Steven Micklethwaite


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

    6009 Perth


  • 622 Citations
  • 11 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile


Steven Micklethwaite was appointed as the Inaugural Hammond-Nisbet Fellow to the Centre for Exploration Targeting in late 2011, with a remit to combine the disciplines of field mapping, structural geology, and geophysics, to generate creative new outcomes for the exploration industry. Having received a PhD from Leeds University, UK, he moved to conduct research at the Research School for Earth Sciences, Australian National University (ANU), and then CODES Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, University of Tasmania (UTAS). He is a recipient of the Rising Stars Award (UTAS). He has international and national collaborative links with the University of Massachusetts, Sydney University, CSIRO, Strathclyde University and the University of British Columbia, which have led to the publication of a number of journal articles. Steven has mapped in South Africa, Indonesia, Australia and the USA, and studied epithermal, Carlin-type and orogenic gold deposits, as well as unusual pyrophyllite deposits.

For more information on the Hammond-Nisbet Geoscience Fund please see

Funding overview

• 2011, (~$1,000,000 equivalent). “Tectonic framework for the easternmost Coral Sea and northern extent of the Lord Howe hotspot, RV Southern Surveyor Cruise ss2012_v06”. (Seton M., Muller R.D., Heine C., Micklethwaite S., and Meffre S.)
• 2010, $51,000. Rising Stars Award. University of Tasmania. (S. Micklethwaite)
• 2010, $7,000. Visiting Scholarship. University of Tasmania. (S. Micklethwaite, M. Cooke at University of Massachussetts, and T. Blenkinsop, James Cook University).
• 2010, ~$420,000 over 2 years, plus in-kind support of ~$200,000. Direct industry project, Newcrest Mining Ltd. “Enabling blind exploration – Identifying hidden structure with faults, fractals and geomorphology”. (S. Micklethwaite, B.Gemmell, D.Cooke at University of Tasmania, and T. Blenkinsop, James Cook University).
• 2009, $25,000. University of Tasmania, commercialisation prize.
• 2008, ~$15,000. Commercial industry project, Barrick Gold Corp. “Targeting fault-related permeability and mineralisation around the Getchell fault system”. (S. Micklethwaite).
• 2007, $5000. Royal Society of Edinburgh. (S.Micklethwaite, Z. Shipton, University of Glasgow), we won this peer reviewed UK fellowship for collaboration on “faulting and fluid flow at mid-crustal depths”.
• 2005, ~$400,000 over 3 years, plus in-kind support of ~$240,000 from industry. AMIRA P718A. “Exploration potential of stress transfer modelling of fault-related mineral deposits”. (S. Micklethwaite, S.Cox at Australian National University). In addition, ARC-Linkage LP0562164 (awarded to S.Cox where I provided a contribution of 50% to the design of this Linkage application through the AMIRA P718A proposal).

Previous positions

2010-2011: Senior Research Fellow, CODES, University of Tasmania
2008-2010: Research Fellow, CODES, University of Tasmania
2004-2008: Research Fellow, RSES, Australian National University
2002-2004: Postdoc, RSES, Australian National University

Current projects

Fault architecture and damage production in metasediments, using high-resolution drone survey data.

The 4D architecture of North Halmahera arc, Indonesia, using global geophysics and petrology.

Industrial relevance

My research is industry focused, and opportunities exist for both consultancies and applied research projects. Over the last 8 years, sponsorship and consultancy, has been received from 9 different major exloration companies, working across 4 continents.

I am currently commercialising a technique to aid blind exploration, following the award of commercialisation prizes at both ANU and UTAS.


My research interests centre on faulting, fracturing, shearing and fluid flow within the Earth. These include;

(1) Faults and Fluids from Micro to Mega, and Application to Deep Earth Resource Targeting: The 4D architecture and mechanics of fault networks influence fluid flow, at all scales (microscopic to tectonic). By integrating field mapping, geophysics, geochemistry, isotopic surveys and geochronology we aim to unravel how and where faults acted as high permeability conduits. The careful application of fault scaling principles, geomechanical modelling and 3D visualisation are all promising for developing new exploration targeting tools.

(2) Fault/Vein Architecture and Growth: Fault/vein systems have emergent complexities – bends, stepovers, tip zones, associated damage and kinematic coherence. The advent of fractal theory suggests pattern exists in this complexity. Is there any scaling of elements that allow us to predict fault/vein properties in the subsurface?

(3) Geo-Drones? – Rapid, Semiautomatic, High-Resolution Mapping Using the Oktokopter and other cool stuff: Rapid advances in drone technology and photogrammetry now allow us to survey and photograph, in 3D, a kilometre of outcrop in a matter of minutes. The resolution is outstanding (mm-cms). Similarly, handspecimens can be recreated in 3D just using a digital hand-held camera. We aim to develop semiautomatic recognition of structure and lithology, with wide ranging applications encompassing minerals exploration, mine mapping, geotechnical surveys, undergraduate teaching and virtual archiving of museum specimens.

Projects are typically multi-disciplinary, and I have worked with geochronologists, petrologists, geophysicists and spatial surveyors. If there is industry interest in participating in such research please contact me.

Research expertise keywords

  • Mineral systems
  • Self-organisation
  • Scaling and fractals
  • Fault mechanics and numerical modelling
  • Earthquakes
  • Plate tectonics
  • Hydrothermal ore deposits
  • Deep earth resources
  • Blind exploration
  • Epithermal, carlin and orogenic gold deposits
  • Structural geology
  • 4D architecture
  • Field mapping
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Digital mapping

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Research Output

  • 622 Citations
  • 11 h-Index
  • 15 Article
  • 2 Comment/debate
  • 2 Review article
  • 1 Conference paper

Evidence for dyke-parallel shear during syn-intrusion fracturing

Dering, G. M., Micklethwaite, S., Cruden, A. R., Barnes, S. J. & Fiorentini, M. L., 1 Feb 2019, In : Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 507, p. 119-130 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 6 Citations (Scopus)

    Review of drones, photogrammetry and emerging sensor technology for the study of dykes: Best practises and future potential

    Dering, G. M., Micklethwaite, S., Thiele, S. T., Vollgger, S. A. & Cruden, A. R., 15 Mar 2019, In : Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 373, p. 148-166 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  • 12 Citations (Scopus)
  • 5 Citations (Scopus)

    Magma plumbing systems: A geophysical perspective

    Magee, C., Stevenson, C. T. E., Ebmeier, S. K., Keir, D., Hammond, J. O. S., Gottsmann, J. H., Whaler, K. A., Schofield, N., Jackson, C. A. L., Petronis, M. S., O'Driscoll, B., Morgan, J., Cruden, A., Vollgger, S. A., Dering, G., Micklethwaite, S. & Jackson, M. D., 1 Jun 2018, In : Journal of Petrology. 59, 6, p. 1217-1251 35 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 20 Citations (Scopus)

    Spatial Periodicity in Self-Organized Ore Systems

    Hayward, N., Doutre, R. & Micklethwaite, S., 2018, METALS, MINERALS, AND SOCIETY. Arribas, AM. & Mauk, JL. (eds.). Society of Economic Geologists, p. 1-24 24 p. (Society of Economic Geologists Special Publications Series; vol. 21).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper