Prof Alex Maltman


I joined the Department of Geology at Aberystwyth in 1973, with an Honours degree in Geology from the University of Liverpool and an MS and PhD from the University of Illinois.

My ensuing research covered a variety of subjects, such as the slates of Vermont and North Wales, geological aspects of mid-Wales, Anglesey, the Scottish Hebrides, Italian Apennines and SW Japan, but my main effort was exploring how geological sediments deform. Combining fieldwork with experimental deformation, I investigated the physical behaviour of sediments in situations such as beneath moving glaciers, in the clay linings of landfill sites, in landslips and submarine landslides, and most importantly at the mega-faults where the Earth’s tectonic plates are actively converging. Thus for over twenty years I was involved with the international Ocean Drilling Program, researching sediment cores from the plate boundaries of the north-western USA, Peru and Chile, Barbados and Japan’s Nankai Trench.

My teaching at Aberystwyth was always highly regarded but two highlights were being voted outstanding lecturer in 2012 - the first time that student-led teaching awards were held – and in 2015 when the student enrolment for my course on “Planet Earth” exceeded 600.

Throughout this time, as a hobby I grew grapevines and made wine, and became interested in the science involved. Inevitably, this led to exploring the increasingly fashionable claim that vineyard geology is paramount in the taste of a wine. As a result, and especially since retiring from the university in 2018, I have been giving talks, webinars, podcasts, etc. on the matter, and contributing to international conferences, newspaper columns, journals, magazines and books (including the World Atlas of Wine and the Oxford Companion to Wine, the two volumes most highly regarded in the wine world). My own book on the subject was published in 2018.

Additional Information


“Geological Maps: an Introduction”, Second Edition, John Wiley, 260 pages, 1998. Available as ebook:

“The Geological Deformation of Sediments”, Chapman and Hall, London, ISBN 0 412 40590 3, 362 pages, 1994. Available as ebook:

“Deformation of Glacial Materials”, with Hubbard, B. and Hambrey, M.J. (eds.) Geological Society Special Publication 176, ISBN 1 86239 072 X, 344 pages, 2000.

“Subsurface Sediment Mobilization”, with van Rensbergen, P., Hillis, R., and Morley, C.K. Geological Society Special Publication 216, ISBN 1 86239 1416, 522 pages, 2003.

Vineyards, Rocks, and Minerals: a Wine Lover’s Guide to Geology, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780190863280, 234 pages, 2018.



Brisk wine from granite but delicate from sand: the geological legacy of James Busby (1802- 1871). World of Fine Wine, in press.

Limestone, for vineyards the holy grail (maybe). World of Fine Wine, in press.

Geological maps and their interpretation. In: Encyclopedia of Geology, 2nd edition, vol. 6, pp. 53-59. United Kingdom: Academic Press, 2021.

The Geology of Wine, Spirits and Beer. In: Encyclopedia of Geology, 2nd edition. vol. 6, pp. 627-643. United Kingdom: Academic Press, 2021.

The root of the matter, Decanter, March 2021.

Clay: what it is and why it matters. World of Fine Wine, September 2020.

Minerality in Wine: Towards the Reality behind the Myths. Wendy V. Parr, Alex J. Maltman, Sally Easton and Jordi Ballester, Beverages vol. 4, pages 1-19, 2018. Available on-line at


Parr, WV, Maltman, A, Easton, S & Ballester, J 2018, 'Minerality in Wine: Towards the Reality behind the Myths', Beverages, vol. 4, no. 4, 77. 10.3390/beverages4040077
Maltman, A 2014, 'Book review. Land and wine: the French terroir, by Charles Frankel', Journal of Wine Research, vol. 25, no. 4. 10.1080/09571264.2014.968769
Maltman, AJ 2013, 'Minerality in wine: a geological perspective', Journal of Wine Research.
Maltman, AJ 2008, 'The Role of Vineyard Geology in Wine Typicity', Journal of Wine Research, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 1-17. 10.1080/09571260802163998
Etienne, JL, Jansson, KN, Glasser, NF, Hambrey, MJ, Davies, JR, Waters, RA, Maltman, AJ & Wilby, PR 2006, 'Palaeoenvironmental interpretation of an ice-contact glacial lake succession: an example from the late Devensian of southwest Wales, UK', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 25, no. 7-8, pp. 739. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.03.019
More publications on the Research Portal