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Staff Profile

Dr Geoff Nowell

Senior Research Officer in the Department of Earth Sciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42339
Room number: Rm 138

Contact Dr Geoff Nowell (email at


BSc. (Hons) The University of Leicester
PhD The Open University, 1993
1994-95: NERC Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Durham University and NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL).
1995-96: NERC Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Durham University.
1996-97: NERC (ODP) Postdoctoral Research Scientist, NIGL.
1997-98: NERC funded Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Durham University.
1998-00: PIMMS & Tracer Facility Manager, NIGL.
2000-01: Scientific officer, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol.
2001-Present: Senior Research Officer/Laboratory Manager of Earth Sciences University of Durham

Career Research Highlights

Nowell is a specialist in multi-collector plasma ionisation and thermal ionisation mass spectrometry. Much of his career has specialised in Lu-Hf isotope measurements applied to mantle samples, combining this approach with Re-Os geochemistry to provide powerful constraints on the origins of potassic magmas and pyroxenite lithologies in the mantle. Recently he has been developing methods for ultra-low (pg and below) Pt analyses in DNA extracted from anti-cancer drug therapy patients (with the Northern Institute for Cancer Research) and laser ablation sulphur isotope ratio measurements in DGT gels (with Lancaster Environmental Sciences School).

Research Interests

● Development and application of the Lu-Hf isotope system.
● Development of laser ablation and solution based analytical methodolgies using Multi Collector ICP Mass Spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS)
● Methodologies for accurate and precise correction of atomic and polyatomic interferences during MC-ICP-MS isotope ratio measurements.
● Geochemistry of kimberlites and lamproites.
● Isotopic evolution of the mantle & crust

Teaching areas

Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry (Level 2: Chemical Tracing)

Research Groups

Department of Earth Sciences

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • J. H. Batey, T. Prohaska, M.S.A. Horstwood, G.M. Nowell, H. Goenaga-Infante & G. C. Eiden (2005). Mass Spectrometers. In ICP Mass Spectrometry Handbook. S. Nelms Blackwell. 26-116.
  • N. H. Gale, S. Stos-Gale, G. Nowell & R. E. Clay (2002). Archaeometallurgical research in the Aegean. In The Beginnings of Metallurgy in the Old World. Martin Bartelheim, Ernst Pernicka & Rüdiger Krause Rahden/Westf.: Verlag Marie Leidorf. 277-302.

