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Prof Sebastian Tappe

Prof Sebastian Tappe
Department of Geology
Associate Professor​

Contact Details
C1 Lab 419
+27 (0)11 559 4716

​Google Scholar Profile



Born on the Baltic Sea coast in Germany, Sebastian studied geology at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University (M.Sc., 2001), followed by studies in petrology and isotope geochemistry at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz (Ph.D., 2005). After postdoctoral research at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry (Germany, 2006) and the University of Alberta (Canada, 2007-2008), he moved to Toronto to work for De Beers Canada Inc. as a Geosciences Specialist (2008-2009). Between 2009 and 2011, Sebastian was a Research Associate in the Radiogenic Isotope Facility at the University of Alberta, where he managed a U-Pb clean-lab and mass spectrometer (TIMS). After an appointment as Assistant Professor (Akademischer Rat a.Z.) at the Westfälische Wilhelms University in Münster (Germany, 2011-2012), Sebastian moved to South Africa to re-join De Beers in the Johannesburg Headquarters in 2013. After spending over 2 years in global diamond exploration with De Beers as a Senior Specialist, Sebastian returned to academia in June 2015 as an Associate Professor in the Department of Geology, University of Johannesburg.

Sebastian’s research interests include melting processes within the Earth’s mantle, particularly the formation of alkaline and carbonate-rich magmas, and their roles within the geochemical cycle. Furthermore, he has conducted petrologic and isotope geochemical studies on mantle-derived xenoliths with the goal of better understanding the formation and fragmentation of cratonic lithosphere. Recent work has focused on isotopic analysis, including U-Pb perovskite geochronology, of kimberlites from North America, Brazil, Siberia, and Africa. These studies are conducted to develop models for the origin of diamond-bearing ultramafic magmas, and to better understand the geodynamic conditions under which they form. At the University of Johannesburg, this research direction will be complemented by a diverse range of projects designed to understand the formation and geologic distribution of critical raw materials with strong emphasis on commodities that are of strategic importance to the world economy with Africa as a major or emerging supplier.

Sebastian is a member of the Geochemical Society (ID 174372), the American Geophysical Union (ID 304236), the Geological Society of South Africa (ID 969285), and the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (ID 400174/13). He is an Associate Editor for Gondwana Research and Editorial Board Member for Nature Scientific Reports. Since 2013 he holds Honorary Researcher status at the School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand.

Research Opportunity

I intend to attract interested students to work on the following subjects:

  • Nature and origin of global kimberlite magmatism (e.g., Africa, Asia, North America)
  • Kimberlite pipe emplacement models and micro-/macrodiamond relationships
  • Alkaline and carbonatite melt generation in “hot” Archean subduction zones
  • Mineralogy (in particular trace element compositions) of diamond-bearing lamproites
  • Depth(s) and tectonic setting(s) of Archean continental mantle lithosphere formation
  • Geochemistry of diamonds with implications for ancient and deep volatile cycles
  • Burial and unroofing histories of cratons and their mineral deposits by means of U-Th/He thermochronology
  • Petrology and isotope geochemistry of REE- and U-deposits
  • Development of innovative geochemical tools for mineral exploration


