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Weiran (Alex) in a scanning electron microscope lab

Updated on April 2nd, 2024

Welcome to my website! I am an assistant professor in Volcanology and Igneous Petrology at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, meanwhile I work as the curator of Stephen Hui Geological Museum (the only geological museum in Hong Kong).



I studied at Peking University (Beijing) for my B.S. (in Geochemistry & double major in art history; 2008-2012) and M.S. (in Structural Geology; 2012-2014).

In 2019, I completed my PhD on subduction-zone volcanism at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (supervisor: Prof. Fidel Costa). During my PhD, I visited Ruhr University Bochum, Germany in 2017 to conduct diffusion experiments (supervisor: Prof. Sumit Chakraborty). Between early 2021 and September 2022, I was postdoc at University of Cambridge working on mantle plume temperatures beneath global ocean islands (supervisor: Dr. Oliver Shorttle and Prof. John Maclennan). 


Research topics: I use a combination of petrological observations, in-situ microanalyses, thermodynamic and kinetic modelling, and high-temperature experiments to study:

(1) volcanoes: volcanic eruption mechanisms / magma storage and mixing / volcanic hazards

(2) volatiles (H2O-CO2-S-F-Cl) cycling at subduction zones

(3) timescales of magmatic processes (diffusion chronometry) and geological events (Ar-Ar and U-Th dating)

(4) mantle chemistry and temperature

(5) Rare earth element partitioning and ore generation

My research areas include Merapi volcano (Indonesia), Mount Erebus (Antarctica), Changbaishan volcano (China), and Mayon volcano (Philippines). 

Since 2014, I have been working on effusive-explosive eruption transition at active volcanoes and have developed multiple models/calculation tools based on a volatile-bearing phosphate mineral - apatite (see research projects and models/tools pages). I am particularly interested in applying thermodynamic modelling to study mineral-fluid-melt systems, including volatile/rare-earth element partitioning, mineral-based geothermobarometry, and mantle melting and plume temperatures (postdoc project at Cambridge; see webpage for the "MC2" Mantle Circulation Constrained project). 




Fundamentals of Modern Sciences (Semester 2)

Data Analysis (Semester 2)


Mineralogy (Semester 1)

Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (Semester 2)

Geochemistry (Semester 2)




Sumit Chakraborty (Ruhr Bochum, Germany)

Kazuhide Nagashima (U. Hawaii, USA)

Oliver Shorttle (Cambridge, U.K.)

John Maclennan (Cambridge, U.K.)

Clive Oppenheimer (Cambridge, U.K.)

Olivier Namur (KU Leuven, Belgium)

Oleg Melnik (University Grenoble Alpes, France)


and many other excellent scientists... 


Please do not hesitate to contact me (weiranli AT if you are interested in collaborating or joining our group (see VACANCIES page).

p.s. I am trying to update this website at the end of each month.






Led group members to attend ACV field camp in Bali, Indonesia (first time for HKUers to participate) and (re)visited Batur and Agung volcanoes!


Start to be the PI of the electron microprobe (EPMA) laboratory at DES, HKU (check out the "facilities" page for more info). 



Our new Zeiss microscope has been installed in our laboratory (see more from the "facilities" page). 


Gave invited talks at the Hutton-X granite conference in Baveno, Italy (Sep 10-15), and the Geological Society of China Annual Meeting (中国地质学会2023学术年会) in Hainan, China (Sep 19-21). 


The Goldschmidt and AOGS sessions we convened went super well. Thank you to all co-convenors and speakers!! 


Gave a science talk at the Singapore International School (Hong Kong). Glad to find out that the local students know a lot about geohazards!


I'm convening two conference sessions this summer: AOGS SE08 and Goldschmidt 5e. Abstract submission deadlines are approaching!


We have a new paper published in CMP about magma volatile story of Erebus volcano, Antarctica and a generalised apatite-melt REE partitioning model:



I moved to University of Hong Kong as an assistant professor and museum curator.


Check out our new paper in Geology about the cause of an explosive-effusive-explosive eruption transition at Rabaul volcano, Papua New Guinea, with insights from apatite 


I gave invited talks (in Chinese) for Northwest University, Xian (西北大学), and the Bochum diffusion seminar series. See recorded videos on "PRESENTATIONS" page.

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