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1990 …2022

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Research interests

Professor Turner obtained his PhD from the University of Adelaide in 1992 and is internationally recognised as a geochemist. His research primarily concerns the processes of partial melting and magma formation within the Earth. He approaches this through the analysis of elemental concentrations and isotope ratios in silicate rocks and minerals. His particular strength lies in having worked on a very broad range of discipline areas. These include: (1) post-orogenic magma petrogenesis that identified implications for convective removal of over-thickened lithosphere and attendant consequences for monsoonal climate change; (2) sediment provenance and crustal growth with evidence for a Hadean onset of subduction; (3) continental flood basalts and their implications for how eruption rates link to potential mantle reservoirs and continental dynamics; (4) the genesis of mid-ocean ridge basalts (on- and off-axis) and ocean island basalts and their implications for long-term, deep-level mantle recycling; (5) island arc lavas, their role in volcanic hazards, continental growth and the importance of subducted crust.


For the last 2 decades, his research has concentrated on the unique potential of the application of short-lived, Uranium-series isotopes to constraining the time scales of the largely magmatic processes visited above, specifically magma formation, transport and differentiation. An additional aspect has been research into low-temperature environmental processes such as the rates of soil production and erosion as well as uranium ore exploration. This approach has been at the forefront of a revolution in our understanding of the physical processes of magma petrogenesis. The results show that mantle-derived magmas are formed at low porosity, often in multi-mineralogic lithologies, and ascend rapidly to the surface via channelled flow where they differentiate in less than millennia prior to volcanic eruption. The key outcome of much of this research is the current ambition to use in situ, high-pressure synchrotron fluorescence of elements like U or Nb to image both the mechanisms and chemical fractionation of incipient melt formation under conditions where deformation, oxygen fugacity and volatile content vary.


Professor Turner’s research has been published in over 220 papers that have been cited more than 15,500 times (h-index of 63 in Google Scholar, 59 in Scopus). This includes 14 papers in Nature and Science. He has held a Royal Society University Research fellowship in the UK and both a Federation Fellowship and Australian Research Council Professorial Fellowship in Australia. He has been awarded the Lyell Fund and been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of Australia. He was a director of the Geochemical Society for 5 years and has been an editor for Journal of Petrology for 10 years. He has attracted grants totalling £762k in the UK, $630k in New Zealand and $5M in Australia. He received a Humboldt Award in 2013 pursuing collaborative research projects in Bristol, Kiel, Erlangen, Gottingen and Lyon. He was made Gauss Professor by the University of Gottingen in 2017.


Professor Turner’s leadership and organisational skills include the establishment of international research groups and laboratories and the training top-level researchers both at the University of Bristol in the UK and at Macquarie University in Australia. These have involved organisation and management of numerous technicians and postdocs as well as administration of associated grants for the team and supervision of PhD students (16). Many of these now hold academic positions is leading institutions around the world. He initiated the ‘State of the Arc’ conference series, has run a Penrose meeting in the Azores and won the bid for, and chaired, the 16th annual Goldschmidt conference held in Melbourne in 2006. He currently convenes and teaches several undergraduate courses at Macquarie University, including final year geochemistry and a neo-tectonics field trip to New Zealand.


Professor Turner has served as Associate Dean of Research for the Faculty of Science at Macquarie University and he has served on the executive for the Geological Society of Australia and the NCRIS-funded AuScope II steering committee promoting synchrotron science and championing the cause for a dedicated Earth Science beam-line at the Australian Synchrotron. He is director of research in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Macquarie University and a member of the faculty research committee. He is currently working to spur governmental momentum for the use of in situ experimental methods in the Earth Sciences using synchrotron light and neutron beams at ANSTO.


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