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Dr Gautier Nicoli

Dr Gautier Nicoli

Metamorphic and Igneous Petrology

Gautier Nicoli is available for consultancy.

Department of Earth Sciences
Office M07
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333474

Research Interests

Magmatic intrusions are the foundations of continent building. My research concentrates on the chemical and physical properties that control magma genesis, crystallization processes and impacts on the stabilization of the Earth’s crust.

My doctoral research focused on the chemical differentiation of the continental crust with emphasis on the link between the magma, its source and the resulting intrusion. During my postdoctoral career, I have used data from my PhD to develop a method to highlight global tectonic setting changes influencing the shape of the continental landmass. The principal aim of my current research is to quantify the processes operating during the solidification of mafic intrusions in the crust (sills, dykes and lava flows) using microstructural observations and particle size distribution.

Magma forming the mafic intrusion consists of a carrier liquid and a crystal cargo originating from the mushy zone of a magma chamber. When emplaced in the crust, the mechanisms that drive crystallization of the magma are recorded in the shape and the grain size distribution through the entire thickness of the intrusion. Key development of my work includes (i) testing of parameters that control convection during magma crystallization in an entire sill population and application of this method on (ii) primitive lava flow (komatiite) and (iii) larger scale processes such as the crystallization of early magma oceans using analogue experiments.


Petrology ; Microscopy ; Volcanology ; Geochemistry ; microstructure


  • Textural development in crystal mush
  • Icelandic Magmatism
  • Layered intrusions
  • Volcanology
  • Igneous petrology
  • Liquid immiscibility

Key Publications

In prep:

Nicoli, G., Holness, M.B., Maclennan, J. & Matthews, S. (in prep) The Little Minch Sill Complex’s plumbing system, Scotland: a phase equilibria perspective. For Lithos.

Nicoli, G., Holness, M.B., Maclennan, J. & Neufeld, J. (in-prep) Crystallisation processes in tabular mafic intrusions: Insights from particle size distributions in the Little Minch Sill Complex. for EPSL.

Nicoli, G., Vukmanovic, Z. Neufeld, J. & Holness, M.B. (in-prep) Early nucleation and crystal growth in mafic intrusions and lava flows: insights from NH4Cl-H2O experiments. for Journal of Fluid Mechanics.


Nicoli, G., Holness, M.B., Neufeld, J. and Farr, R. (in-press) Microstructural evidence for crystallization regimes in mafic intrusions: a case study from the Little Minch Sill Complex, Scotland, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. DOI: 10.1007/s00410-018-1525-7

Vezinet, A., Moyen, J. F., Stevens, G., Nicoli, G., Laurent, O., Couzinié, S., & Frei, D. (2017). A record of 0.5 Ga of evolution of the continental crust along the northern edge of the Kaapvaal Craton, South Africa: Consequences for the understanding of Archean geodynamic processes. Precambrian Research.

Nicoli, G. & Dyck B. Exploring the metamorphic consequences of secular change in the siliciclastic compositions of continental margins. Geoscience Frontiers - Special Issue (in press).

Nicoli, G., Thomassot, E., Schannor, M., Vezinet, A., & Jovovic, I. (2017). Constraining a Precambrian Wilson Cycle lifespan: An example from the ca. 1.8 Ga Nagssugtoqidian Orogen, Southeastern Greenland. Lithos DOI: 10.1016/j.lithos.2017.10.017

Nicoli, G., Stevens, G., Moyen, J. F., Vezinet, A., & Mayne, M. Insights into the complexity of crustal differentiation: K2O‐poor leucosomes within metasedimentary migmatites from the Southern Marginal Zone of the Limpopo Belt, South Africa. Journal of Metamorphic Geology DOI: 10.1111/jmg.12265.

Nicoli, G., Steven,s G. & Moyen, J-F, 2016. Diversity of burial rates in convergent settings with time . Scientific Reports, 6.

Laurent O., Nicoli G., Zeh A., Stevens G., Moyen J–F. & Vezinet A., 2014. Comment on Ultrahigh-temperature granulites and magnesian charnockites: evidence for the Neoarchean accretion along the northern margin of the Kaapvaal craton by Rajesh et al. Precambrian Research DOI: 10.1016/j.precamres.2014.07.010.

Nicoli G., Stevens G., Moyen J–F. & Frei D., 2014. Rapid evolution from sediment to anatectic granulite in an Archean continental collision zone: The example of the Bandelierkop Formation metapelites, South Marginal Zone, Limpopo Belt, South Africa. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, DOI: 10.1111/jmg.12116.

Nicoli G., Stevens G., Buick I.S., & Moyen J–F., 2015. Comment on Ultrahightemperature metamorphism from an unsual corundum + orthopyroxene intergrowth bearing Al-Mg granulite from the Southern Marginal Zone, Limpopo Belt, South Africa. Contribution to Mineralogy and Petrology, DOI: 10.1007/s00410-014-1022-6.

Taylor J., Nicoli G., Stevens G., Frei D. & Moyen J–F., 2014. The processes that control leucosome compositions in metasedimentary granulites: Perspectives from the Limpopo Belt (South Africa) South Marginal Zone anatectites. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, DOI: 10.1111/jmg.12087.

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