Professor Paul Dirks obtained an MSc degree in structural geology from the Utrecht University (1987) and a PhD in structural-metamorphic geology from the University of Melbourne (1990). Paul is an honorary professor in Geology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, a Fellow of the Geological Society of South Africa and a member of AusIMM.

Paul is a structural geologist with an interest in geodynamics and the tectonic history of cratonic terrains and adjacent mobile belts, investigating their tectonic evolution and associated mineralization patterns. His research is strongly field-based with a focus on detailed geological mapping. Paul has lived and worked across 5 continents, with results published in over 95 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, 130 conference papers and 65 professional reports.

Through the study of Neotectonics and landscape development in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, Paul was closely involved in the discovery of Australopithicus sediba; a new member to our ancestral family tree, which was announced to the world in 2010. He is particularly interested in how Africa’s dynamic landscape has shaped human evolution.

With a passion for capacity building in Africa, Paul is a founding director in the AfricaArray programme, which he helped establish in 2003 to reverse the geoscience brain-drain from that continent. AfricaArray links training to development of a multidisciplinary observational network across Sub-Sahara Africa aimed at enhancing knowledge of the tectonics and topography of the African Plate.

Paul has worked extensively as a professional consultant to the mining industry, and is a past director of SRK-Zimbabwe, past associate of SRK-South Africa, and has served as an expert member on range of mining projects. His consulting work has focused on structural geological mapping, geotechnical work for pit stability in open pits, and gold and base metal exploration, in part through the development of mineral databases.

Previous roles include Head of School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand; founding director of the Mineral Resources Centre, University of Zimbabwe, founding board member, Institute of Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, council member, Australia-New Zealand Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme Council, and peer review panel member overseeing the Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis of Nuclear Power Plant sites in South Africa.

  • EA2300: Introductory Structural and Metamorphic Geology (Level 2; TSV)
  • EA3510: Geological Mapping (Level 3; TSV)
  • EA3511: Field Techniques in Geology (Level 3; TSV)
  • EA5027: Advanced Field Training (Level 5; TSV)
  • SC1101: Science: Nature, Knowledge and Understanding (Level 1; TSV)
  • • Pit stability • Mapping of mineral deposits (esp. Gold) • Capacity building in Africa • Mining and development
  • • Structural metamorphic evolution of Archaean greenstone-gneiss terrains • Metallogenesis of Archaean terranes in Africa with special emphasis on gold mineralization • Tectonics of the African plate • The use of GIS as a tool for regional structural and tectonic interpretations • The use of GIS and structural techniques for mineral prospectivity mapping • Field-based regional structural analyses of metamorphic and sedimentary terrains • Lining dynamic landscapes in Africa to human evolution • Geological setting of hominin fossil deposits in the cradle of humankind, South Africa • Mining and development
  • 2004 to present - Director, AfricaArray programme (Africa)
  • 2005 to 2009 - Board Member, Palaeontology museum, Nieu-Bathesda (South Africa)
  • 2004 to 2009 - Head of School and Professor, University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • 2004 to 2009 - Board Member, Institute of Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
  • 2002 to 2006 - Associate, SRK South Africa (South Africa)
  • 1997 to 2006 - Director, Kairezi resources ltd (Zimbabwe)
  • 2001 to 2003 - Director, SRK Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
  • 1998 to 2002 - Associate Professor, University of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
  • 1998 to 2002 - Director, Mineral Resources Centre, University of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
  • 1994 to 1998 - Lecturer, University of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
  • 1991 to 1994 - Research Associate, University of Utrecht (Netherlands)
  • 1991 to 1992 - Researcher, Australian Antarctic Research Expedition (Antarctica)
  • 1991 - Visiting Research associate, Chengdu college of Geology (China)
  • 1990 to 1991 - Post-doctoral researcher, University of Newcastle (Australia)
  • 1990 to 1991 - Researcher, Australian Antarctic Research Expedition (Antarctica)
  • 1987 to 1990 - PhD student, University of Melbourne (Australia)
  • 1987 to 1988 - Researcher, Australian Antarctic Research Expedition (Antarctica)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2010 - Jubilee medal, Geological Society of South Africa, for best publication in the South African Journal of geology in 2009
  • 2010 - Guest lecture, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra on the discovery of Australopithicus sediba
  • 2002 - Phaup Award, Geological Society of Zimbabwe, for best publication on Zimbabwe geology in 2001
  • 2001 - Phaup Award, Geological Society of Zimbabwe, for best publication on Zimbabwe geology in 2000
  • 2000 - Phaup Award, Geological Society of Zimbabwe, for best publication on Zimbabwe geology in 1999
  • 1999 - Phaup Award, Geological Society of Zimbabwe, for best publication on Zimbabwe geology in 1998
  • 2002 - Geological Society of South Africa
  • 2010 - Australian Institute for Mining and Metallurgy
  • 2010 - American Geophysical Union
  • 2010 - Geological Society of Australia
  • 1994 - Geological Society of Zimbabwe
  • 1991 - Geological Society of the Netherlands (KNGMG)
  • 1995 to 2002 - Geological Society of South Africa
  • 1987 to 1993 - Geological Society of Australia

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Conference Papers
Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Spitfire Materials Ltd - Contract Research