Journal Article

  • Tassara, Santiago, González-Jiménez, José M., Reich, Martin, Saunders, Edward, Luguet, Ambre, Morata, Diego, Grégoire, Michel, van Acken, David, Schilling, Manuel E., Barra, Fernando, Nowell, Geoff & Corgne, Alexandre (2018). Highly siderophile elements mobility in the subcontinental lithospheric mantle beneath southern Patagonia. Lithos 314-315: 579-596.
  • van Acken, D., Luguet, A., Pearson, D.G., Nowell, G.M., Fonseca, R.O.C., Nagel, T.J. & Schulz, T. (2017). Mesoarchean melting and Neoarchean to Paleoproterozoic metasomatism during the formation of the cratonic mantle keel beneath West Greenland. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 203: 37-53.
  • McKinley, Jacqueline I., Dinwiddy, K.E., Millard, A. & Nowell, G. (2016). A Conversion-Period Cemetery at Woodlands, Adwick-le-Street, South Yorkshire*. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 88(1): 77-120.
  • Wainwright, A.N., Luguet, A., Schreiber, A., Fonseca, R.O.C., Nowell, G.M., Lorand, J.-P., Wirth, R. & Janney, P.E. (2016). Nanoscale variations in 187 Os isotopic composition and HSE systematics in a Bultfontein peridotite. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 447: 60-71.
  • Marinho Reis, Amélia Paula, Shepherd, Thomas, Nowell, Geoff, Cachada, Anabela, Duarte, Armando Costa, Cave, Mark, Wragg, Joanna, Patinha, Carla, Dias, Ana, Rocha, Fernando, da Silva, Eduardo Ferreira, Sousa, António Jorge, Prazeres, Cátia & Batista, Maria João (2016). Source and pathway analysis of lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Lisbon urban soils. Science of The Total Environment 573: 324-336.
  • Hastie, A. R., Fitton, J. G., Mitchell, S. F., Neill, I., Nowell, G. M. & Millar, I. L. (2015). Can Fractional Crystallization, Mixing and Assimilation Processes be Responsible for Jamaican-type Adakites? Implications for Generating Eoarchaean Continental Crust. Journal of Petrology 56(7): 1251-1283.
  • Weiss, Yaakov, McNeill, John, Pearson, D. Graham, Nowell, Geoff M. & Ottley, Chris J. (2015). Highly saline fluids from a subducting slab as the source for fluid-rich diamonds. Nature 524(7565): 339-344.
  • King, Charlotte L., Tayles, Nancy, Higham, Charles, Strand-Viđarsdóttir, Una, AlexanderBentley, R., Macpherson, Colin G. & Nowell, Geoff (2015). Letter to the editor: Response to Oxenham and Matsumura. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 159(2): 352-354.
  • King, Charlotte L., Tayles, Nancy, Higham, Charles, Strand-Viđarsdóttir, Una, Bentley, R. Alexander, Macpherson, Colin G. & Nowell, Geoff (2015). Using isotopic evidence to assess the impact of migration and the two-layer hypothesis in prehistoric Northeast Thailand. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 158(1): 141-150.
  • King, CL Bentley, RA Higham, C, Tayles, N Vioarsdottir, US, Layton, R, Macpherson, CG & Nowell, GM (2014). Economic change after the agricultural revolution in Southeast Asia? Antiquity 88(339): 112-125.
  • Tappe, Sebastian, Kjarsgaard, Bruce A., Kurszlaukis, Stephan, Nowell, Geoff M. & Phillips, David (2014). Petrology and Nd–Hf Isotope Geochemistry of the Neoproterozoic Amon Kimberlite Sills, Baffin Island (Canada): Evidence for Deep Mantle Magmatic Activity Linked to Supercontinent Cycles. Journal of Petrology 55(10): 2003-2042.
  • Klein-BenDavid, Ofra, Pearson, D. Graham, Nowell, Geoff M., Ottley, Chris, McNeill, John C.R., Logvinova, Alla & Sobolev, Nikolay V. (2014). The sources and time-integrated evolution of diamond-forming fluids – Trace elements and isotopic evidence. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 125: 146-169.
  • Coggon, JA, Luguet, A, Nowell, GM & Appel, PWU (2013). Hadean mantle melting recorded by southwest Greenland chromitite 186Os signatures. Nature Geoscience 6(10): 871–874.
  • Smith, E.M., Kopylova, M.G., Nowell, G.M., Pearson, D.G. & Ryder J. (2012). Archean mantle fluids preserved in fibrous diamonds from Wawa, Superior craton. Geology 40(12): 1071-1074.
  • McLeod, C.L., Davidson, J.P., Nowell, G.M. & de Silva, S.L. (2012). Disequilibrium melting during crustal anatexis and implications for modeling open magmatic systems. Geology 40(5): 435-438.
