Metasomatism" (Academic Press), "Continental Mantle" (Oxford University Press) and "Volcanic Rifted Margins (Geological Society of America). Editorial tasks have included associate editor for the Journal of the Geochemical Society since 1995 (Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta) & acting as guest Editor for OUP & Elsevier on eight separate occasions. Conference organisation includes a Lithosphere Meeting at RHUL (1987),  a Geological Society of America Penrose conference at RHUL (2000) and the Orogenic Lherzolite Conference series (1990-). In 2011 the ICCFD craton meeting in Beijing resulted in two special volumes of Lithos and Gondwana Research in 2012.

Research interests


CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORSHIP (CAS) awarded to Martin (2014/2015) supports a new joint research venture between Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry (GIG)-CAS and RHUL-ES. In 2013 Prof Xu Yigang (GIG-CAS) was appointed as a Visiting Professor at RHUL-ES and in 2014 several CAS funded PhD students will undertake targeted research projects on the geology of China. This marks the culmination of 25 years of collaborative research funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)-Royal Society which underpinned pioneering research on the North China Craton (NCC) in the 1990s. More recent research has focussed on the NCC with an emphasis on integrating geology, geophysics and geochemistry in solving issues of lithospheric evolution. Research on the NCC has led to several joint international conferences in Guangzhou (IAVCEI 2005) and Beijing (2006, ICCFD 2011). Chinese collaborators : Profs Xu YiGang (GIG-CAS, Guangzhou), Zhang HongFu (CAS, Xi'an & IGG-CAS, Beijing) and Weiming Fan (CAS HQ Beijing). 

NERC (TEPHRA) CONSORTIUM is a 5 year tephrochronology project (2008-2013) involving the study of volcanic ash deposited during the last 100,000 years across Europe (Iceland, Azores, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey). Volcanic deposits found on the flanks of explosive volcanoes are the basis for a "proximal" chemical database which can be used to unravel the source of "distal" volcanic ash in marine cores, terrestrial & archaeological sites. The project involves a network of European collaborators with associated PhD projects on the Aeolian islands-Marsili Basin (Paul Albert), Mediterranean marine cores (Chris Satow), European lacustrine cores (Mark Hardiman), Colli Albani Rome (Jo Cross) and Vulcano (Anna Todman). European collaborators : Iceland-Azores (Thordarson, Edinburgh; Gertisser, Keele); Colli Albani-Campi Flegrei-Vesuvius-Ischia-Aeolians-Etna-Pantelleria (Rosi, Zanchetta, Sulpizio; Univ Pisa; Giordano, Univ Rome; Orsi & Civetta, INGV, Naples, Coltelli, INGV, Catania, DeRosa, Cozensa) Acigöl-Golçuk-Erciyes Dag-Nemrut (Aydar, Univ. Ankara) Santorini-Kos-Nisyros (Kinvig/ Gottsman/ Blundy, Bristol)  

OROGENIC LHERZOLITE CONFERENCE In 1987 a RHUL-hosted conference (Oceanic and Continental Lithosphere : similarities & differences) laid the foundations for a conference series

In collaboration with scientists in many host countries around the world Jean-Louis Bodinier (Montpellier) & Martin Menzies were part of the scientific/organising committees for meetings in Montpellier, France 1990), Granada, Spain (1995), Pavia Italy (1999), Samani, Japan (2002), Shasta California (2008) and Marrakech, Morocco in 2014. A vital aspect of all these meetings is the opportunity to meet with like-minded scientists who share a passion for mantle rocks (ca. 100-120 participants). Most importantly meetings are deliberately planned to allow easy access to nearby exposures of mantle rocks. To date, participants have visited field sites in France (Lherz); Italy (Baldissero, Balmuccia, Erro Tobio, Finero, Lanzo and Liguria); Spain (Ronda); Morocco (Beni Bousera); Hokkaido (Horoman) and California-Oregon (Trinity & Josephine). Peer-reviewed papers from all conferences are published in Journal of Petrology (and in 1996 in Chemical Geology). The links to the foreword/preface and table of contents are :

1st 1991


3rd 2001

4th 2004

5th 2010 

6th 2014 Morocco (Special Volume 2015)

7th 2017 Beijing (next meeting)  


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