Prof Adrian Finch

Prof Adrian Finch
Professor; Examinations Officer


My research is underpinned by using the geochemistry of minerals to reconstruct past conditions, either in magmatic, metamorphic or environmental systems. I particularly use isotope geochemical methods and the physical properties of minerals to determine how they formed and to extract geologically relevant information (such as magma or hydrothermal fluid compositions). My research has involved technique development (particularly in mineral spectroscopy) and I have a reputation for working in Arctic environments.

I commonly consult for Exploration geology companies.



Understanding the origins and mobility of rare elements such as niobium, zirconium and rare earths associated with alkaline magmatism. I have studied a variety of alkaline and peralkaline igneous rocks including syenite, nepheline syenite, lujavrite and carbonatite. My work has sought to understand more fully the mechanisms by which rare metals, such as rare earth elements, become concentrated in magmas, and how late-stage post-crystallisation processes modify and mobilise elements. This work involves studies of the mobility of rare earths and high field-strength elements such as zirconium, hafnium, niobium and tantalum. I am part of two consortia, HiTech AlkCarb and SoS RARE.

I consult for a number of Exploration Geology companies interested in the petrology and petrogenesis of alkaline rocks and rare elements.

The physical properties of minerals as a tool for provenance and geological history, particularly in gem materials using luminescence techniques. I have links with several gem and gem-testing laboratories, supported by the Facility for the Luminescence of Minerals at St Andrews University.

The geochemistry of biominerals as archives for past climate in collaboration with Dr Nicola Allison. This research has been funded by several Research Council grants.

My research group (‘the A-team’) past and present is listed here. Current staff include Dr Will Hutchison, Dr Anouk Borst and my current PhD students are Nicky Horsburgh and Kris Sokol.


Current: Professor of Geology, specialising in Mineralogy and Petrology,

2000-2003 Personal Research Fellowship from Royal Society of Edinburgh

2011-2014 Head of Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences

2012-2014 Co-Head of School of Geography & Geosciences

2010-2011 ProDean of Postgraduate Affairs, Faculty of Sciences

2007 Vice President of Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland

source: symbiosis


Recent publications listed in research@st-andrews
Townsend, PD, Finch, AA, Maghrabi, M, Ramachandran, V, Vázquez, GV, Wang, Y & White, DR 2017, 'Spectral changes and wavelength dependent thermoluminescence of rare earth ions after X-ray irradiation' Journal of Luminescence, vol 192, pp. 574-581. DOI: 10.1016/j.jlumin.2017.07.041
Borst, AM, Mortensen, HF & Finch, AA 2016, 'Optimising the REE-Zr-Nb potential of eudialyte and its alteration products in the Ilímaussaq complex, South Greenland' Mineral deposit study group , Bristol, United Kingdom, 19/12/16 - 21/12/16, pp. 18.
Borst, AM, Mortensen, HF & Finch, AA 2016, 'Optimising the REE-Zr-Nb potential of eudialyte and its alteration products in the Ilímaussaq complex, South Greenland' Mineral deposit study group , Bristol, United Kingdom, 19/12/16 - 21/12/16, .
Smith, MP, Moore, K, Kavecsánszki , D, Finch, AA, Kynicky, J & Wall, F 2016, 'From mantle to critical zone: a review of large and giant sized deposits of the rare earth elements ' Geoscience Frontiers, vol 7, no. 3, pp. 315-334. DOI: 10.1016/j.gsf.2015.12.006
Wang, Y, Zhao, Y, Zhang, Z, Zhao, C, Wu, X, Finch, AA & Townsend, PD 2015, 'Energy dependence of radioluminescence spectra from strontium titanate' Journal of Luminescence, vol 166, pp. 17-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.jlumin.2015.04.046
Taylor, RP, Finch, AA, Donaldson, CH & Mosselmans, FJ 2011, 'Applications of fluorescence in gemology' Gems and Gemology, vol 47, no. 2, pp. 125-125.
Cusack, M, Perez-Huerta, A, Janousch, M & Finch, AA 2008, 'Magnesium in the lattice of calcite-shelled brachiopods' Chemical Geology, vol 257, no. 1-2, pp. 59-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2008.08.007

Contact Details:

Prof Adrian Finch
Irvine Building
University of St Andrews
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

tel: +44 01334 462384
fax: +44 01334 463949
room: 421



Scottish Oceans Institute
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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The Secretary
Scottish Oceans Institute
Institiud Chuantan na h-Alba
Gatty Marine Laboratory
East Sands St Andrews
KY16 8LB

tel: +44 (0) 1334 463472
fax: +44 (0) 1334 463443