  • Charlier, BLA Nowell, GM , Parkinson, IJ Kelley, SP Pearson, DG & Burton, KW (2012). High temperature strontium stable isotope behaviour in the early solar system and planetary bodies. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 329-330: 31-40.
  • Widerlund, A. Nowell, G.M., Davison, W. & Pearson, D.G. (2012). High-resolution measurements of sulphur isotope variations in sediment pore-waters by laser ablation multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Chemical Geology 291: 278-285.
  • Coggon, J.A., Nowell, G.M., Pearson, D.G., Oberthür, T., Lorand,J-P., Melcher, F. & Parman, S.W. (2012). The 190Pt–186Os decay system applied to dating platinum-group element mineralization of the Bushveld Complex, South Africa. Chemical Geology 302-303: 48-60.
  • Tappe, S, Pearson, DG, Nowell, G , Nielsen, T, Milstead, P & Muehlenbachs, K (2011). A fresh isotopic look at Greenland kimberlites: Cratonic mantle lithosphere imprint on deep source signal. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 305(1-2): 235-248.
  • Bianchini, G Beccaluva, L Nowell, GM , Pearson, DG & Siena, F (2011). Mantle xenoliths from Tallante (Betic Cordillera): Insights into the multi-stage evolution of the south Iberian lithosphere. Lithos 124(3-4): 308-318.
  • Bickle, P Hofmann, D Bentley, RA Hedges, R Hamilton, J Laiginhas, F , Nowell, G , Pearson, DG Grupe, G & Whittle, A (2011). Roots of diversity in a Linearbandkeramik community: isotope evidence at Aiterhofen (Bavaria, Germany). ANTIQUITY 85(330): 1243-1258.
  • Company, R, Serafim, A, Lopes, B Cravo, A, Kalman, J, Riba, I, DelValls, TA, Blasco, J, Delgado, J, Sarmiento, AM, Nieto, JM, Shepherd, TJ, Nowell, G & Bebianno, MJ (2011). Source and impact of lead contamination on delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase activity in several marine bivalve species along the Gulf of Cadiz. Aquatic Toxicology 101(1): 146-154.
  • Klein-BenDavid, O, Pearson, DG, Nowell, GM, Ottley, C, McNeill, JCR & Cartigny, P (2010). Mixed fluid sources involved in diamond growth constrained by Sr-Nd-Pb-C-N isotopes and trace elements. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 289(1-2): 123-133.
  • Aulinas, M, Gimeno, D, Fernandez-Turiel, JL, Font, L, Perez-Torrado, FJ, Rodriguez-Gonzalez, A & Nowell, GM (2010). Small-scale mantle heterogeneity on the source of the Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) Pliocene-Quaternary magmas. Lithos 119(3-4): 377-392.
  • Harlou, R, Pearson, DG, Nowell, GM, Ottley, CJ & Davidson, JP (2009). Combined Sr isotope and trace element analysis of melt inclusions at sub-ng levels using micro-milling, TIMS and ICPMS. Chemical Geology 260(3-4): 254-268.
  • Nowell, GM & Horstwood, MSA (2009). Comments on Richards et al., Journal of Archaeological Science 35, 2008 "Strontium isotope evidence of Neanderthal mobility at the site of Lakonis, Greece using laser-ablation PIMMS". Journal of Archaeological Science 36(7): 1334-1341.
  • Kerr, A, Pearson, DG & Nowell, GM (2009). Magma source evolution beneath the Caribbean oceanic plateau: new insights from elemental and Sr-Nd-Pb-Hf isotopic studies of ODP Leg 165 Site 1001 basalts. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 328(1): 809-827.
  • Rosenthal, A, Foley, SF, Pearson, DG, Nowell, GM & Tappe, S (2009). Petrogenesis of strongly alkaline primitive volcanic rocks at the propagating tip of the western branch of the East African Rift. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 284(1-2): 236-248.
  • McNeill, J, Pearson, DG, Klein-BenDavid, O, Nowell, GM, Ottley, CJ & Chinn, I (2009). Quantitative analysis of trace element concentrations in some gem-quality diamonds. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 21(36): 364207.
  • Luguet, A, Nowell, GM & Pearson, DG (2008). 186Os measurements by N-TIMS: Effects of interfering element and mass fractionation correction on data accuracy and precision. Chemical Geology 248: 342-362.
  • Luguet,A, Pearson,DG, Nowell, GM, Dreher, ST, Coggon, JA, Spetsius, SV & Parman, SW (2008). Enriched Pt–Re–Os isotope systematics in plume lavas explained by metasomatic sulfides. Science 319(5862): 453-456.
