Research interests

Banner photo: Bunbury Basalt colonnade exposures at Black Point, D'Entrecasteaux National Park, Western Australia. Photo by me.

Hugo Olierook has a wide variety of interests, all of which ultimately come together to better understanding Earth's global tectonic and geodynamic history. Hugo has worked on Hadean grains in eastern India to modern stromatolites in Shark Bay, and everything in between. His individual research foci are:

1. Causes of (super)continental rifting and breakup

  • Passive vs. active drivers of continental breakup (e.g., eastern Gondwana)
  • Responses of sedimentary basins to mechanical extension and thermal subsidence
  • Rates of extension and exhumation during continental breakup

Photo: Bunbury Basalt at Casuarina Point, Bunbury, Western Australia. Photo courtesy of G. Crouch.

2. Tectonics of plate boundaries in multiple regimes

  • Magmatic mantle source reponse to short-lived changes in tectonic regime (e.g., Pacific-Australian plate boundary along the Macquarie Ridge Complex)
  • Timing and causes and global plate reorganization events (e.g., mid-Cretaceous global plate reorganization best recorded off the NW coast of Australia)

Photo: Waterfall Bay Hut, Macquarie Island World Heritage Site. Photo courtesy of K. Evans.

3. Causes and effects of large igneous provinces

  • Mantle source and drivers for LIP production (e.g., Greater Kerguelen large igneous province)
  • Links between long-lived oceanic LIPs and their causes
  • Biological response to LIP-induced mass extinctions (e.g., proliferation of stromatolites following the Permian-Triassic extinction)

Photo: Post Permian-Triassic extinction stromatolites from Northampton, WA. Photo courtesy of S. Makin and L. Olden.

4. Reconstruction of geological histories through multi-disciplinary geoscience

  • Utilize wide variety of techniques to unravel geological history of Precambrian and Phanerozoic terranes (e.g., geochronology, isotope geochemistry, field mapping and stratigraphic analysis)

Figure: Geological map of the Singhbhum Craton, eastern India., from Olierook et al., 2019, Earth-Science Reviews.

5. Geochemistry and geochronology of mineral systems

  • Application of geochronological and geochemical techniques to pinpointing ore deposits
  • Re-Os of sulphides, Ar/Ar of K-bearing phases, U-Pb of zircon, monazite, titanite, rutile and xenotime
  • Machine learning approaches to 3D modelling

Figure: Interpretation of U-Pb data from orogenic terranes with multiple orogenic episodes and potential incorporation of common Pb, from Olierook et al., 2019, Chemical Geology.

6. Sedimentary basin applications for petroleum systems, CO2 sequestration, geothermal exploration and groundwater management:

  • 3D basin modelling (e.g., Perth Basin)
  • Reservoir quality analysis (e.g., all basins in the United Kingdom)

Figure: 3D model of the Perth Basin, showing depth to top of Permian, from Olierook et al., 2015 Australian Journal of Earth Sciences.