Lucy McGee

Dr Lucy McGee

Internal Grant Funded Researcher (B)

School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

The spectacular Crater Rayhuen in Southern Chile - a Holocene volcanic explosion crater infilled with lavas from the nearby Casablanca volcano


I am a high temperature geochemist with a background in volcanology and igneous geology. I use isotopes to constrain Earth System processes related to magmas and am currently interested in the processes of metal transport in active systems. As part of the MinEx CRC, I'm working on developing metal isotopes to look for mineral prospectivity in South Australia.                                                                                                                                           


                                                                                                                                                           Research themes

Lucy McGee
Chiloe, Southern Chile

Monogenetic and arc volcanism - How do volcanic deposits reflect magma genesis and ascent?

Basalt geochemistry - what does it tell us about the mantle source and how melts are released?

Mantle heterogeneity - how heterogeneous is the mantle really and on what temporal and spatial scale?

Uranium series chemistry (U-Th-Ra-Pb isotopes) to address timescale questions in igneous systems

Ore deposit genesis (new!) - what are the essential ingredients to form ore deposits and where can we find the next big one?

The beautiful tuff ring at Motukorea volcano, in the Auckland Volcanic Field.
The tuff ring at Motukorea volcano, in the Auckland Volcanic Field. Stratigraphic sampling revealed compositional variations linked to the melting process 



Much of my research since my MSci in the UK has centred around using the compositions of basalts erupted in small eruptive volcanic centres to understand the composition of the mantle, the way in which it melts and how these are reflected in small-scale volcanic deposits. My PhD work at the University of Auckland (supervised by Ian Smith and Jan Lindsay) focussed on the melting processes which have given rise to a city of miniature, Quaternary-age volcanoes: the Auckland Volcanic Field. During this time I studied the field using several key examples, and worked on its possible end-member basalt compositions with the use of radiogenic and U-series isotopes and major and trace element modelling. ‘Monogenetic’ certainly doesn’t mean ‘monotonous’!


Villarrica volcano
Villarrica Volcano in the Central Southern Volcanic Zone of the Andes is close to a small cluster of small basaltic centres

In my 3-year postdoc at the University of Chile (in addition to trialling U-Th dating on geothermal carbonates, as part of my project with the Andean Geothermal Centre of Excellence) I continued the theme of small volume basalts after being awarded a 3-year grant from the government. This time the volcanoes were in a far more complex arc context and in close proximity to large, active stratovolcanoes (the Pucon small eruptive centres close to Villarrica volcano, the Carran-Los Venados field close to Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano and the Antillanca volcanic complex, all in the Southern Volcanic Zone of Chile). I worked with Macquarie University in the U-series area of this project which provided important information on competing tectonic and source component-related signatures. I still continue to work with researchers from the Universidad de Chile and SERNAGEOMIN (the geological survey of Chile) on several volcanology-related projects in different areas of Southern Chile.


Montserrat enclave MT75
Mafic enclave from the January 2010 eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano (J. Barclay)


During my 2.5 year postdoc at Macquarie University I worked on what triggers explosive eruptions, applying the short lived isotopes of 210Pb and 226Ra (in the Uranium series decay chain) to recently erupted rocks from Soufriere Hills volcano in the Caribbean to examine the idea that volatile exchange is a major driver of explosive volcanism. 

As part of the MinEx CRC I will be working on developing metal isotopes to look for mineral prospectivity in South Australia.


ANZIC logoJanuary 2022- present: ANZIC (Australian and New Zealand International Ocean Discovery Program Consortium) Legacy grant for the project: "Metal isotopes applied to the start of subduction: testing the fluid transfer of copper from slab to surface" in collaboration with Prof Mark Reagan (University of Iowa) and A/Prof Julie Prytulak (Durham University). Awarded $16,500 AUD to analyses a suite of samples from the Bonin oceanic arc which preserve a record of the magmatic products of subduction initiation, sampled by IODP Exp. 352. We will examine the role of the slab in the transition from decompression melting to fluid fluxed melting due to dehydration. Fluid-sensitive Cu isotopes on pristine glasses taken through the forearc to arc transition should fingerprint the first low temperature aqueous fluid contributions from the slab, ultimately determining the source of Cu: the slab or the mantle. This has significance for our understanding of magma petrogenesis during subduction initiation, in addition to processes which may transport and potentially concentrate chalcophile elements. 

