Conall Mac Niocaill

Conall Mac Niocaill

Professor of Earth Sciences
Tel: +44 (0)1865 282135


I am a geologist, with a background in both geology and geophysics.  My major research focus lies in the application of palaeomagnetic tools to a variety of long-standing Earth Science problems.  These encompass palaeogeographic and plate tectonic reconstructions, Earth history and the development of the Caledonian and Variscan mountain belts, magnetostratigraphic dating of major episodes of environmental change in the Earth’s history (particularly those associated with large igneous provinces), the emplacement mechanisms of volcanic rocks, and the long-term behavior of the Earth’s magnetic field.  The approach required to make progress in these fields is, of necessity, a collaborative one, and a key facet of my research has been the integration of data from different disciplines in better understanding the relevant Earth processes.



1st Year – Fundamentals of Geology I – Mineralogy & Petrology
1st Year – Planet Earth
1st Year – Fundamentals of Geology II – Geological Maps

2nd Year – Geophysical Methods
2nd Year – Metamorphic Petrology
2nd Year – Geological Maps

4th Year – Rock-, Environmental-, and Palaeomagnetism

1st Year Field Course to Pembrokshire (4 days)
1st Year Field Course to Arran, Scotland (11 days)



I am the Associate Head of Department (Teaching)

I am also the Giuseppe Vernazza Fellow in Earth Sciences at Exeter College

Monographs / Edited Books / Special Volumes

  • McCausland, P.J, Murphy, J.B., & Mac Niocaill, C. (eds), 2006.  “Endings and Beginnings: Paleogeography, life and climate of the terminal Neoproterozoic through Cambrian time”, Precambrian Research, Special issue, 147, 233pp.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., Torsvik, T.H., & van der Pluijm, B.A. (eds), 2003.  “Paleomagnetism Applied to Tectonics”, Tectonophysics Special issue, 362, 366pp.
  • Mac Niocaill, C. & Ryan, P.D. (eds) 1999.  Continental Tectonics, Geological Society of London Special Publication, 164, 350pp


