Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Staff Profile

Professor David Manning

Professor of Soil Science



My work focuses on how we can use the Earth's natural resources to support a population of over 9 billion people.

I'm interested in how soils and plants interact in response to climate change, and how we can exploit soil processes to minimise the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

I use my research-based understanding of how soils and their constituent minerals interact with the biosphere in two contexts: 1) carbon capture (through carbonate precipitation or biochar addition), and 2) plant nutrient supply (especially novel sources of K).

I use my earlier work on granites and petroleum systems to develop novel sources of carbon-neutral geoenergy, including deep geothermal power generation in northern England.  This aligns with my role as NERC Senior Science User for the UK Geoenergy Observatories (UK Geoenergy Observatories

For the most up-to-date list of publications, use my Google Scholar link: David Manning Google Scholar.

My Orcid id is: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3473-120X


By training I'm a geologist (specialising in geochemistry and mineralogy), bringing skills from that area to the field of soil science whilst maintaining activity in mineral raw materials, energy and waste management.

Professional Qualifications and Service

A member of the Institution of Geologists since 1979, I became a Chartered Geologist in 1993, a Chartered Scientist in 2005, and a European Geologist in 2005.   From 2008 - 2011 I was Professional Secretary of the Geological Society of London, the person responsible for the award of Chartered Geologist, Chartered Scientist and European Geologist status to competent professionals. 

I was President of the Geological Society of London from 2014-2016.

I was a Member of Council of the European Federation of Geologists, which awards professional qualification in geology across Europe, and I chaired the EFG's Panel of Experts on Soil Protection.

During my service as Professional Secretary, I oversaw the establishment of the Register of Ground Engineering Professionals, and implemented new procedures for the Chartership process, focusing on the UK and Hong Kong.  I oversaw the accreditation of undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes in geology in the UK and overseas, and the introduction of accredited company training schemes.

Roles and Responsibilities

Acting Head of School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences 2016-2017.

Deputy Head of School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences, 2010-2016.

Member of Newcastle University Council, 2009-2012. 

Director, Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability, 2008-2010.

Professional Secretary, Geological Society of London (2008-2011), responsible for all aspects of professional development (degree accreditation, chartership, cpd etc).

Advisory Committee Member, International Biochar Initiative (2008-2011).

Steering Committee Member, ESF MOLTER programme (www.molter.no)


B.Sc. (Geology), class 2:1, Durham, 1976
Ph.D. (Geology), Manchester, 1979
Fellow of the Geological Society of London (since 1976).
Chartered Geologist (since 1993).
Chartered Scientist (since 2005).
European Geologist (since 2005).

Previous Positions

2000 Professor in Environmental Geochemistry, University of Manchester
1996 -2000 Reader in Geology, University of Manchester
1992-1996 Senior Lecturer in Geology, University of Manchester
1988-1992 Lecturer in Geology, University of Manchester
1983-1988 New Blood Lecturer in Geology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
1981-1982 Post-doctoral research fellow (chercheur assimilé) Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, Nancy (funded by CNRS ATP Internationale).
1979-1981 Post-doctoral research fellow (NERC GT5/F/79/GS/3), Department of Geology, University of Manchester.

Visiting appointments, directorships and fellowships:

Honorary Professor of Soil Mineral Processes, Edinburgh University (since 2015)
2001-2002 Leverhulme Research Fellow
1996 Visiting Scientist (NSERC-Royal Society exchange programme), Geological Survey of Canada (Calgary) and Associate, University of Calgary
1996 Visiting Scientist (NSERC-Royal Society exchange programme), Geological Survey of Canada (Calgary) and Associate, University of Calgary
1996 onwards Director, Mineral Solutions Ltd
1994-2000 Associate, Greater Manchester Geological Unit
1988-1989 Nuffield Science Research Fellow.

Industrial experience

Director, Mineral Solutions Ltd (1996-2006; www.mineralsolutions.co.uk)

Founding shareholder, Cluff Geothermal Ltd (www.cluffgeothermal.com), now Hotspur Geothermal

Over 30 years global experience working with extractive industries in connection with the production, processing and use of mineral raw materials.   Mineral raw material sourcing, processing, manufacture and sales of a fertiliser product (MSL-K).   Pre-production processing of expanding pumice.    Testing and advice on landfill design, specifically landfill drainage systems, in collaboration with TerraConsult Ltd.  Substantial experience in consultancy and mineral/environmental project management.


Geological Society of London (Chartered)
Mineralogical Society
Mineralogical Association of Canada

Honours and Awards

Clay Minerals Group, George Brown Lecture, 2021
Mineralogical Society Distinguished Lecturer, 2009-2010.
Schlumberger Medal, Mineralogical Society, 2004.
Wollaston Fund (Geological Society of London), 1993


French (rusty), Portuguese (basic) 

Informal Interests

Music (cello, violin; Scottish and Northumbrian tradition)


Research Interests

My goal is to use my understanding of the reactions that take place in soils to provide benefits that help sustain human populations. The work focuses (a) on carbon capture - through the artificially-influenced precipitation of carbonate minerals and through use of poorly-reactive carbons such as biochar, and (b) on novel methods to build soil fertility - exploiting the weathering of minerals.

