Axel Hofmann

Associate Professor
Department of Geology
University of Johannesburg


Axel Hofmann holds a doctorate from the University of Mainz in Germany and has worked as a researcher and lecturer at the universities of Zimbabwe, Witwatersrand, and KwaZulu-Natal. He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg. His main interest and expertise are centred on the Archaean geological record of southern Africa. His research combines fieldwork with petrological and geochemical analysis to decipher the geological history of Archaean volcano-sedimentary successions.


Archaean surface processes, evolution of greenstone belts, geochemistry of sedimentary rocks, sediment-hosted ore deposits, habitat of early life.

Fields of study

The research project investigates the geological record of Palaeoarchaean marine/hydrothermal conditions and associated habitats of early life. The work will make use of the drill core obtained in 2012 from the ICDP-funded Barberton drilling project in South Africa. Drill core BARB3 of the c. 3.4-billion-year-old Buck Reef Chert consists of different types of chert lithofacies, organic-rich shale, and siderite-bearing banded iron formation. Variations in the abundance and type of organic matter, sulphides, and Fe-bearing carbonates in specific intervals or associated with specific sedimentary facies reflect changes in the oceanic, environmental and/or hydrothermal conditions in uniquely preserved, shallow marine Archaean settings. This interdisciplinary study of biogeochemical systems operating 3.4 Ga ago focuses on the impacts of the evolution of life on surface processes using modern geochemical concepts and techniques. In-situ mineralogical studies and trace-element and stable isotope geochemistry of chemical sedimentary rocks and hydrothermal precipitates will provide insights into the habitat of early life, geochemical cycles, and marine/hydrothermal conditions in the Earth distant past.

Awards and recognition

  • Fellow of the GSSA, NRF rated researcher (B2)
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