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Dr Barbara Kunz

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Professional biography

I am a LA-ICP-MS specialist with a focus on trace element and isotope analysis in geological material and a research background in metamorphic petrology and geochemistry. I have a particular interest in pushing analytical boundaries while maintaining the highest data quality. Since 2020 I'm managing the LA-ICP-MS lab in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at The Open University.

Since 2023 I am the Technician Commitment lead at the OU, helping to increase and improve the visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability of technicians.

From 2017–2020 I was a project officer on the NERC project 'From Arc Magmas to Ores (FAMOS)' ( My role in this project was sample preparation, geochemical analysis (ICP-MS & EMPA) and data processing of melt inclusion, volcanic glass and minerals for samples from the collaborators of the FAMOS project.

I obtained my PhD in May 2017 (title: Analysis of zircon from deep basement units: Correlation across orogenic cycles in the Southern and Western Alps) at the University of Bern (Switzerland) under the supervision of Martin Engi.

I did my undergraduate at the University of Mainz (Germany) in 2011 where I received my diploma in Geology, which is entitled ‘A mid-crustal metamorphic field gradient in Val Strona di Omenga, Ivrea Zone, Italy: constraints from metabasic rocks’ and was supervised by Richard White and Tim Johnson.


Research interests

My current research focuses on crustal melting processes and the chemical signatures these processes imprint on the resulting magmas and “leftover, non-melted” rocks and minerals. One particular focus is influence metamorphic processes might have on concentrating and/or releasing critical raw materials (e.g. Li, Be, Sc, V, Co, Cu, Ga, In, Sn & W). I combine classical metamorphic techniques (fieldwork, petrographic and textural analysis) with state-of-the-art micro-analytical techniques (trace element mapping by laser-ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry - LA-ICP-MS) and thermodynamic modelling.

Furthermore, I am interested in the P–T–t, mineral assemblage, melt and melt loss evolution as well as the behaviour of accessory minerals of high-grade rocks during metamorphism, in order to determine what information, stored in these rocks tell us about the metamorphic evolution of a terrane.

Due to my work in the LA-ICP-MS lab I relish opportunities to collaborate on projects with other people to solve analytical challenges from a broad range of Earth Science disciplines. In recent years this has been mostly on advancing methods such as online interference correction via ICP-QQQ or element mapping by LA-ICP-MS to enhance our knowledge of element mobility and transport in magmatic and metamorphic systems.

Teaching interests

My main teaching interest is in providing training and know-how on a range of analytical skills for the lab. The form I deliver teaching ranges from one-on-one training of lab users on our LA-ICP-MS instrument and data processing to short courses and knowledge exchange via email. 

Impact and engagement

I’ve been a speaker at the 2019 Soapbox Science Milton Keynes talking to people in the centre:mk about my work as an ‘Element detective’ in the LA-ICP-MS lab.


From 2020-2024 I have been a part of the Soapbox Science Milton Keynes organising committee to help bring science and woman scientists to public places.

I am part of the Metamorphic Studies Group committee a special interest group of the Mineralogical Society where I held the treasurer position for 3 years. Since 2023 I am the chair of the Mineralogical Society awards committee.

In 2019 I received the Times Higher Education award for ‘Outstanding Technician of the Year’.


Multi-phase quantitative compositional mapping by LA-ICP-MS: Analytical approach and data reduction protocol implemented in XMapTools (2024-02-20)
Markmann, Thorsten Andreas; Lanari, Pierre; Piccoli, Francesca; Pettke, Thomas; Tamblyn, Renée; Tedeschi, Mahyra; Lueder, Mona; Kunz, Barbara E.; Riel, Nicolas and Laughton, Joshua
Chemical Geology, 646, Article 121895

Sulfide saturation and resorption modulates sulfur and metal availability during the 2014–15 Holuhraun eruption, Iceland (2024)
Nicholson, Emma J.; Wieser, Penny E.; Hartley, Margaret E.; Jenner, Frances E.; Kunz, Barbara E.; Ilyinskaya, Evgenia; Thordarson, Thorvaldur and Edmonds, Marie
Communications Earth & Environment, 5, Article 164

Allanite U–Pb dating places new constraints on the high‐pressure to high‐temperature evolution of the deep Himalayan crust (2024)
Wood, Eleni; Warren, Clare J.; Kunz, Barbara E.; Argles, Tom W.; Bidgood, Anna; Halton, Alison; Hammond, Samantha J.; Millar, Ian L. and Roberts, Nick M. W.
Journal of Metamorphic Geology ((Early access))

Kyanite petrogenesis in migmatites: resolving melting and metamorphic signatures (2023-02)
Phillips, Stacy E.; Argles, Tom W.; Warren, Clare J.; Harris, Nigel B. W. and Kunz, Barbara E.
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 178, Article 10(2)

Effects of mantle flow on the chemistry of Coriolis Troughs backarc magmas (2022-12-05)
Deng, Chen; Jenner, Frances E.; Wan, Bo; Kunz, Barbara E. and Bullock, Emma S.
Chemical Geology, 612, Article 121116

Tracing Volatiles, Halogens, and Chalcophile Metals During Melt Evolution at the Tolbachik Monogenetic Field, Kamchatka (2022-09)
Iveson, Alexander A; Humphreys, Madeleine C S; Jenner, Frances E; Kunz, Barbara E; Savov, Ivan P; De Hoog, Jan C M; Churikova, Tatiana G; Gordeychik, Boris N; Hammond, Samantha J; Plechov, Pavel Yu; Blundy, Jon and Agostini, Samuele
Journal of Petrology, 63, Article egac087(9)