  • G.M. Nowell, A. Luguet, D.G. Pearson & M.A. Horstwood (2008). Precise and accurate 186Os/188Os and 187Os/188Os measurements by Multi- Collector Plasma Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) part I: solution analyses. Chemical Geology 248: 363-393.
  • Font, L., Davidson, J.P., Pearson, D.G., Nowell, G.M., Jerram, D. & Ottley, C.J. (2008). Sr and Pb isotope micro-analysis in plagioclase crystals from Skye lavas: An insight into open-system processes in a flood basalt province. Journal of Petrology 49(8): 1449-1471.
  • Pearson, D.G., Parman, S.W. & Nowell, G.M. (2007). A link between large mantle melting events and continent growth seen in osmium isotopes. Nature 449(7159): 202-205.
  • Veal GJ, Errington J, Tilby MJ, Pearson ADJ, Foot ABM McDowell H, Ellershaw C Pizer B Nowell GM , Pearson DG & Boddy AV (2007). Adaptive dosing and platinum-DNA adduct formation in children receiving high-dose carboplatin for the treatment of solid tumours. British Journal of Cancer 96(5): 725-731.
  • Morgan, D.J., Jerram, D.A., Chertkoff, D.G., Davidson, J.P., Pearson, D.G., Kronz, A. & Nowell, G.M. (2007). Combining CSD and isotopic microanalysis: Magma supply and mixing processes at Stromboli Volcano, Aeolian Islands, Italy. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 260(3-4): 419-431.
  • R. Alexander Bentley, Hallie R. Buckley, Matthew Spriggs, Stuart Bedford, Chris J. Ottley, Geoff M. Nowell, Colin G. Macpherson & D. Graham Pearson (2007). LAPITA MIGRANTS IN THE PACIFIC’S OLDEST CEMETERY:ISOTOPIC ANALYSIS AT TEOUMA, VANUATU. American Antiquity 72: 645-656.
  • Thompson, R.N., Riches, A.J.V., Antoshechkina, P.M., Pearson, D.G., Nowell, G.M., Ottley, C.J., Dickin, A.P., Hards, V.L., Nguno, A.K. & Niku-Paavola, V. (2007). Origin of CFB magmatism: Multi-tiered intracrustal picrite-rhyolite magmatic plumbing at Spitzkoppe, western Namibia, during early-Cretaceous Etendeka magmatism. Journal of Petrology 48(6): 1119-1154.
  • Charlier, B.L.A. , Ginibre, C. , Morgan, D. , Nowell, G.M. , Pearson, D.G. , Davidson, J.P. & Ottley, C.J. (2006). Methods for the microsampling and High-precision analysis of strontium and rubidium isotopes at single crystal scale for petrological and geochronological applications. Chemical Geology 232: 114-133.
  • Davies, G.R., Stolz, A.J., Mahotkin, I.L., Nowell, G.M. & Pearson, D.G (2006). Trace Element and Sr-Pb-Nd-Hf Isotope Evidence for Ancient, Fluid-Dominated Enrichment of the Source of Aldan Shield Lamproites. Journal of Petrology 47: 1119-1146.
  • Pearson, D.G & Nowell, G.M (2005). Accuracy and precision in plasma ionisation multi-collector mass spectrometry: Constraints from neodymium and hafnium isotope measurements. Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry, Current Trends and Future Developments 284-314.
  • Nowell, G.M, Pearson, D.G, Ottley, C.J & Tilby, M.J (2005). Accurate determination of Pt concentrations at ultra-low levels (<<20pg) in clinical DNA samples with high Hf/Pt ratios using the thermo finnigan neptune plasma ionisation multi-collector mass spectrometer (PIMMS). Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry, Applications and Emerging Technologies 245-258.
  • D.W. Davis, Y. Amelin, G.M. Nowell & R.R. Parrish (2005). Hf isotopes in zircon from the western Superior province, Canada: Implications for Archean crustal development and evolution of the depleted mantle reservoir. Precambrian Research 140(3-4): 132-156.
  • Bellis, D.J, Nowell, G.M, Ottley, C.J, Pearson, D.G & Davison, W (2005). Solution and laser ablation analysis of sulphur isotopes with the Neptune high resolution multi-collector ICP-MS (MC-ICP-MS): Application to diffusive gradients in thin films. Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry, Current Trends and Future Developments 268-283.
  • Johnson, J.S, Gibson, S.A, Thompson, R.N & Nowell, G.M (2005). Volcanism in the Vitim Field, Baikal Rift Zone, Siberia: Geochemical Evidence for a Mantle Plume Beneath the Baikal Rift Zone. Journal of Petrology 46: 1309-1344.