  • Gregory, L.C., Mac Niocaill, C., Walker, R.T., Bayasgalan, G., & Craig, T. 2018.  Vertical axis rotation (or lack thereof) of the eastern Mongolian Altay Mountains: implications for far-field transpressional mountain building.  Tectonophysics, 736, 31–46.
  • Xu, W., Mac Niocaill, C., Ruhl, M., Jenkyns, H.C., Riding, J.B., & Hesselbo, S.P. 2018.  Magnetostratigraphy of the Toarcian Stage (Lower Jurassic) of the Llanbedr (Mochras Farm) Borehole, Wales: basis for a global standard and implications for volcanic forcing of palaeoenvironmental change. Journal of the Geological Society,
  • Wilkinson, J.J., Vowles, K., Muxworthy, A.R., & Mac Niocaill, C. 2017.  Regional remagnetization of Irish Carboniferous Carbonates dates Variscan Orogenesis, not Zn-Pb Mineralization.  Geology, 45, 747-750. doi:10.1130/G39032.1
  • Jolley, D.W., Daly, R.J., Ebinghaus, A., Kemp, D.B., Gilmour, I., Mac Niocaill, C., & Kelley, S.P. 2017.  Centennial to decadal vegetation community changes linked to orbital and solar forcing during the Dan-C2 hyperthermal event. Journal of the Geological Society,
  • Døssing, A., Muxworthy, A.R., Supakulopas, R., Riihuus, M.S., & Mac Niocaill, C. 2016. High northern geomagnetic field behavior and new constraints on the Gilsa event: paleomagnetic and 40Ar/39Ar results of ~0.5 – 3.1Ma basalts from Jökuldalur, Iceland.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 414, 16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.09.022
  • Dodd, S., Muxworthy, A.R., & Mac Niocaill, C. 2015.  Paleointensity determinations from the Etendeka Province support a low magnetic field strength prior to the Cretaceous Normal Superchron.  Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 16 (3), 785-797. doi: 10.1002/2014GC005707
  • Dodd, S., Mac Niocaill, C., & Muxworthy, A.R. 2015.  Long Duration (>4Ma) Steady State volcanism in the early Cretaceous Paranã-Etendeka Large IgneousProvince.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 414, 16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.01.009
  • Gregory, L.C., Thomas, A.L., Walker, R.T., Garland, R., Mac Niocaill, C., Fenton, C., Schnabel, C., Bayasgalan, A., Amgaa, T., Gantulga, B., Rhodes, A., & Sheng Xu.  2014.  Combined uranium series and 10Be cosmogenic exposure dating of surface abandonment: a case study from the Ölgiy strike-slip fault in western Mongolia.  Quaternary Geochronology, 24, 27-42.  doi: 10.1016/j.quageo.2014.07.005
  • Bourne, M.D., Mac Niocaill, C., Thomas, A.L., & Henderson, G.M. 2013.  High Resolution record of the Laschamp geomagnetic excursion at the Blake-Bahama Outer Ridge. Geophysical Journal International, 195, 1529-1533.  doi: 10.1093/gji/ggt327
  • Mac Niocaill, C. 2013.  Calling card of a ghost continent.  Nature Geoscience N&V, 6, 165-166.
  • Servais, T., Cecca, F., Harper, D.A.T., Isozaki, & Mac Niocaill, C. 2013.  Palaeozoic palaeogeographical and palaeobiogeographical nomenclature.  In: Harper, D.A.T., & Servais, T.(eds) Early Palaeozoic Biogeography and Palaeogeography, Geological Society, London, Memoir, 38, 25-33.
  • Hesselbo, S.P., Bjerrum, C., Hinnov, L. Mac Niocaill, C., Miller, K., Riding, J., & Van de Schootbrugge, B. 2013.  Mochras Borehole Revisited: A New Global standard for Early Jurassic Earth History.  Scientific Drilling, 16, 81-91.  doi:10.5194/sd-16-81-2013
  • Bourne, M.D., Thomas, A.L., Mac Niocaill, C. & Henderson, G.M. 2012.  Improved determination of 230Thxs in marine cores.  Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 13, Q09017, doi:10.1029/2012GC004295
  • Brown, R.J., Manya, S., Buisman, I., Fontana, G., Field, M., Mac Niocaill, C., Sparks, R.S.J., Stuart, F.M. 2012.  Physical Volcanology, Geomorphology, and Cosmogenic 3He dating of the youngest Kimberlite volcanoes on Earth (The Holocene Igwisi Hills Volcanoes, Tanzania).  Bulletin of Volcanology, 74, 1621-1643.  doi:10.1007/s00445-012-0619-8.
  • Torsvik, T.H., Van der Voo, R., Preeden, U., Mac Niocaill, C., Steinberger, B., Doubrovine, P.V., van Hinsbergen, D.J.J., Domeir, M., Gaina, C., Tohver, E., Meert, J.G., McCausland, P.J.A., & Cocks, L.R.M. 2012. Phanerozoic Polar Wander, Palaeogeography and Dynamics.  Earth Science Reviews, 114, 325-368.  doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.06.007
  • Bourne, M., Mac Niocaill, C., Thomas, A.L., Knudsen, M.F., & Henderson, G.M. 2012.  Rapid directional changes associated with a 6.5 kyr-long Blake geomagnetic excursion at the Blake-Bahama Outer Ridge.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 333-334, 21-34.  doi:10.1016/j/epsl.2012.04.017.
  • Randall, K., Lamb, S.H., & Mac Niocaill, C. 2011  Paleomagnetic evidence for Late Cenozoic regional and large-scale clockwise rotation of the southern end of the Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand, Tectonophysics, 509, 165-180. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2011.05.006
  • Papanikolaou, M., Triantaphyllou, M., Platzman, E., Gibbard, P., Mac Niocaill, C., & Head, M. 2011.  A well established Early – Middle Pleistocene marine sequence on SE Zakynthos island, Western Greece: magneto-bio stratigraphic constraints and palaeoclimatic implications.  Journal of Quaternary Science, 26, 523-540. doi:10.1002/jqs.1462
  • Stouge, S., Christiansen, J.L., Harper, D.A.T., Houmark-Nielsen, M., Kristiansen, K., Mac Niocaill, C., & Buchardt-Westergård, B.  2011.  Neoproterozoic (Cryogenian – Edicarian) deposits in North-East Greenland.  In: Arnaud, E., Halvorsen, G.p., & Shields-Zhou, G.(eds) The Geological Record of Neopreoterozoic Glaciation, Geological Society, London, Memoir, 36, 581-592.
  • Fontana, G.A., Mac Niocaill, C., Brown, R.J., Sparks, R.S.J., Field, M. & Gernon, T. 2011.  Emplacement temperatures of pyroclastic and volcaniclastic deposits in kimberlite pipes in southern Africa.  Bulletin of Volcanology, 73, 1063-1083.  Doi:10.1007/s00445-011-0493-9.
  • Dawber, C.F., Tripati, A.K., Gale, A.S., Mac Niocaill, C., & Hesselbo, S.P. 2011.  Glacioeustasy during the middle Eocene?  Insights from the stratigraphy of the Hampshire Basin, UK.  Paleogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 300, 84-100. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.12.012
  • Iosifidi, A., Mac Niocaill, C., Khramov, A., Dekkers, M. & Popov, V. 2010.  Palaeogeographical implications of differential inclination shallowing in Permo Carboniferous sediments of the Donets Basin, Ukraine. Tectonophysics, 490, 229-240. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2010.05.017
  • Paterson, G.A., Muxworthy, A.R., Roberts, A.P., & Mac Niocaill, C.  2010.  Assessment of the usefulness of Lithic Clasts from Pyroclastic deposits for Paleointensity determination.  Journal of Geophysical Research B03104, doi:10.1029/2009JB006475.
  • Paterson, G.A., Roberts, A.P., Mac Niocaill, C., Muxworthy, A.R., Gurioli, L., Viramonte, J.G., Navarro, C., & Weider, S.  2010. Palaeomagnetic determination of emplacement temperatures of pyroclastic deposits: an underutilised tool. Bulletin of Volcanology, 72, 309-330.  doi:10.1007/s00445-009-0324-4
  • Gernon, T.M., Fontana, G., Field, M., Sparks, R.S.J., Brown, R.J., & Mac Niocaill C. 2009.  Pyroclastic flow deposits from a Kimberlite eruption: The Orapa South Crater, Botswana. Lithos, 112S, 566-578.  doi:10.1016/j.lithos.2009.04.016
  • Jay, A., Mac Niocaill, C., Self, S., Widdowson, M., & Turner, W. 2009.  New Palaeomagnetic data from the Mahabaleshwar Plateau, Deccan Flood Basalt Province, India: Implications for the Volcanostratigraphic Architecture of Continental Flood Basalt Provinces.  Journal of the Geological Society, London, 166, 13-24.
  • Rotman, R., Naylor, L., McDonnell, R., & Mac Niocaill, C. 2008.  Sediment transport on the Freiston Shore Managed Realignment Site: an investigation using environmental magnetism.  Geomorphology, 100, 241-255.  doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.12.006
  • Knudsen, M.F., Henderson, G.M., Frank, M., Mac Niocaill, C., & Kubik, P. 2008. In-phase anomalies in Beryllium-10 production and palaeomagnetic field behaviour during the Iceland Basin geomagnetic excursion.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 265, 5880599.  doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2007.10.051.
  • Knudsen, M.F., Henderson, G.M., Mac Niocaill, C., & West, A.J. 2007. Seven thousand year duration for a geomagnetic excursion constrained by 230Thxs.  Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L22302, doi:10.1029/2007GL031090.
  • Porreca, M., Mattei, M., Mac Niocaill, C., Giordano, G., McClelland, E., & Funicello, R.  2007.  Paleomagnetic evidence for low-temperature emplacement of the phreatomagmatic Peperino Albano ignimbrite (Colli Albani volcano, Central Italy).  Bulletin of Volcanology70, 877-893. doi:10.1007/s00445-007-0176-8
