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Prof. Chris Harris

Philipson Stow Professor of Mineralogy and Geology

Igneous petrology and stable isotope geochemistry
Room 311
Department of Geological Sciences​
Ph:  +27 (0)21 650 2921
Fax:  +27 (0)21 650 3783


Websites:  Stable Isotope Laboratory, Stable Light Isotope Laboratory (Archaeology)


The application of stable isotopes to igneous petrology, hydrology, and economic geology. The Bushveld Complex, the Karoo large igneous province, Mesozoic igneous complexes in Namibia and Madagascar, low δ18O magmas, calcrete and lake sediments as palaeoclimate proxies, Koegel Fontein igneous complex. Breccia pipes, peralkaline granites, O-isotope composition of magmatic garnet, Cape Town precipitation and groundwater.


Selected Recent Publications (last 3 years)

Harris C., Buthelezi N., Kahle B., Kahle R., Ramahala K., Smith G. (2019) Stable isotope constraints on the fluid source of hydrothermal breccia pipes in the Tankwa Karoo depocentre, South Africa: Breakdown of authigenic minerals during sill intrusion. Basin Research, 31,114–135.

Stowe, M-J, Harris, C., Hedding, D.W., Eckardt, F.D., and Nel, W. (2018) Hydrogen and oxygen isotope composition of precipitation and stream water on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Antarctic Science 30 (2), 83-92

Troch, J., Ellis, B.S., Harris, C., Ulmer, P. and Bachmann, O. (2018) The effect of prior hydrothermal alteration on the melting behaviour during rhyolite formation in Yellowstone, and its importance in the generation of low-δ18Omagmas. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 481, 338–349.

Fagereng, A., Diener, J.F.A., Meneghini, F., Harris, C., and Kvadsheim, A. (2018) Quartz vein formation by local dehydration embrittlement along the deep, tremorgenic subduction thrust interface. Geology 46, 67–70.

Olianti, C.A.E., and Harris, C. (2018) A low-δ18O intrusive breccia from Koegel Fontein, South Africa: Remobilisation of basement that was hydrothermally altered during global glaciation? Lithos 300–301, 33–50.

Harris, C., Dreyer, T. and le Roux, P. (2018) Petrogenesis of peralkaline granite dykes of the Straumsvola complex, western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 173:8.

Harris, C., Mulder, K., Sarkar, S., Whitehead, B., Roopnarain, S. (2018) Petrogenesis of low-δ18O quartz porphyry dykes, Koegel Fontein complex, South Africa. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology  173:30.

da Costa, FG, EL Klein, C Harris, S Roopnarain (2019) Fluid inclusion and stable isotope (O, H, C) constraints on the genesis of the Pedra Branca gold deposit, Troia Massif, Borborema Province, NE Brazil: an example of hypozonal orogenic gold mineralization. Ore Geology Reviews 107, 476–500.

Radu IB, C Harris, BN Moine, G Costin, JY Cottin (2019) Subduction relics in the subcontinental lithospheric mantle evidence from variation in the δ18O value of eclogite xenoliths from the Kaapvaal craton. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 174 (3), 19

Fitzpayne A, A Giuliani, C Harris, E Thomassot, C Cheng, J Hergt (2019) Evidence for subduction-related signatures in the southern African lithosphere from the NO isotopic composition of metasomatic mantle minerals. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 266, 237–257

Troll, V.R., Weis, F., Jonsson, E., Andersson, U., Majidi, S., Högdahl, K., Harris, C., Millet, M.-A., Chinnasamy, S., Kooijman, E., and Nilsson, K. (2019) Global Fe-O isotope correlation reveals magmatic origin of Kiruna-type apatite-iron-oxide ores. Nature Communications 10:1712

Howarth, G.H., Moore, A.E., Harris, C., van der Meer, Q.H.A., le Roux, P.J. (2019) Crustal versus mantle origin of carbonate xenoliths from Kimberley region kimberlites using Sr-Nd-Pb-C-O isotopes and trace elements. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 266, 258–273

Diamond, R.E. and Harris C. (2019) Annual shifts in O- and H-isotope composition as measures of recharge: the case of the Table Mountain springs, Cape Town, South Africa. Hydrogeology Journal 27, 2993–3008

Troch, J., Ellis, B.S., Harris, C., Ulmer, P., Bouvier, A-S., Bachmann, O. (2019) Experimental melting of hydrothermally altered rocks: Constraints for the generation of low-δ18O rhyolites in the central Snake River Plain. Journal of Petrology 60, 1881–1902

González-Maurel, O., Deegan, F.M., le Roux, P., Harris, C., Troll, V.R., and Godoy, B. (2020) Constraining the sub-arc, parental magma composition for the giant Altiplano-Puna Volcanic Complex, northern Chile. Scientific Reports 10:6864.

Whitehead, B.A., Harris, C. and Sloan, R.A. (2020) Deep infiltration of surface water during deformation? Evidence from a low- δ18O shear zone at Koegel Fontein, Namaqualand, South Africa. Lithos 366–367, 105562

Buono, G., Pappalardo, L., Harris, C., Edwards, B.R., Petrosino, P. (2020) Magmatic stoping during the caldera-forming Pomici di Base eruption (Somma-Vesuvius, Italy) as a fuel of eruption explosivity. Lithos 370–371, 105628

Ashworth, L., Kinnaird, J.A., Nex, P.A.M. Harris C., Müller, A.B. (2020) Origin of rare-element-mineralized Damara Belt pegmatites: A geochemical and light stable isotope study. Lithos 372–373, 105655

de Wet, R.F., West, A.G. and Chris Harris (2020) Seasonal variation in tap water δ2H and δ18O isotopes reveals two tap water worlds. Scientific Reports 10, 13544

Troch, J. Ellis, B.S., Harris, C., Bachmann, O., Bindeman, I.N. (2020) Low-δ18O silicic magmas on Earth: A review. Earth Science Reviews 208, 103299

Ódri, A., Harris, C. and le Roux, P. (2020) The role of crustal contamination in the petrogenesis of nepheline-syenite to granite magmas in the Ditrău Complex, Romania: evidence from O-, Nd-, Sr- and Pb-isotopes, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 175, 100

Wiedenbeck M., Trumbull, R.B., Rosner, M., Boyce A., Fournelle, J.F., Franchi, I., Halama, R., Harris, C., Lacey, J.H., Marschall, H., Meixner, A., Pack, A., Pogge von Strandmann, P.A.E., Spicuzza, M.J., Valley, J.W., Wilke, F. (2021) Tourmaline reference materials for the in situ analysis of oxygen and lithium isotope ratio compositions. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research





  • MA Oxford University, 1984
  • DPhil Oxford University 1982
  • BA (Hons) Geology, Oxford University 1979


  • Professor, University of Cape Town, 2008-present
  • Head, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town 2006-2010 and currently
  • Associate Professor, University of Cape Town 2003-2007
  • Professeur, Universite Jean Monet, St-Etienne, France 2000-2003
  • Associate Professor, University of Cape Town 1999-2000
  • Senior Lecturer University of Cape Town, 1994-1999
  • Researcher University of Cape Town 1984-1993
  • Departmental Demonstrator in Mineralogy, Oxford University 1984
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, CRPG, Nancy, France, 1983

Professional Affiliations

  • Fellow, Geological Society of South Africa
  • Member of Society of Economic Geologists
  • Member of Royal Society of South Africa
  • Editorial boards: Lithos, Journal of the Brazilian Geological Survey, Geochemistry of Ore Deposits (Iran)