Gold Mineralisation Styles in the Alice River Gold Field, FNQ

Indicative Funding
$40,500 over 2 years
The deposits along Alice River, including the Alice Queen mine are aligned along a lineament, interpreted as the Alice River Shear zone. The GSQ (Geological Survey of Queensland), in a recently completed study of the geology of Cape York Peninsula has interpreted the deposits as orogenic gold deposits based on outcrop patterns and limited field data. In spite of this interpretation, the age, mineral association, associated intrusives and structural styles of the deposits remains unknown and they have not been studied in details. Spitfire Materials is interested to know the age and style of mineralisation as this will assist future exploration.
Paul Dirks and Renee Bensemann in collaboration with Ioan Sanislav and Matthew White (College of Science & Engineering and Spitfire Materials Ltd)
Alice River; Gold; Mineralisation

Evolution Mining - Contract Research

Geological Characteristics and Genesis of Mt Carlton High-Sulfidation Epithermal Deposit, and the Implications for Exploration

Indicative Funding
$150,000 over 3 years
The project aims to A) Document the geological characteristics, particularly the zoning patterns of Mt Carlton, and understand the ore formation processes and factors controlling the positions of orebodies, to help the exploration for similar deposits, and B) to estimate the position of the porphyry deposit related to the Mt Carlton HS deposit, by first estimating the surface projection of the porphyry deposit at depth, and then estimating the depth of the deposit.
Zhaoshan Chang, Paul Dirks, Jan Huizenga and Christa Placzek in collaboration with Lars Fredrik Sahlstrom (College of Science & Engineering)
Mt Carlton; Gold-Copper; Porphyry Deposit; Queensland; High-Sulfidation Epithermal Deposit; Exploration

Qld Dept of Natural Resources and Mines - Future Resources Program

Characterising and assessing prospectivity of intrusion-related hydrothermal mineral systems in north-east Queensland

Indicative Funding
$1,779,736 over 2 years
The project is to assess the prospectivity of intrusion-related hydrothermal mineral systems in NE Queensland, through characterising the geological features and understanding the genesis and ore formation controls of known deposits, and investigating on regional alteration, magma fertility, geodynamic setting and evolution, and uplift/exhumation histories. The project will introduce new ideas and new approaches to help improve exploration success rate and to invigorate and revitalise exploration activities in NE Queensland.
Zhaoshan Chang, Paul Dirks, Carl Spandler, John Carranza, Jan Huizenga and Bob Henderson (College of Science & Engineering and Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Mt Carlton; Queensland; gold-copper; high-sulfidation epithermal deposit; porphyry deposit; Exploration

Anglogold Ashanti Geita Gold Mine Ltd - Contract Research

Geological Services, Geita Gold Mine

Indicative Funding
$1,818,729 over 6 years
The aim of the project is the development of new gold reserves from satellite pits and from the Kukuluma terrain, by building an integrated geological model for the entire tenement area. The area will be mapped, and a regional geological interpretation will be made as a basis for building a genetic model that will enable gold mineralization to be targeted, through ranking existing targets and generating new ones. A training strategy to improve the mine geology team will be implemented.
Paul Dirks, Tom Blenkinsop, Ioan Sanislav and Agnes Samper (College of Science & Engineering)
Gold; Exploration; Tanzania; Targeting; Training; Geita Mine

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Life and death of Australopithicus sediba: how a potential ancestor ended up dead in a cave in world heritage site in South Africa

Indicative Funding
$256,000 over 2 years
In August 2008 the remarkable Malapa fossil site was discovered with remains of the first and only fossils of Australopithecus sediba - a potential direct human ancestor. The fossils are in an exceptional state of preservation, and excavations will start in late 2013, creating a unique opportunity to develop a detailed understanding of the chemical, physical and biological factors that led to burial and fossilisation. This research will focus on the complex interplay between termites, sediment chemistry, landscape conditions and palaeo-climate as contributing factors to fossil preservation. Results will document the environment in which sediba lived and died, and assist future exploration for hominid fossils.
Paul Dirks, Eric Roberts, Carl Spandler and Tom Blenkinsop in collaboration with Lee Berger and Zubair Jinnah (College of Science & Engineering and University of the Witwatersrand - Johannesburg)
Australopithicus sediba; Taphonomy; Geochemistry

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Base Metal Genesis, Stratigraphy and Structural Evolution of the Central Tommy Creek Domain, Mt Isa Inlier (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Political Ecology of Spatial Development Initiatives (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Geochemical characterisation of gold mineralisation in Geita Hill (Geita Greenstone Belt, Tanzania) (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • Magma Fertility Related to Au-Cu Mineralization in North Queensland, Australia - Evaluating the Potential for Linked Porphyry Cu±Au (±Mo) Deposits at Depths. (PhD , Associate Advisor)
  • Understanding the Genesis and Patterns of Cave Fill across the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Geological controls on gold mineralization in the Kukuluma Terrain, Geita Greenstone Belt, NW Tanzania (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Cave sedimentation processes, geochronology, and the distribution of hominins at Rising Star Cave, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Geological Characteristics and Origin of the Watershed Tungsten Deposit, Northeast Queensland, Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The Origin and Evolution of Heavy Rare Earth Element Mineralisation in the Browns Range Area, Northern Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Mt Carlton High-sulfidation epithermal deposit, Queensland Australia: Geological Character genesis and implications for exploration. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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