Raphael Baumgartner

Research Associate

Raphael is originally from Carinthia, Austria. He completed his Master’s degree in Economic Geology at the University of Leoben (Austria), and went on to complete his PhD at UWA (Perth). His PhD examined the potential of martian Large Igneous Provinces (LIP) to host sulphide endowments enriched in nickel and platinum-group elements. This innovative study integrated hyperspectral remote sensing data with gamma ray spectroscopy data, and also involved the analysis of trace element sulphide and chromite mineralisation within martian meteorites (shergottites and chassingnites). 

Following completion of his PhD, Raphael continued as a Research Associated at UWA prior to joining the UNSW in Sydney, where he investigated well preserved, strongly sulfidized microbial mat structures (stromatolites) in sedimentary and hydrothermal rocks of the c. 3.5 Ga Dresser Formation, East Pilbara Craton. This research, which involved the use of analytical techniques at high precision and resolution (Raman Spectroscopy, FE–SEM, FIB–SEM, STEM, EPMA, SR–XFM; LA–ICP–MS, SIMS and NanoSIMS), has led to crucial new insights into hydrothermal activity and the nature of ancient life in the Dresser Formation.

For the next years, Raphael will mainly work in close collaboration with CSIRO Mineral Resources (Perth) focusing on ore genesis in Earth’s Red Sea and comparable environments elsewhere in the solar system, specifically Mars, providing insight into the role of organic matter in metal transport and accumulation, in particular Zn, Co, Cu and Mn, and allowing the development of novel mineral exploration models leading to more effective exploration.

Research Activities
  • Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Geochemistry
  • Astrobiology
  • Geobiology
  • Ore Geology
Journal articles
Murphy RJ; Van Kranendonk MJ; Baumgartner R; Ryan C, 2021, 'Biogenicity of Spicular Geyserite from Te Kopia, New Zealand: Integrated Petrography, High-Resolution Hyperspectral and Elemental Analysis', Astrobiology, vol. 21, pp. 115 - 135, http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ast.2019.2067
Aulbach S; Giuliani A; Fiorentini ML; Baumgartner RJ; Savard D; Kamenetsky VS; Caruso S; Danyushevky LV; Powell W; Griffin WL, 2021, 'Siderophile and chalcophile elements in spinels, sulphides and native Ni in strongly metasomatised xenoliths from the Bultfontein kimberlite (South Africa)', Lithos, vol. 380-381, pp. 105880 - 105880, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lithos.2020.105880
Van Kranendonk MJ; Baumgartner R; Djokic T; Ota T; Steller L; Garbe U; Nakamura E, 2021, 'Elements for the Origin of Life on Land: A Deep-Time Perspective from the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia', Astrobiology, vol. 21, pp. 39 - 59, http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ast.2019.2107
Kranendonk MV; Baumgartner R; Cady S; Campbell K; Damer B; Deamer D; Djokic T; Gangidine A; Ruff S; Walter MR, 2021, 'Terrestrial Hydrothermal Fields and the Search for Life in the Solar System', Bulletin of the AAS, vol. 53, http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/25c2cfeb.a3a646ab
2021, 'Chemistry-dependent Raman spectral features of glauconite and nontronite: Implications for mineral identification and provenance analysis', American Mineralogist, http://dx.doi.org/10.2138/am-2022-8044
Baumgartner RJ; Van Kranendonk MJ; Pagès A; Fiorentini ML; Wacey D; Ryan C, 2020, 'Accumulation of transition metals and metalloids in sulfidized stromatolites of the 3.48 billion–year–old Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton', Precambrian Research, vol. 337, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2019.105534
Baumgartner RJ; Caruso S; Fiorentini ML; Van Kranendonk MJ; Martin L; Jeon H; Pagès A; Wacey D, 2020, 'Sulfidization of 3.48 billion-year-old stromatolites of the Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton: Constraints from in-situ sulfur isotope analysis of pyrite', Chemical Geology, vol. 538, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2020.119488
Baumgartner RJ; Van Kranendonk MJ; Fiorentini ML; Pagès A; Wacey D; Kong C; Saunders M; Ryan C, 2020, 'Formation of micro-spherulitic barite in association with organic matter within sulfidized stromatolites of the 3.48 billion-year-old Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton', Geobiology, vol. 18, pp. 415 - 425, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gbi.12392
Daly L; Lee MR; Piazolo S; Griffin S; Bazargan M; Campanale F; Chung P; Cohen BE; Pickersgill AE; Hallis LJ; Trimby PW; Baumgartner R; Forman LV; Benedix GK, 2019, 'Boom boom pow: Shock-facilitated aqueous alteration and evidence for two shock events in the Martian nakhlite meteorites', Science Advances, vol. 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaw5549
Baumgartner RJ; Van Kranendonk MJ; Wacey D; Fiorentini ML; Saunders M; Caruso S; Pages A; Homann M; Guagliardo P, 2019, 'Nano-porous pyrite and organic matter in 3.5-billion-year-old stromatolites record primordial life', Geology, vol. 47, pp. 1039 - 1043, http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G46365.1
Daly L; Piazolo S; Lee MR; Griffin S; Chung P; Campanale F; Cohen BE; Hallis LJ; Trimby PW; Baumgartner R; Forman LV; Benedix GK, 2019, 'Understanding the emplacement of Martian volcanic rocks using petrofabrics of the nakhlite meteorites', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 520, pp. 220 - 230, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2019.05.050
Caruso S; Fiorentini ML; Hollis SP; LaFlamme C; Baumgartner RJ; Steadman JA; Savard D, 2018, 'The fluid evolution of the Nimbus Ag-Zn-(Au) deposit: An interplay between mantle plume and microbial activity', Precambrian Research, vol. 317, pp. 211 - 229, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2018.08.012
Baumgartner RJ; Fiorentini ML; Lorand JP; Baratoux D; Zaccarini F; Ferrière L; Prašek MK; Sener K, 2017, 'The role of sulfides in the fractionation of highly siderophile and chalcophile elements during the formation of martian shergottite meteorites', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 210, pp. 1 - 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2017.04.011
Baumgartner RJ; Baratoux D; Gaillard F; Fiorentini ML, 2017, 'Numerical modelling of erosion and assimilation of sulfur-rich substrate by martian lava flows: Implications for the genesis of massive sulfide mineralization on Mars', Icarus, vol. 296, pp. 257 - 274, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2017.06.016
Baumgartner RJ; Fiorentini ML; Baratoux D; Ferrière L; Locmelis M; Tomkins A; Sener KA, 2017, 'The variability of ruthenium in chromite from chassignite and olivine-phyric shergottite meteorites: New insights into the behavior of PGE and sulfur in Martian magmatic systems', Meteoritics and Planetary Science, vol. 52, pp. 333 - 350, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/maps.12795
Baumgartner RJ; Fiorentini ML; Baratoux D; Micklethwaite S; Sener AK; Lorand JP; McCuaig TC, 2015, 'Magmatic controls on the genesis of Ni-Cu±(PGE) sulphide mineralisation on Mars', Ore Geology Reviews, vol. 65, pp. 400 - 412, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.oregeorev.2014.10.004
Baumgartner RJ; Zaccarini F; Garuti G; Thalhammer OAR, 2013, 'Mineralogical and geochemical investigation of layered chromitites from the Bracco-Gabbro complex, Ligurian ophiolite, Italy', Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, vol. 165, pp. 477 - 493, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00410-012-0818-5
Book Chapters
Van Kranendonk MJ; Djokic T; Baumgartner R; Bontognali TRR; Sugitani K; Kiyokawa S; Walter MR, 2021, 'Life analog sites for Mars from early Earth: diverse habitats from the Pilbara Craton and Mount Bruce Supergroup, Western Australia', in Mars Geological Enigmas, Elsevier, pp. 357 - 403, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-820245-6.00013-6
Van Kranendonk M, 2019, 'Chapter 40 - Depositional Setting of the Fossiliferous, c.3480 Ma Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton: A Review', in Earth's Oldest Rocks, Elsevier, pp. 985 - 1006, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-63901-1.00040-X
  • 2016 – Best presentation award at the 13th International Ni–Cu–PGE Symposium, Fremantle.
  • 2013 – International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) for a 3.5 year Ph.D. program at the University of Western Australia, Perth.
  • 2013 – Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for a 3.5 year Ph.D. program at the University of Western Australia.
  • 2013 – Top–up scholarship for a 3.5 year Ph.D. program at the University of Western Australia, Perth.
  • 2010 – Outstanding student award (BSc) at the University of Leoben, Austria.
  • Australian Synchrotron Proposal 8538 (2015): The distribution of Ni, Cu and Pt in the martian meteorites: Constraints on the metal budget of source magmas and metal fractionation processes (co–proposer and editor). $98,000.
  • Australian Synchrotron Proposal 12382 (2017): Trace metals as catalysts to life on the early Earth: insights from high–resolution synchrotron–XFM element mapping of stromatolites from the ~3.5 Ga old Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton (proposer and editor). $110,000.
  • CSIRO Mineral Resources (2020): Metals, minerals and microbes: microbial pathways in metal accumulation and implications for astrobiology. $ 408,000.