The Hydrothermal Geochemistry Group at McGill University studies the behaviour of elements in aqueous and related fluids at elevated temperature and pressure, with a focus on the processes leading to the formation of economic mineral deposits. The main thrust of our research is thus to develop the genetic models that will ensure the future success of mineral exploration.  Many deposits form as a result of metal transport by fluids, mainly hydrothermal, and the subsequent precipitation of metals in response to changes in physico-chemical conditions. Our objectives are to determine the nature of these fluids, identify the factors which control their ability to dissolve metals, and establish the mechanisms which cause them to form ore deposits. In order to meet these objectives, we combine studies of natural systems, which can be used to reconstruct depositional environments, with experimental and theoretical studies designed to evaluate the behaviour of metals in fluids and model the processes of ore formation.

Major Projects

Some of our current, funded projects include:

  • Magmas, fluids, and critical metals
  • Genesis of the Separation Rapids petalite-lepidolite pegmatites as a guide to their exploration
  • A genetic model and geochemical exploration tools for magnetite-apatite REE deposits
  • Controls on the genesis of gold mineralisation in the Brucejack epithermal deposit, British Columbia
  • A genetic and exploration model for syenite-hosted scandium mineralisation
  • Controls on the concentration of lithium in oilfield brines
  • Petrogenesis and alteration associated with nickel mineralization in the Turnagain deposit, British Columbia
  • Genesis of the Fenelon gold deposit
  • Source region assessment of Witwatersrand mineralogy
  • Modelling of metamorphism of sediment-hosted zinc deposits
  • Thermodynamics of cobalt minerals and aqueous species, and modelling of hydrothermal Co ore formation
  • Metallogeny and models for grade/tonnage controls in SMS and VMS Cu-Zn deposits
  • The genesis and exploration of iron oxide-apatite REE mineralisation in the Kwijibo district, Quebec
  • Development of a genetic model to guide cobalt exploration in the Cobalt-Gowganda mining district
  • Experimental study on oxidative weathering and metal leaching of marine polymetallic massive sulphides
  • A genetic model and exploration tools for pegmatite-hosted lithium mineralisation

We welcome new ideas and projects, and encourage collaborations with industry to address geological problems associated with mineral exploration.

News and Announcements

Recent Beer Seminars:

  • Sep. 20, 2023.  Evan Slater: Constraints on fluid origin and ore-forming processes at the Fenelon gold deposit
  • Apr. 19, 2023.  Kiera Broda:  Controls on Ni mineralization in the Alaskan-type Turnagain Complex, B.C.
  • Apr. 12, 2023.  Dom D'Amato: Metamorphic tourmaline geochemistry: experimental synthesis and thermometry
  • Feb. 8, 2023.  Kevin Ng: Petrogenesis of carbonate-related electrum mineralization at Brucejack, B.C.
  • Feb. 2, 2023.  Kyle Henderson: Controls on the distribution of V in the shale-hosted Dempster deposit, Yukon
  • Dec. 8, 2022.  Evan Slater: Origin of gold mineralization at the Fenelon deposit, Quebec: S isotope evidence
  • Nov. 24, 2022.  Jake Tiong: Crater Lake Sc-REE deposit, Quebec
  • Nov. 10, 2022.  Keira Broda:  Magmatic and hydrothermal controls on Ni-Co at Turnagain, B.C.
  • Oct. 27, 2022.  Sarah Bodeving: Nature of Cs mineralization at the Lilypad Lakes pegmatite, Ontario
  • May 25, 2022.  Hui Zheng: Genesis of the Huayangchuan U-Nb-REE carbonatite deposit, central China

Recent PhD Defense:

  • Nov. 9, 2022.  Duncan McLeish:  The nature and origin of the bonanza-grade Brucejack epithermal Au-Ag deposit, northwestern British Columbia

Recent Awards/Honours:

  • A.E. Williams-Jones: Keynote lecture for session in honor of Hubert L. Barnes, Goldschmidt Conference 2023
  • D. McLeish: Best PhD poster award, PDAC-SEG Student Minerals Colloquium 2023
  • A.E. Williams-Jones: Keynote lecture, Québec Mines + Énergie 2022, Critical and Strategic Minerals session
  • N. Hurtig (with A. Migdisov and A.E. Williams-Jones): 2022 Skinner Award from the SEG for the most outstanding paper published in Economic Geology (v. 116, p. 1599–1624)
  • A.E. Williams-Jones: 2022 McGill nominee for the NSERC Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering
  • A.E. Williams-Jones: 2018 Penrose Gold Medal, Society of Economic Geologists, in recognition of a full career in the performance of outstanding work in the earth sciences
  • A.E. Williams-Jones: 2017 Mentorship Medal, Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences, for sustained and inspirational mentorship of students, colleagues and employees

Recent Scholarships:

  • J. Coté: 2023 Stewart Fellowship, EPS
  • A. Vigné: 2023 Leroy Fellowship, EPS
  • R. Collar: 2023 Prochnau Fellowship, EPS
  • G. Fung: 2023 Klein and Panneton Fellowship, EPS
  • E. Slater: 2023 Wares and Mountjoy Fellowships, EPS
  • J. Tiong: 2023 Howard and Wares Fellowships, EPS
  • K. Broda: 2023 Wares Fellowship, EPS
  • K. Ng: 2023 Prochnau Fellowship, EPS
  • K. Broda: 2023 Geoscience BC Scholarship


A.E. (Willy) Williams-Jones
Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences
McGill University
3450 University St., Rm. 238
Montreal, QC  H3A 0E8


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