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Hazel Margaret Prichard 1954-2017

asdryExpert on the Platinum Group Elements and tireless champion for the importance of minerals and mining.

Professor Hazel Prichard passed away on New Year’s Day 2017, following a 27-month battle with cancer. Hazel grew up in Gravesend with a passion for geology.  While studying A-level geology she attended a lecture by Professor Ian Gass, followed by a fieldtrip to Cyprus, which was to have a profound influence on her future career choice. 

Hazel studied Geology with Geomorphology at Hull University, graduating with First Class Honours in 1976. She initially read for a PhD at the University of East Anglia, but moved with her supervisor Joe Cann to Newcastle. Her PhD thesis focused on the composition of sea-floor rock samples collected from dredging. 


Hazel's overarching research passion was the platinum-group elements. She devoted herself to these fascinating metals for 40 years and made numerous fundamental contributions to our understanding of them over her career. Hazel was awarded two fellowships by the Royal Society; an individual University Research Fellowship held first at the Open University and then at Cardiff, plus the Senior Brian Mercer Award for Innovation. 

Hazel’s research revealed unknown concentrations of Platinum in Shetland’s ophiolites. She was UK Representative and Project Secretary for three major IGCP Projects on magmatic ore deposits and co-edited the landmark Geo-Platinum conference volume in 1988 that did so much to expand PGE research out of the narrow confines of layered intrusions and turn it into the field of research that we recognise today.


In 1992 Hazel transferred to Cardiff University and in 2000 worked on an industrial fellowship with mining companies in Brazil. In 2004 Hazel became the course director of the Exploration Geology degree at Cardiff University with great enthusiasm, which was manifest in running field courses to Cornwall and Cyprus. Hazel would be first off the bus in the morning and be full of enthusiasm until the last outcrop in the evening.  Cardiff students will always remember her enthusiasm for the harzburgite outcrop at Kennack Sands on Lizard and the Umber deposits below Theotokos Monastery on Cyprus. 

Hazel developed the exploration placement component of the degree scheme, providing valuable industrial experience for many students who went on to work in the industry. Cardiff University honoured Hazel for her efforts with an Enriching Student Life award in 2014. 

Gender equality

Hazel was a tireless champion for the importance of minerals and mining and for an acceptance among both government and the general public that a modern economy requires a secure supply of minerals. She lobbied Parliament and published reports on metal scarcity that led eventually to the current research initiative on the Security of Supply of Mineral Deposits programme funded by the NERC. As a woman in a male-dominated sector of academia (and an even more male-dominated industry), Hazel was a constant champion for gender equality and for female students to succeed in Economic Geology.

Hazel will be greatly missed by her academic colleagues as her passion for exploration geology was unrivalled and their thoughts lie with her husband David. Hazel was laid to rest overlooking St Brides Bay, Pembrokeshire. 

Peter Brabham