Recent publications
*denotes student paper

  • Tappe, S., Budde, G., Stracke, A., Wilson, A., Kleine, T., 2020. The tungsten-182 record of kimberlites above the African superplume: Exploring links to the core-mantle boundary. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 547, 116473.
  • *Shaikh, A.M., Tappe, S., Bussweiler, Y., Patel, S.C., Ravi, S., Bolhar, R., Viljoen, K.S., 2020. Clinopyroxene and garnet mantle cargo in kimberlites as probes of Dharwar craton architecture and geotherms, with implications for post-1.1 Ga lithosphere thinning events beneath southern India. Journal of Petrology.
  • *Kumar, S.P., Shaikh, A.M., Patel, S.C., Sheikh, J.M., Behera, D., Pruseth, K.L., Ravi, S., Tappe, S., 2020. Multi-stage magmatic history of olivine–leucite lamproite dykes from Banganapalle, Dharwar craton, India: Evidence from compositional zoning of spinel. Mineralogy and Petrology.
  • *Amsellem, E., Moynier, F., Bertrand, H., Bouyon, A., Mata, J., Tappe, S., Day, J.M.D., 2020. Calcium isotopic evidence for the mantle sources of carbonatites. Science Advances 6. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aba3269
  • Tappe, S., Stracke, A., van Acken, D., Strauss, H., Luguet, A., 2020. Origins of kimberlites and carbonatites during continental collision – Insights beyond decoupled Nd-Hf isotopes. Earth-Science Reviews 208, 103287.
  • *Ballouard, C., Massuyeau, M., Elburg, M., Tappe, S., Viljoen, S.K., Brandenburg, J.-T., 2020. The magmatic and magmatic-hydrothermal evolution of felsic igneous rocks as seen through Nb-Ta geochemical fractionation, with implications for the origins of rare-metal mineralizations. Earth-Science Reviews 203, 103115.
  • Rooney, T.O., Girard, G., Tappe, S., 2020. The impact on mantle olivine resulting from carbonated silicate melt interaction. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 175:56, 1-15.
  • *Burness, S., Smart, K.A., Tappe, S., Stevens, G., Woodland, A.B., Cano, E., 2020. Sulphur-rich mantle metasomatism of Kaapvaal craton eclogites and its role in redox-controlled platinum group element mobility. Chemical Geology 542, 1-22.
  • *Ballouard, C., Elburg, M.A., Tappe, S., Reinke, C., Ueckermann, H., Doggart, S., 2020. Magmatic-hydrothermal evolution of rare metal pegmatites from the Mesoproterozoic Orange River pegmatite belt (Namaqualand, South Africa). Ore Geology Reviews 116, 103252.
  • *Dongre, A., Tappe, S., 2019. Kimberlite and carbonatite dykes within the Premier diatreme root (Cullinan Diamond Mine, South Africa): New insights to mineralogical-genetic classifications and magma CO2 degassing. Lithos 338-339, 155–173.
  • Aulbach, S., Sun, J., Tappe, S., Gerdes, A., 2019. Effects of multi-stage rifting and metasomatism on HSE - 187Os/188Os systematics of the cratonic mantle beneath SW Greenland. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 174, 1-16.
  • Smart, K.A., Tappe, S., Ishikawa, A., Pfänder, J.A., Stracke, A., 2019. K-rich hydrous mantle lithosphere beneath the Ontong Java Plateau: Significance for the genesis of oceanic basalts and Archean continents. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 248, 311-342.
  • *Shaikh, A.M., Patel, S.C., Bussweiler, Y., Kumar, S.P., Tappe, S., Ravi, S., Mainkar, D., 2019. Olivine trace element compositions in diamondiferous lamproites from India: Proxies for magma origins and the nature of the lithospheric mantle beneath the Bastar and Dharwar cratons. Lithos 324-325, 501-518.
  • Joy, S., van der Linde, G., Choudhury, A.K., Deb, G.K., Tappe, S. (2018). Reassembly of the Dharwar and Bastar cratons at ca. 1 Ga: Evidence from multiple tectonothermal events along the Karimnagar granulite belt and Khammam schist belt, southern India. Journal of Earth System Science 127, 1-32. doi:10.1007/s12040-018-0988-2
  • Sun, J., Tappe, S., Kostrovitsky, S.I., Liu, C.-Z., Skuzovatov, S.Y., Wu, F.-Y. (2018). Mantle sources of kimberlites through time: A U-Pb and Lu-Hf isotope study of zircon megacrysts from the Siberian diamond fields. Chemical Geology 479, 228-240. doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2018.01.013
  • Tappe, S., Dongre, A., Liu, C.-Z., Wu, F.-Y. (2018a). 'Premier' evidence for prolonged kimberlite pipe formation and its influence on diamond transport from deep Earth. Geology 46, 843–846. doi:10.1130/G45097.1
  • Tappe S, Smart KA, Torsvik TH, Massuyeau M, de Wit MCJ (2018b) Geodynamics of kimberlites on a cooling Earth: Clues to plate tectonic evolution and deep volatile cycles. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 484, 1-14. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2017.12.013
  • Aulbach, S., Sun, J., Tappe, S., Höfer, H.E., Gerdes, A. (2017). Volatile-rich metasomatism in the cratonic mantle beneath SW Greenland: Link to kimberlites and mid-lithospheric discontinuities. Journal of Petrology 58, 2311-2338. doi:10.1093/petrology/egy009
  • Tappe S, Brand NB, Stracke A, van Acken D, Liu C-Z, Strauss H, Wu F-Y, Luguet A, Mitchell RH (2017a) Plates or plumes in the origin of kimberlites: U/Pb perovskite and Sr-Nd-Hf-Os-C-O isotope constraints from the Superior craton (Canada). Chemical Geology 455: 57-83, doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2016.08.019
  • Tappe S, Romer RL, Stracke A, Steenfelt A, Smart KA, Muehlenbachs K, Torsvik TH (2017b) Sources and mobility of carbonate melts beneath cratons, with implications for deep carbon cycling, metasomatism and rift initiation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 466: 152-167, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2017.03.011
  • Smart KA, Cartigny P, Tappe S, O'Brien H, Klemme S (2017a) Lithospheric diamond formation as a consequence of methane-rich volatile flooding: An example from diamondiferous eclogite xenoliths of the Karelian craton (Finland). Geochim Cosmochim Acta 206: 312-342, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2017.03.014
  • Smart KA, Tappe S, Simonetti A, Simonetti SS, Woodland AB, Harris C (2017b) Tectonic significance and redox state of Paleoproterozoic eclogite and pyroxenite components in the Slave cratonic mantle lithosphere, Voyageur kimberlite, Arctic Canada. Chemical Geology 455: 98-119, doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2016.10.014
  • Giuliani A, Tappe S, Rooney TO, McCoy-West AJ, Yaxley GM, Mezger K (2017) The role of intraplate magmas and their inclusions in Earth’s mantle evolution. Chemical Geology 455: 1-5, doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2017.03.019