To this end, I focus on mineral-water reactions in biologically-active systems including soils, sediments, aquifers, petroleum reservoirs and landfill sites.

Extending to greater depths, I use my long-standing interests in water-rock reaction in granitic and petroleum systems to develop novel geothermal opportunities. Most recently these include a 1000 m deep hole in Weardale, drilled in 2004, with a second 420 m hole nearby for injection, drilled in 2010, and the 1820 m deep hole at Newcastle Science Central.

The publications listed here are a small subset of what you can find in a database such as Web of Knowledge. Search on 'Manning DAC', which is a unique identifier that will give you the vast majority of publications produced throughout my career.

Scopus Author ID: 7201460937

Other Expertise

Thermal analysis; mineral raw materials; geothermal energy; commercial development of minerals; granitic and nepheline-bearing rocks.


Current Work

Understanding the extent, rates and mechanisms of carbonation of calcium silicates in soils and rock weathering, addressing carbonation of urban soils, steel slags and basic rocks.

Investigation of the use of crushed silicate rocks as sources of K, including agronomic benefit for developing countries.

Novel techniques for the characterisation of soil organic matter and related materials from sediments, using thermal analysis connected to on-line isotope ratio and evolved gas mass spectrometry.


Future Research

Using fundamental research on mineral reactions to develop practical alternatives to conventional fertilisers that may be in short supply.

Understanding changes in organic matter in response to changes in land use or due to sediment burial history. 


Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome applications from students wishing to work on carbon capture or soil fertility, interested in developing skills in the investigation of organic matter in soils and sediments, of interactions between plants and soils, and of agricultural mineral raw materials.


Esteem Indicators

Clay Minerals Group, George Brown Lecturer, 2021
Mineralogical Society Distinguished Lecturer, 2009-2010.
Schlumberger Medal, Mineralogical Society, 2004.
Wollaston Fund (Geological Society of London), 1993.
Leverhulme Research Fellow, 2001-2.
Nuffield Science Research Fellow, 1988-9.

Vice President, Geological Society of London, 2005-7.
Professional Secretary, Geological Society of London, 2008-2011.

Chair, Panel of Experts on Soils, European Federation of Geologists, 2012-3.

Steering Committee member (on behalf of NERC) on ESF MOLTER programme (www.molter.no).

Chair, Public Briefing on Shale Gas in the UK, Geological Society, 18 June 2012 (www.geolsoc.org.uk/shalegas).

Invited Speaker, 2nd Brazilian Stonemeal Congress, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2013

Invited Keynote Speaker, Micronutrients in sustainable agriculture, Swedish Agricultural University/FORMAS, Uppsala, 6 November 2012.

Invited Keynote Speaker, 12th Regional Congress on Geology, Mineral and Energy Resources of Southeast Asia GEOSEA 2012, Bangkok, 2012.

Invited Speaker, 'Living with Minerals', Confederation of British Industry, London, 2011.

Invited Speaker, Green Week - Climate Change: Act and Adapt, session “2050 Vision: Working with nature”: Biochar: "A castle in the air or a real option for climate change mitigation?" Brussels, 2009.

Invited Speaker, 1st Brazilian Stonemeal Congress, Brasilia, 2009. 

Invited Speaker, Gordon Conference, Organic Geochemistry, 2006. 

International Biochar Initiative Science Advisory Committee and convenor of 2nd International Conference on Biochar, Newcastle, 2008 (www.biochar-international.org).

International Advisory Committee for the following conferences: Organic Matter Stabilisation 2010 (INRA); Minerals for Life (Mineralogical Society, Edinburgh).

Session Convenor, GeoCanada 2010 (www.geocanada2010.ca)

Session Convenor, Eurosoil 2012, Bari, Italy. 



Continuous UK Research Council funding in one way or another since 1983:
NERC for experimental geochemistry and work on wastes.
EPSRC and BBSRC funding for technique development and work on contaminated land and water.
EPSRC funding on carbon capture by carbonate mineral precipitation in soils.
EPSRC funding for decarbonising heating and cooling.
BBSRC funding on soil organic matter-microbe interactions.


Industrial Relevance

Mineral raw materials, especially fertilizers, geothermal energy, landfill design.

Director, Mineral Solutions Ltd (www.mineralsolutions.co.uk).

Bioenergy: pyrolysis and biochar as a carbon sink.



None in my name.



TG, IRMS, QMS, fluorine, scale, kaolin, clay, zeolite, leachate, ammonium, perlite, pumice, potash, ochre, phosphate


Undergraduate Teaching

I teach environmental Earth science:
CEG1602 Earth surface materials: contribute to this module.

CEG1604 First Year Earth Science Field Course (Lake District)

Postgraduate Teaching

I teach business-focussed modules relating to consultancy skill development:
CEG8607 The Environment Business module leader.

I contribute to modules on applied hydrogeology, engineering geology, and waste management:
Lead; MSc and MEng projects on carbon capture and sustainable aggregates.