  • Nowell, G.M, Pearson, D.G, Bell, D.R, Carlson, R.W, Smith, C. B, Kempton, P.D & Noble, S.R (2004). Hf isotope systematics of kimberlites and their megacrysts: New constraints on their source regions. Journal of Petrology 45(8): 1583-1612.
  • Cooper, B.W, Veal, G.J, Radivoyevitch, T, Tilby, M.J, Meyerson H.J, Lazarus, H.M, Koc O.N, Creger, R.J, Pearson, D.G, Nowell G.M, Gosky, D, Ingalls, S.T, Hoppel, C.L & Gerson, S.L (2004). Phase I and Pharmacodynamic Study of Fludarabine, Carboplatin, and Topotecan in Patients with Relapsed, Refractory or High Risk Acute Leukemia and Advanced Myelodysplastic Syndromes. Clinical Cancer Research 10: 6830-6839.
  • Pearson, D.G & Nowell, G.M (2004). Re-Os and Lu-Hf isotope constraints on the origin and age of pyroxenites from the Beni Bousera peridotite massif: implications for mixed peridotite-pyroxenite melting models. Journal of Petrology 45(2): 439-455.
  • Dowall, D.P, Pearson, D.G & Nowell, G.M (2003). Chemical pre-concentration procedures for high-precision analysis of Hf-Nd-Sr isotopes in geological materials by plasma ionisation multi-collector mass spectrometry (PIMMS) techniques. Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry. Spec. Pub. Royal Society of Chemistry 321-337.
  • M.S.A. Horstwood, G.L. Foster, R.R. Parrish, S.R. Noble & G.M. Nowell (2003). Common-Pb corrected in-situ U-Pb accessory mineral geochronology by LA-MC-ICPMS. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 18: 837-846.
  • John, T., Ottley, C.J., Pearson, D.G., Nowell, G.M, Calvert, H & Tilby, M.J. (2003). Determination by ICP-MS, of background and BBR 3464 induced levels of platinum bound to DNA isolated from blood cells: A comparison of the sensitivity of the Perkin Elmer Sciex Elan 6000 and the ThermoFinnigan Neptune Instruments. Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry. Spec. Pub. Royal Society of Chemistry 82-90.
  • Day, J. M. D, Pearson, D. G. & Nowell, G.M (2003). High precision rhenium and platinum isotope dilution analyses by plasma ionisation multi-collector mass spectromtery. Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry. Spec. Pub. Royal Society of Chemistry 374-390.
  • Nowell, G.M, Pearson, D.G, Ottley, C. J, Schweiters, J & Dowall D (2003). Long-term performance characteristics of a plasma ionisation multi-collector mass spectrometer (PIMMS): the ThermoFinnigan Neptune. Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry. Spec. Pub. Royal Society of Chemistry 307-320.
  • Pearson, D. G & Nowell, G.M (2003). Measurement of Os isotopes using plasma ionisation multi-collector mass spectrometry and a suggested scheme for the accurate determination of interfering element ratios. Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry. Spec. Pub. Royal Society of Chemistry 362-373.
  • John, T, Ottley, C.J, Pearson, D.G, Nowell, G.M, Calvert, H & Tilby, M (2003). Sensitive determination of BBR 3464 and cisplatin DNA adduct levels in clinical samples using ICP-MS and PIMMS. British Journal of Cancer 88.
  • Nowell, G.M. & Parrish, R.R. (2002). Simultaneous acquisition of isotope compositions and parent/daughter ratios by non-isotope dilution solution-mode Plasma ionisation Multi-collector Mass Spectrometry (PIMMS). Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry The New Millenium 298-310.
  • Pearson, D.G. & Nowell, G.M (2002). The continental lithospheric mantle: characteristics and significance as a mantle reservoir. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 360(1800): 2383-2410.
  • Carlson, R. W. & Nowell, G.M (2001). Olivine-poor sources for mantle-derived magmas: Os and Hf isotopic evidence from potassic magmas of the Colorado Plateau. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 2(6): 2000GC000128.
  • Schaefer, B. F., Turner, S. P., Rogers, N. W., Hawkesworth, C. J., Williams, H. M., Pearson, D. G. & Nowell, G. M. (2000). Re-Os isotope characteristics of postorogenic lavas: Implications for the nature of young lithospheric mantle and its contribution to basaltic magmas. Geology 28(6): 563-566.

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