Arc crust formation of Lesser Antilles revealed by crustal xenoliths from Petit St. Vincent (2022-05)
Melekhova, Elena; Camejo-Harry, Michal; Blundy, Jon; Wallis, Simon R; Annen, Catherine; Kunz, Barbara E; Jenner, Frances and Thirlwall, Matthew
Journal of Petrology, 63, Article egac033(5)

Explosive activity on Kīlauea's Lower East Rift Zone fuelled by a volatile‐rich, dacitic melt (2022-02-11)
Wieser, Penny. E.; Edmonds, Marie; Gansecki, Cheryl; Maclennan, John; Jenner, Frances E.; Kunz, Barbara; Antoshechkina, Paula; Trusdell, Frank; Lee, R. L. and EIMF,
Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 23, Article e2021GC010046(2)

Critical metal enrichment in crustal melts: the role of metamorphic mica (2022)
Kunz, Barbara E.; Warren, Clare J.; Jenner, Frances E.; Harris, Nigel B. W. and Argles, Tom W.
Geology, 50(11) (pp. 1219-1223)

Petrologic monitoring at Volcán de Fuego, Guatemala (2020-11-01)
Liu, Emma J; Cashman, Katharine V; Miller, Ellen; Moore, Hannah; Edmonds, Marie; Kunz, Barbara E; Jenner, Frances and Chigna, Gustavo
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 405, Article 107044

Chalcophile elements track the fate of sulfur at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai’i (2020-08-01)
Wieser, Penny E.; Jenner, Frances; Edmonds, Marie; Maclennan, John and Kunz, Barbara E.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 282 (pp. 245-275)

Elevated magma fluxes deliver high-Cu magmas to the upper crust (2020)
Cox, Daniel; Watt, Sebastian F.L.; Jenner, Frances E.; Hastie, Alan R.; Hammond, Samantha J. and Kunz, Barbara E.
Geology, 48(10) (pp. 957-960)

Phase equilibrium modelling of the amphibolite to granulite facies transition in metabasic rocks (Ivrea Zone, NW Italy) (2019-08-08)
Kunz, Barbara E. and White, Richard W.
Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 37(7) (pp. 935-950)

Crystal scavenging from mush piles recorded by melt inclusions (2019)
Wieser, Penny E.; Edmonds, Marie; Maclennan, John; Jenner, Frances E. and Kunz, Barbara E.
Nature Communications, 10, Article 5797

Zircon ages in granulite facies rocks: decoupling from geochemistry above 850 °C? (2018-03)
Kunz, Barbara; Regis, Daniele and Engi, Martin
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 173(3) (pp. 1-21)

Pervasive Eclogitization Due to Brittle Deformation and Rehydration of Subducted Basement: Effects on Continental Recycling? (2018-03)
Engi, Martin; Giuntoli, Francesco; Lanari, Pierre; Burn, Marco; Kunz, Barbara and Bouvier, Anne-Sophie
Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 19(3) (pp. 865-881)

Deeply subducted continental fragments - Part 2: Insight from petrochronology in the central Sesia Zone (western Italian Alps) (2018-02-26)
Giuntoli, Francesco; Lanari, Pierre; Burn, Marco; Kunz, Barbara Eva and Engi, Martin
Solid Earth, 9(1) (pp. 191-222)

Permian high-temperature metamorphism in the Western Alps (NW Italy) (2018-01)
Kunz, Barbara E.; Manzotti, Paola; von Niederhäusern, Brigitte; Engi, Martin; Darling, James R.; Giuntoli, Francesco and Lanari, Pierre
International Journal of Earth Sciences, 107(1) (pp. 203-229)

Partial melting of metabasic rocks in Val Strona di Omegna, Ivrea Zone, northern Italy (2014-03)
Kunz, Barbara E.; Johnson, Tim E.; White, Richard W. and Redler, Charlotte
Lithos, 190-191 (pp. 1-12)

Coralline algal Barium as indicator for 20th century northwestern North Atlantic surface ocean freshwater variability (2013-05)
Hetzinger, S.; Halfar, J.; Zack, T.; Mecking, J. V.; Kunz, B. E; Jacob, D. E. and Adey, W. H.
Scientific reports, 3, Article 1761

Phase equilibrium constraints on a deep crustal metamorphic field gradient: metapelitic rocks from the Ivrea Zone (NW Italy) (2012-04)
Redler, C.; Johnson, T. E.; White, R. W. and Kunz, B. E.
Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 30(3) (pp. 235-254)

Coralline algal growth-increment widths archive North Atlantic climate variability (2011-03-01)
Halfar, J.; Hetzinger, S.; Adey, W.; Zack, T.; Gamboa, G.; Kunz, B.; Williams, B. and Jacob, D. E.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 302(1-2) (pp. 71-80)

High-resolution analysis of trace elements in crustose coralline algae from the North Atlantic and North Pacific by laser ablation ICP-MS (2011-03-01)
Hetzinger, S.; Halfar, J.; Zack, T.; Gamboa, G.; Jacob, D. E.; Kunz, B. E.; Kronz, A.; Adey, W.; Lebednik, P. A. and Steneck, R. S.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 302(1-2) (pp. 81-94)

Mg/Ca ratios in coralline algae record northwest Atlantic temperature variations and North Atlantic Oscillation relationships (2010-12)
Gamboa, G.; Halfar, J.; Hetzinger, S.; Adey, W.; Zack, T.; Kunz, B. and Jacob, D. E.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 115(C12) (C12044)