The UFS Department of Geology is ideally located in South Africa to study the country’s spectacular and long-lived geological record, including the largest layered intrusion and meteorite impact crater on Earth. The department maintains an excellent analytical facility with a dedicated analytical scientist looking after the analytical infrastructure. The department also has access to state-of-the-art analytical equipment in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry, the Institute for Groundwater Studies, and the Centre for Microscopy. The central location of the department in the country also facilitates easy access to other geoscience departments in the country and their associated analytical infrastructure.

The department maintains numerous collaborations with the mining industry, universities, and research establishments worldwide. Prospective postgraduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and collaborators are encouraged to contact the Head of Department or any of the academic staff members to enquire about current research and research collaboration opportunities.

Additional information on recent research and research currently conducted within the department can be found on individual staff pages as well as on our recent research and list of theses and dissertations pages.

Research in the department is informally grouped into the following major focus areas:

Bushveld Complex Research Group
The 2.05 Ga Rustenburg Layered Suite of the Bushveld Complex is the largest layered intrusion on Earth and the world’s largest repository of platinum group elements, chromite and vanadium-bearing magnetite. Research in the department is focussed on the petrology and geochemistry of the Bushveld Complex and ‘Bushveld-related’ intrusives on the Kaapvaal craton. Aspects that are currently being investigated by staff and students of the research group include:
•    Mineral-scale disequilibrium features within the Rustenburg Layered Suite.
•    Novel isotopic systems applied to the petrogenesis of the Rustenburg Layered Suite
•    PGE geochemistry of the Merensky and UG2 reefs
•    REE geochemistry and mineralogy of the Phalaborwa Complex

Profs Chris Gauert (affiliated), Frederick Roelofse, Marian Tredoux, Mss Jarlen Beukes and Justine Magson

Environmental Geology and Geochemistry Research Group
Environmental Geochemistry is concerned with the impact of natural geochemical processes as well as human-induced environmental disturbances on natural systems, and importantly, on human health. Staff and students of the research group are currently involved in the following research projects:
•    The determination of trace element release rates from specific mineral sources in Witwatersrand tailings material through geochemical modelling.
•    Determination of major element contaminant and trace element release rates from specific mineral sources in various tailings materials representing different ore body types using experimental laboratory dissolution experiments and geochemical modelling.
•    Determination of adsorption potential in Witwatersrand tailings material for soluble uranium species through laboratory analysis and geochemical modelling.
•    Biogeochemistry and mobility of uranium in Witwatersrand tailings facilities.
•    Stabilisation of mobile trace elements and sulphate in Witwatersrand tailings facilities.
•    3D GIS modelling of the distribution of trace elements in Witwatersrand tailings.
•    Origin and mass balance of nitrate in platinum mine reticulation systems.

Researchers: Prof Marian Tredoux, Dr Robert Hansen, Mss Rinae Makhadi, Thendo Mapholi and Mr Raimund Rentel

Karoo Sedimentology Research Group
The Late Carboniferous to Early Jurassic Karoo Supergroup is the most widespread stratigraphic unit in South Africa. The Karoo Supergroup hosts a record of sedimentation that took place in a variety of settings, including deep water settings, glacial environments, fluvial / alluvial environments and aeolian environments. The Supergroup also hosts the Karoo Large Igneous Province (~180 Ma), which is today exposed as the numerous dolerite sills so characteristic of much of the Free State, and the basalts of the Lesotho highlands. Current projects of the research group include:
•    An examination of the sedimentology of the Beaufort Group along the Great Escarpment
•    Palaeoichnology of lungfish burrows

Researchers: Prof Willem van der Westhuizen, Drs Johan Loock (affiliated), Leon Nel (affiliated), Mr Adriaan Odendaal

Mineral Resource Management Research Group
Research in this group is largely conducted by the students of the MSc-programme in Mineral Resource Management, under the supervision of Prof. Willem van der Westhuizen. Projects are mostly concerned with improving our understanding of MRTM as a business improvement methodology in unpredictable environments.

Researcher: Prof Willem van der Westhuizen

Namaqua Metamorphic Province Research Group
The Namaqua Metamorphic Province is a rather well-preserved mobile belt that offers opportunities for a wide variety of geological studies including crust formation processes during the Paleo-Mesoproterozoic, the evolution of mobile belts during this time and plate tectonic models and theories such as terrane accretion and thin-skinned thrust-fold processes. Research that is currently being conducted by staff and students of the research group is focussed on:
•    Stratigraphic field mapping and structural analysis
•    Igneous petrology and geochemistry
•    Metasedimentary studies and basis analysis

Researchers: Prof Wayne Colliston (affiliated), Dr Hendrik Minnaar, Messrs Adriaan Odendaal and Justin Nel

Planetary Processes Research Group
Impact craters are the most common feature on the surface of rocky bodies in the Solar System.  South Africa boasts the oldest and largest confirmed impact crater on Earth, the Vredefort Impact Structure.  In addition, the Morokweng, Tswaing (Saltpan), and Kalkkop impact structures, as well as ejected material from large impact events preserved through the Proterozoic and Archean sedimentary successions.  Our research aims to unlock the mysteries of these impact craters and determine the effect of such incredible events on the rocks that they impacted. Our principle area of research focuses on the Vredefort Impact Structure.  We are using field geological and structural mapping, petrography, geochemistry, and investigation of shocked minerals to better understand the structure.

Drs Matthew Huber, Elizaveta Kovaleva and Martin Clark

Ventersdorp LIP Research Group
The Ventersdorp Supergroup is an extensive volcanic and sedimentary succession of Archean age located on the Kaapvaal Craton in South Africa. It is composed of several LIPs including basal flood basalts, a linked intermediate to felsic volcanic sequence and a later widespread flood basalt event. Current research is aimed at bettering our understanding of the stratigraphy and geochemistry of these LIPs using an extensive collection of company drill core material.

Researchers: Prof Willem van der Westhuizen, Drs Matthew Huber and Gerhard Meintjes (affiliated)


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531


Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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