Department of Geological Sciences Kimberlite Research Unit
  Louis Ahrens Building, Library Road Kaapvaal Craton Project
  University of Cape Town
  Rondebosch, 7701, RSA  
  Room 401  
  ph: #27 (0)21 650 2916/2659  
  fax: #27 (0)21 650 3783  
  Biography Research Publications Teaching Students Personal  

  • BSc(Hons) University of Cape Town, 1977.
  • PhD Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1984.
  • Associate Professor, University of Cape Town, since 2002
  • Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town, 1994-2001.
  • Senior Research Officer, University of Cape Town, 1987-1993.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 1984-1986.
Research Appointments
  • Visiting Investigator, DTM, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1999-date
  • Guest Investigator, Geology & Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1999
  • Visiting Scientist, Dept of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences, MIT, 1987, 1985

  • Episodic diamond genesis and Archean craton evolution
  • Continental mantle signature of Bushveld magmas and PGE ores
  • Re-Os isotope system in sulfides; Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr systems in silicates
  • Single zircon U-Th-Pb and phlogopite Rb-Sr geochronology of kimberlites
  • Geochemistry of kimberlites, megacrysts, peridotites, eclogites, and diamonds
Archean cratons contain a major share of the world's precious metal and diamond mineralization. In particular, the Kaapvaal craton hosts not only the largest known gold and platinum deposits, the ca. 2.9 Ga Witwatersrand Basin and the 2.05 Ga Bushveld Complex, but also some of the economically most significant diamond deposits in surrounding kimberlite pipes. Sulfide and silicate inclusion-bearing diamonds entrained by these kimberlites present a unique opportunity to characterize the lithospheric mantle encountered by Bushveld magmas en route to emplacement in the crust.

Sulfide inclusions in ca. 2.0 Ga diamonds from Venetia and Premier show initial Os isotope ratios even more radiogenic than those of Bushveld platinum group element (PGE) sulfide ore minerals. When combined with the Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr isotope compositions of garnet inclusions and macrocrysts, this suggests that continental mantle harzburgite and eclogite components, in addition to an original convecting mantle component, most likely contributed to the genesis of both the diamonds and the Bushveld Complex. This multi-component subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) contamination model may also apply to other PGE-enriched intrusions, given the harzburgitic and eclogitic affinities of the ultramafic versus tholeiitic (or anorthositic) parental magma types variously recognized in the 2.7 Ga Stillwater Complex (Wyoming craton), 2.5 Ga Great Dyke (Zimbabwe craton) and 1.3 Ga Muskox Intrusion (Slave craton). Indeed, SCLM contamination may be a general feature of continental mafic magmatism and will be the focus of ongoing research.


Richardson SH, and Shirey SB (2008) Continental mantle signature of Bushveld magmas and coeval diamonds. Nature 453, 910-913.

Westerlund, KJ, Shirey, SB, Richardson, SH, Carlson, RW, Gurrney, JJ and Harris JW (2006) A subduction wedge origin for Paleoarchean peridotitic diamonds and harzburgites from the Panda kimberlite, Slave craton: evidence from Re-Os isotope systematics. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 152, 275-294.

Richardson, SH, Shirey SB, and Harris JW (2004) Episodic diamond genesis at Jwaneng, Botswana, and implications for Kaapvaal craton evolution. Lithos 77, 143-154.

Shirey, SB, Harris, JW, Richardson SH, Fouch, MJ, James, D, Cartigny, P, Deines, P, Viljoen, F (2002) Diamond genesis, seismic structure, and evolution of the Kaapvaal-Zimbabwe craton. Science 297, 1683-1686.

Richardson, SH, Shirey, SB, Harris, JW, Carlson, RW (2001) Archean subduction recorded by Re-Os isotopes in eclogitic sulfide inclusions in Kimberley diamonds. Earth Planet Sci Lett 191, 239-248.

Richardson, SH and Harris, JW (1997) Antiquity of peridotitic diamonds from the Siberian craton. Earth Planet Sci Lett 151, 271-277.

Richardson, SH, Harris, JW and Gurney, JJ (1993) Three generations of diamonds from old continental mantle. Nature 366, 256-258.

Richardson, SH, Erlank, AJ, Harris, JW and Hart, SR (1990) Eclogitic diamonds of Proterozoic age from Cretaceous kimberlites. Nature 346, 54-56.

Richardson, SH (1986) Latter-day origin of diamonds of eclogitic paragenesis. Nature 322, 623-626.

Richardson, SH, Gurney, JJ, Erlank, AJ and Harris, JW (1984) Origin of diamonds in old enriched mantle. Nature 310, 198-202.


  • GEO2001F Mineralogy & Crystallography [course coordinator, 2002-date]
  • GEO3001S Stratigraphy & Economic Geology [geochronology section, 1994-date]
  • GEO4001W BSc (Honours) in Geochemistry [isotope geochemistry module, 1991-date]


MSc students

Karen Smit
Supervisors: AP le Roex & SH Richardson
Thesis title: Re-Os isotope characterisation and nitrogen aggregation state of the off-craton Ellendale diamonds, Kimberley Province, Australia
Registered 2007

Kerryn Whitehead
Supervisors: SH Richardson & JJ Gurney
Thesis title: A geochemical study of diamonds from the Cullinan diamond mine, South Africa
Graduated 2005

Neil McKenna
Supervisors: JJ Gurney & SH Richardson
Thesis title: A study of the diamonds, diamond inclusion minerals and other mantle minerals from the Swartruggens kimberlite, South Africa
Graduated 2002

Kalle Westerlund
Supervisors: JJ Gurney & SH Richardson
Thesis title: A geochemical study of diamonds, diamond inclusion minerals and other mantle minerals from the Klipspringer kimberlites, South Africa
Graduated 2000

Gail Kiviets
Supervisors: JJ Gurney & SH Richardson
Thesis title: A detailed geochemical investigation of diamond-bearing eclogite xenoliths from the Kaalvallei kimberlite, South Africa
Graduated 2000

PhD students

Kalle Westerlund
Supervisors: JJ Gurney & SH Richardson
Thesis title: A geochemical study of diamonds, sulfide inclusions in diamonds and mantle xenoliths from the Panda kimberlite, Slave craton
Graduated 2005

Ben Garden
Supervisors: JJ Gurney & SH Richardson
Thesis title: Modification of the SCLM during continent-continent collision: Re-Os isotopic evidence from the Bellsbank & Bobbejaan kimberlites, Kaapvaal craton, South Africa
Registered 2002

Andrew Menzies
Supervisors: JJ Gurney & SH Richardson
Thesis Title: A detailed investigation into diamond-bearing xenoliths from Newlands kimberlite, South Africa
Graduated 2001