  • Barke, R., Lamb, S.H., & Mac Niocaill, C.  2007.  Late Cenozoic bending of the Bolivian Andes: New palaeomagnetic and kinematic constraints.  Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, 1-22. doi:10.1029/2006JB004372.
  • Knudsen, M.F., Mac Niocaill, C., & Henderson, G.M. 2006.  High-resolution data of the Iceland Basin geomagnetic excursion from ODP sites 1063 and 983: existence of intense flux patches during the excursion? Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 251, 18-32 doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2006.08.016.
  • McCausland, P.J.A., Murphy, J.B. & Mac Niocaill, C. 2006.  Preface – Endings and Beginnings: Paleogeography of the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition.  Precambrian Research, 147, 187-192.
  • Kilner, B., Mac Niocaill, C.¸ & Brasier, M. 2005.  Low-latitude glaciation in the Neoproterozoic of Oman. Geology, 33, 413-416.
  • Randall, D.E., & Mac Niocaill, C.  2004.  Cambrian Palaeomagnetic Data Confirm a Natal Embayment location for the Ellsworth-Whitmore Mountains, Antarctica, in Gondwana Reconstructions.  Geophysical Journal International, 157, 105-116.
  • Hall, L., Lamb, S.H., & Mac Niocaill, C.  2004.  Cenozoic Distributed Deformation, South Island, New Zealand. Tectonics, 23, TC2002, doi:10.1029/2002TC001421.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., Torsvik, T.H., & van der Pluijm, B.A. 2003.  Preface – Paleomagnetism applied to Tectonics.  Tectonophysics, 362, vii-x.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., van der Pluijm, B.A., Van der Voo, R., & McNamara, A.K. 2002.  Discussion on: West African proximity of Avalon in the latest Precambrian – reply. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 114, 1051-1052.
  • Harper, D.A.T. & Mac Niocaill, C. 2002.  Early Ordovician rhynchonelliformean brachipod diversity: comparing some platforms, margins and intra-oceanic sites around the Iapetus Ocean.  In: Crame, A., & Owen, A.W. (eds) Palaeobiogeography and Biodiversity Change: a comparison of the Ordovician and Mesozoic-Cenozoic Radiations, Geological Society of London Special Publication, 194, 25-34.
  • McNamara, A.K., Mac Niocaill, C., van der Pluijm, B.A., & Van der Voo, R. 2001.  West African proximity of Avalon in the latest Precambrian. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 113, 1161-1170.
  • Jones, D.L., Duncan, R.A., Briden, J.C., Randall, D., & Mac Niocaill, C.  2001.  The age of the Batoka basalts, northern Zimbabwe, and the duration of Karoo Large Igneous Province Magmatism. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 2, Paper No. 2000GC000110.
  • Mac Niocaill, C. 2000.  A new Silurian palaeolatitude for eastern Avalonia and evidence for crustal rotations in the Avalonian margin of southwestern Ireland.  Geophysical Journal International, 141, 661-671.
  • Mac Niocaill, C. 2000.  Escape Tectonics. In: Hancock, P.L. & Skinner, B.J. (eds) The Oxford Companion to the Earth, Oxford University Press, 319-320.
  • Mac Niocaill, C. 2000.  Exotic Terranes. In: Hancock, P.L. & Skinner, B.J. (eds) The Oxford Companion to the Earth, Oxford University Press, 330-331.
  • McKerrow, W.S., Mac Niocaill, C., & Dewey, J.F.  2000.  The Caledonian orogeny redefined. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 157, 1149-1154.
  • McKerrow, W.S., Mac Niocaill, C., Alberg, P., Clayton, G., Cleel, C. & Eagar, M. 2000.  The Late Palaeozoic relations between Gondwana and Laurussia.  In: Franke, W., Haak, V., Oncken, O., & Tanner, D. (eds) Orogenic Processes – Quantification And Modelling In The Variscan Belt, Geological Society of London Special Publication, 179, 9-20.
  • Ryan, P.D. & Mac Niocaill, C. 1999.  Continental Tectonics: An Introduction.  in Mac Niocaill, C. & Ryan, P.D.  Continental Tectonics, Geological Society of London Special Publication, 164, 1-5.
  • Marcano, M.C., Van der Voo, R., & Mac Niocaill, C. 1999.  True Polar Wander during the Permo-Triassic.  Journal of Geodynamics, 28, 75-95.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., Smethurst, M. A., & Ryan, P.D. 1998.  Oroclinal bending in the Caledonides of western Ireland: a mid-Paleozoic feature controlled by a pre-existing structural grain.  Tectonophysics, 299, 31-47.
  • Van Staal, C. R., Dewey, J. F., Mac Niocaill, C, & McKerrow, W. S. 1998.  The tectonic evolution of the Northern Appalachians and British Caledonides: history of a complex, west and southwest Pacific-type segment of Iapetus.  in: Blundell, D.J. & Scott, eds, Lyell: the past is the key to the present: Geological Society of London Special Publication, 143, 199-242.
