Nicolas Thebaud


  • The University of Western Australia (M006), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


I have completed my Ph.D between the University of Paris 6 and the University of Sydney in 2006. During my PhD studies I conducted competitive and interdisciplinary research, combining hard-rock field geology, structural geology, and petrography with cutting edge analytical techniques including high-resolution synchrotron microfluorescence X techniques for the analysis of single fluid inclusions. I applied this multidisciplinary approach to characterised and model the geometry and hydrodynamics of a Mesoarchean plumbing system in the Pilbara, to constrain the scale and magnitude of fluid circulations, their relationships with Archaean crustal geodynamics and their impact on the formation of ore deposits. From 2006 to late 2007 I spent 18 months expanding my skills and experience in mineral exploration as a structural geologist for Mercator Gold Australia. I have joined CET in October 2007 and I am currently the Hamond and Nisbet fellow. 

Roles and responsibilities

My current role involves 50% research, 40% teaching and 10% administration. 

Research interests

My research focuses on geodynamic and tectonic processes, their petrological and geochemical impacts, and their controls on the formation of ore deposits. Down the line, my research aims at unravelling the understanding and detection of mineralised systems. In a resource constrained world and with growing cost and energy pressures, sustainable metal production relies on the maximization of near-mine resource development and productivity. In providing an understanding of the physical and chemical processes leading to the solubilization, transport and deposition of metals in natural ore systems my research is critical for future sustainable development of a mineral resource sector.  

I have a broad range of skills and expertise in the field of Mineral System Science and my scientific contributions focus around three main themes. (1) Investigation of the lithospheric to continental architecture: Together with the research group I am working with at the CET (Dr T. Kemp, Prof M. Fiorentini, Prof M. Jessell), I have pioneered in combining classic structural geology, lithochemistry and petrology techniques with in-situ radiogenic and stable isotope analyses to reveal the lithospheric to craton scale architecture that funnelled both energy and mater in the making of ore deposits. Developed on the Archean Yilgarn Craton in Western Australia, I have further expanded its application on the Paleoproterozoic terrains of the West Africa craton but also more recent Phanerozoic terrains in the South American Cordillera. The generation of such dataset not only help peer into the lithospheric architecture that applies a direct control on the locus of metal accumulation, but it also provide a fantastic opportunity to evaluate crustal growth processes and associated geodynamic settings that punctuated and evolved over the Earth evolution. (2) 4D reconstruction of mineralised terrains: At the regional to camp scale, a large part of my research relies on the structural, stratigraphic, geophysical, geochronological and petrological evaluation of mineralised camps and deposits. The core of this multidisciplinary approach is dedicated to evaluate the metallogenic processes as part of the tectonic evolution of Precambrian and Phanerozoic terranes. My research helps framing the spatial and temporal context associated with ore deposit formation and therefore directly impact on the definition of new exploration strategies. As part of this research stream I work closely with scholars both nationally (Prof. J. Miller, Prof M. Dentith, Prof M. Jessell, Prof S. Hagemann, Dr P. Hayman, Dr Q. Masurel) and internationally (Prof Vanderhaege, Dr Eglinger, Dr L. Baratoux, Prof A.S. André-Mayer) (3) Geochemistry and mineralogy of ore forming processes: At the core of this research project application is my interest in further evaluating processes leading to metal transfer through the crust. For this research stream I collaborate with colleagues both in Australia (Dr L. Petrella, Dr D. Fougerousse, Prof K. Evans, Dr L. Martin, Dr S. Occhipinti) and internationally (Dr C. Laflamme). Using well constrained samples provided by the contextual, I investigate the solubilisation transport and deposition mechanisms using a combination of high resolution in-situ techniques. The development of micrometric techniques (SIMS, TIMA) and nanometric Transmitted Electronic Microscopy allow for the evaluation of the chemical processes leading to the solubilization, transport and deposition of metals in natural ore system. Such investigation recently led to the recognition, for the first time, of the role of nano-scale colloidal transport for high-grade gold deposits formation.

Teaching overview

As a teaching and research academic I am currently the teaching coordinator for a Level 4 unit (Structural for exploration (GEOS4417)) and for a level 5 unit (Advanced applied structural geology (MING5501)). I also contribute to the teaching of a third year undergrad unit (EART3343 Structural Geology and Tectonics) and two fourth year units (GEOS5505 Multiscale Tectonic Systems and GEOS4410 Australia’s Geological Evolution) within which I deliver workshop seminars, practicals and field based teaching. 

I am currently the coordinator for the Master of Ore Deposit Geology.

Industrial relevance

It is for me imperative for the scientific outcomes I am generating to be applicable. Accordingly my research impact is best illustrated through the ongoing industry engagement and support I receive. I am a well-established research provider for the mineral industry in Australia but also internationally in West Africa and South America. industry partners involved in my research are: Newmont Corporation, Barrick Gold, Goldfields, Northern Star, Perseus Gold, Resolute Mining, Nickel West (BHP), Goldroad, Saracen Minerals, Anglogold Ashanti, Roxgold, Compania Minera Poderosa, Sandfire Resources, Newcrest and Torogold.


I am associate editor for Ore Geology Reviews, guest editor for Mineralium Deposita as well as commonly invited to review manuscript for prestigious journals such as Nature and Geology but also for internationally recognised journals such as Economic Geology, Precambrian Research, Ore Geology Reviews and Mineralium Deposita.

I am a member of the Society of Economic Geology (SEG) and of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral deposits. I am a committee member of Geoconference (WA)inc. – Committee member. Over the past five years I was the Chair of Target2017 conference organization committee. I am currently the deputy chair of the of the 6th International Archean Symposium and part of the Target2022.

I am a director of the AGATE project, a benevolent institution dedicated to provide development assistance in West Africa in the form of access to quality education and training in the field of earth and planetary sciences. For more information on past capacity building in West Africa you can see the following video:



Current projects

Dr N Thébaud; Prof S Hagemann; Dr Q Masurel (2020 to 2023) Geological evolution of the Oberon gold deposit, Funding: Newmont Corporation

Dr N Thébaud; Prof S Dentith; Prof S Hagemann; Prof. M Fiorentini; Dr A Kemp; Dr A Aitken; Prof M Jessell (2019 to 2022) Yilgarn 2020 (M530), Funding: MRIWA 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Industry keywords

  • Mining and Resources

Research expertise keywords

  • Economic geology
  • Structural geology
  • Precambrian geology
  • Mineral exploration targeting
  • Geochronology and thermochronology
  • Isotopic geochemistry


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