Previous grants: August 2019 - November 2021: ANZIC (Australian and New Zealand International Ocean Discovery Program Consortium) Legacy grant for the project: "Calibrating metal isotope proxies in modern hydrothermal environments for ancient ore deposit applications". Awarded $19,500 AUD to investigate the metal transport system in modern, active hydrothermal systems using a combination of redox sensitive metal isotopes and radiogenic magmatic-environmental sensitive isotopes. Studying in detail the behaviour of metal species in modern-day oceanic settings allows us to relate chemical behaviour directly to processes, something which is much harder to establish in ancient terrestrial settings, and which is critical for the new age of mineral exploration. Partner investigators: Dr Juraj Farkas (University of Adelaide) and Dr Chris Yeats (Geological Survey of New South Wales)

October 2013-October 2016: University of Chile. FONDECYT (Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico - national funds for the development of science and technology) Iniciación en Investigación (initiation of research), Project number 11130296. “Investigating the link between volcano size and melting dynamics along the Andean arc: a study of Chilean monogenetic volcanic fields”. In collaboration with researchers at Macquarie University, the University of Iowa and the University of Durham. Value approximately 100.000.000 CLP (c. 200,000 USD) over three years.

Semester 1: Igneous and Metamorphic Geology III (GEOLOGY_3016) (Igneous 6 weeks)

Winter school: Extra-Terrestrial Geoscience I (GEOLOGY_1300) (course coordinator)

Semester 2: Igneous and Metamorphic Geology II (GEOLOGY_2502) (Igneous 4 weeks)

Available to tutor Principles and Practice in Research II and III (BSc Adv course)

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2024 Principal Supervisor Cosmic insights: Meteorites as fundamental reference materials for objects in the solar system Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jake Craig Jolly
    2024 Principal Supervisor Volcanic eruptions through volcanic stratigraphy: Using geochemistry to understand the evolution of eruptions and subsurface systems. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Joshua Luke Coker
    2023 Principal Supervisor Cu and Zn isotope characterisation of an IOCG: a spatially constrained pilot project at Olympic Dam Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Sumitha Gunatilake
    2022 Principal Supervisor Tracing the movement of metals through the mantle and crust using Cu isotopes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Oliver Thomas Pring
    2022 Principal Supervisor Crystal and isotopic constraints on magma genesis and ascent in modern and ancient arcs Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Francisca Constanza Mallea Lillo
    2021 Co-Supervisor Tracing subsurface ore deposits through the isotope analysis of regolith/cover in Australia: Coupled Cu and S isotope approach applied to a rock-soil-water-plant system. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Zara Jean Frances Woolston
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2020 - 2023 Co-Supervisor Sediment-hosted Zn-Pb-Ag (+ Cu) deposits in the Mount Isa region: An epigenetic approach to mineralisation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Bradley Wade Cave
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2022 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Copper movement in active volcanic systems University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Conor Dalton
    2021 - 2021 Principal Supervisor What role do mafic magmas play in metal transport from mantle to crust? University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Oliver Pring
    2021 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Petrogenesis of magmas in the Antillanca volcanic complex (S. Chile) over space and time University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Declan Gear
    2020 - ongoing External Supervisor Integrated framework for the igneous evolution of the greater Delamerian Orogen University of South Australia - Doctorate Part Time Stacey Curtis
    2020 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Sr Nd isotopes at the Kanmantoo Cu-Au deposit, South Australia University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time William Rowe
    2019 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Cu isotopes in the Gawler Range Volcanics: applications for mineral exploration The University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Chris Lowczak
  • Position: Internal Grant Funded Researcher (B)
  • Phone: 83133260
  • Email:
  • Fax: 83134380
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Mawson, floor G
  • Org Unit: Earth Sciences

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