  • Weil, A.B., Van der Voo, R., Mac Niocaill, C., & Meert, J.G. 1998.  The Proterozoic supercontinent Rodinia: paleomagnetically derived reconstructions for 1100-800 Ma. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 154, 13-24.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., van der Pluijm, B.A. & Van der Voo, R. 1997.  Ordovician paleogeography and the evolution of the Iapetus Ocean. Geology, 25, 159-162.
  • Cederquist, D.P., Mac Niocaill, C. & Van der Voo, R. 1997.  Application of Bingham statistics to paleomagnetic data: towards a better definition of APWP trends? Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 146, 95-104.
  • Fang, X., Li, J., Van der Voo, R., Mac Niocaill, C., Dai, X.R., Kemp, R.A., Derbyshire, E., Cao, J.X., Wang, J.M. & Wang, G. 1997.  A record of the Blake Event during the last interglacial paleosol in the western loess plateau of China. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 146, 71-80.
  • Li, J., Fang, X., Van der Voo, R., Zhu, J.J., Mac Niocaill, C., Ono, Y, Pan, B.T., Zhong, W., Wang, J.L., Sasaki, T., Zhang, Y.T., Cao, J.X., Kang, S.C. & Wang, J.M. 1997.  Magnetostratigraphic dating of river terraces: rapid and intermittent incision by the Yellow River of the Northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau during the Quaternary. Journal of Geophysical Research, 102, B5, 10,121-10,132.
  • Li, J., Fang, X., Van der Voo, R., Zhu, J., Mac Niocaill, C., Cao, J.X., Zhong, W., Chen, H., Wang, J., Wang, J. & Zhang, Y. 1997.  Reconnaissance Late Cenozoic magnetostratigraphy (11-0 Ma) of the Wangjiashan section in the Longzhong Basin, western China: Evidence for rapid Mid-Miocene uplift of the Tibetan Plateau. Geologie en Mijnbouw, 76, 121-134.
  • Harper, D.A.T., Mac Niocaill, C., & Williams, S.H. 1996.  The paleogeography of Early-Ordovician Iapetus terranes: an integration of faunal and paleomagnetic constraints. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 121, 297-312.
  • Williams, S.H., Harper, D.A.T., Neuman, R.B., Boyce, W.D. & Mac Niocaill, C. 1996.  Lower Palaeozoic fossils from Newfoundland and their importance in understanding the history of the Iapetus Ocean. in Hibbard, J.P., van Staal, C.R., & Cawood, P.A., eds., Current Perspectives in the Appalachian-Caledonian Orogen: Geological Association of Canada, Special Paper 41, 115-126.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., Smethurst, M.A. & Ryan, P.D. 1995.  Palaeomagnetism of the ophiolite complexes of Meldal, Sør-Trøndelag. Norwegian Geological Survey Report, 95.115, 27pp.
  • Smethurst, M.A., Gåare, E., Mac Niocaill, C., Walker, P.W. & deCaritat, P. 1995.  The distribution of radioactive fallout on Nord-Trøndelag from detailed airborne and ground gamma ray spectrometer surveying. Norges Geologiske Undersøkelse Bulletin, 427, 75-78.
  • Mac Niocaill, C. & Smethurst, M.A. 1994.  Palaeozoic palaeogeography of Laurentia and its margins: a reassessment of palaeomagnetic data. Geophysical Journal International, 116, 715-725.
  • Smethurst, M.A., Mac Niocaill, C. & Ryan, P.D. 1994.  Oroclinal bending in the Caledonides of western Ireland. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 151, 315-329.
  • O’Connor, P.J., Gallagher, V., Madden, J.S., Van den Boom, G., McLaughlin, J.P., McAulay, I.R., Barton, K.J., Duffy, J.T., Muller, R., Grimley, S., Marsh, D., Mackin, G. & Mac Niocaill, C. 1993.  Assessment of the geological factors influencing the occurrence of radon hazard areas in a karstic region, Geological Survey of Ireland Report Series, 93/2, 204pp.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., Smethurst, M.A. & Walker, P.W. 1992.  Radiometric studies in the Meråker region: environmental implications of anomalous levels of 137Cs. Norwegian Geological Survey Report, 92.327, 19pp.


Other Publications

  • Mac Niocaill, C., Torsvik, T.H., & van der Pluijm, B.A. 2003.  Rob Van der Voo – an appreciation.  Tectonophysics, 362, xi-xii.
  • Mac Niocaill, C. 2001. Book review: “Looking into the Earth: an introduction to Geological Geophysics” by Mussett & Khan. Mineralogical Magazine, 65, 697-698.
  • Mac Niocaill, C., van der Pluijm, B.A., & Torsvik, T.H. 2001.  GP Section news: “Gathering recognizes contributions of former Section President”.  EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 82, no 46, 557.