​Ore deposit geology and mineral exploration

Until recently, Franco Pirajno held the position of Senior Geoscientist in the Minerals Geoscience Resources section of the Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA). During the last 23 years Franco Pirajno has worked extensively in Western Australia’s Proterozoic terranes and was instrumental in the discovery of a new large igneous province in Australia.

Prior to joining the GSWA in 1993, Franco worked for the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Ltd, as Exploration Geologist, following a spell as a post-doctoral research scientist at the Vesuvius Volcano Observatory. Whilst with Anglo American, he participated and supervised exploration projects in many parts of southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South West Pacific islands and Indonesia. He was promoted to Exploration Manager of the Company’s activities in the South West Pacific till 1983, when appointed to the Chair of Economic Geology at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. 

As Director of MSc courses at Rhodes University, Franco was involved in both academic and administrative aspects. Research activity was mainly on precious metals and base metals mineral deposits in the southern African subcontinent. The MSc courses in Exploration Geology and in Economic Geology (course + research) were very intensive and with emphasis on field-based studies of ore deposits, their genesis and tectonic settings. This afforded the unique opportunity of examining and studying a large number and range of mineral systems in the southern African subcontinent. These included mineral systems in:
​•    Archaean granite greenstone terranes
•    Proterozoic intracratonic basins
•    Rift associated mineral deposits
•    Layered mafic-ultramafic complexes
•    Metamorphic belts of Proterozoic age
•    Alkaline complexes and other types of anorogenic magmatism products
 •   Carbonate rocks in passive margin settings.


 Brathwaite, R.L., Pirajno, F. 1993. The Metallogenic Map of New Zealand. Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Monograph 3, 215 pp. Lower Hutt, New Zealand.


 Pirajno, F. 2007. Ancient to modern Earth: the role of mantle plumes in the making of continental crest, In: Van Kranendonk MJ, Smithies RH, Bennett VC (eds), Earth’s oldest rocks, Chpt 8.3, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 1037-1064.

Huston DL, Morant P, Pirajno F, Cummins B, Baker D, Mernagh TP. 2007. Palaeoarchean mineral deposits of the Pilbara Craton: genesis, tectonic environment and comparisons with younger deposits. In: Van Kranendonk MJ, Smithies RH, Bennett VC (eds), Earth’s oldest rocks, Chpt 4.4, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 411-450

Pirajno, F. 2013. Chapter 7: Effects of metasomatism on mineral systems and their host rocks: alkali metasomatism, skarns, greisens, tourmalinites, rodingites, black-wall alteration and listvenites , in: Harlov DE and Austrheim H (eds) Metasomatism and metamorphism: the role of fluids in crustal and upper mantle processes, Lecture Series in Earth Science, Springer, pp 203-252

Pirajno F . 2018 Chapter 12: Halogens in hydrothermal fluids and their role in the formation and evolution of hydrothermal mineral systems. In: Harlov DE and Aranovic L (eds), Therole of halogens in terrestrial and extraterrestrial geochemical processes.  Springer Geochemistry, pp 759-804

Pirajno F, Huston DL 2019 Chapter 9: Palaeoarchean (3.6-3.2 Ga) mineral systems in the context of continental crust building and the role of mantle plumes.  In: Van Kranendonk MJ, Bennett VC, Hofmann E (eds), Earth’s oldest rocks, 2nd edition,  Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 187-209

Huston DL, Pirajno F,  Morant P, Cummins B,  Baker D and  Mernagh TP 2019 Chapter 22; Palaeoarchaean mineral deposits of the Pilbara Craton: genesis, tectonic environment and comparisons with younger deposits. In: Van Kranendonk MJ, Bennett VC, Hofmann E (eds), Earth’s oldest rocks, 2nd edition, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 519-551

​.His numerous appointments include:
  • Visiting Professor at Peking University in 2003 and China University of Geosciences, Beijing in 2004 and 2005.
  • Distinguished Foreign Professor at Hefei University of Technology, September-October 2012.
  • Appointed Chairperson of SEG Fellowship Admissions Committee for 2009-2011.
  • Associate Editor for the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences
  • Associate Editor for Gondwana Research.
  • Appointed Editor-in-Chief of Ore Geology Reviews in March 2012
  • Appointed Series Editor of Modern Approaches in Solid Earth Sciences (Springer) in November 2012. 
  • Member of the Steering Committee of the Large Igneous Provinces Working Group. 

Fields of Interest

  • Regional tectonics and metallogeny
  • Hydrothermal mineral systems and alteration patterns
  • Ancient and recent volcanic systems and related mineralisation
  • Conceptual modelling of ore deposit systems
  • Meteorite impacts and related hydrothermal systems
  • Analogues of hydrothermal systems on other planets of the Solar System
  • Mantle plumes and large igneous provinces

  • Languages
  • Fluent in English and Italian
  • Good working knowledge of Latin, Portuguese, French and Spanish

Professional Memberships
  • Geological Society of Australia
  • Fellow, Society of Economic Geologists
  • Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits
  • Society of Economic Geologists
  • Geological Society of America
  • International Association on the Genesis of Ore Deposits (IAGOD)