Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

My main geological interests are the tectonic evolution of mountain belts, in particular processes associated with subduction, ophiolite formation and obduction, folding and thrusting, low-angle normal faults (eg: South Tibetan Detachment), regional metamorphism and crustal melting. I work mainly along the Alpine-Himalayan belt, the Karakoram ranges and Tibetan Plateau region and Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Yunnan). I am also interested in large-scale strike-slip faults, particularly the Karakoram fault, Red River fault, Mae Ping fault, Sagaing fault and Dead Sea fault. My major research projects are in the following areas:

Oman Mountains, Arabia (Oman and UAE):

Detailed structural mapping, crustal shortening mechanisms, balanced and restored cross-sections, P-T-t evolution of sub-ophiolite metamorphic rocks and subduction-related blueschists and eclogites, style of folding and thrusting from the foreland fold-thrust belt to carpholite – eclogite facies High-Pressure rocks. Detailed structural mapping of the Musandam peninsula and Dibba zone (Oman and UAE). Obduction mechanisms of the Semail and Masirah ophiolites.

Himalaya (Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan):

We are undertaking regional mapping and structural studies in combination with thermobarometry, determining P-T-t paths, metamorphic modeling and U-Th-Pb dating of accessory minerals. The major projects presently active are:

Pliocene-Pleistocene metamorphism, melting and formation of cordierite leucogranites in the Nanga Parbat Syntaxis, Pakistan.
Ultra-High Pressure metamorphism (coesite eclogites) and deep subduction of Indian crust Kaghan (Pakistan) and Tso Morari (India).
Subduction-related metamorphism along the Main Mantle Thrust, Kohistan Arc (Pakistan).
Origin and Emplacement of the Spontang Ophiolite and Indus suture zone, Ladakh (India).
Crustal shortening and thickening mechanisms across Ladakh – Zanskar Himalaya (India).
Structural, metamorphic and magmatic evolution of the Zanskar – Kishtwar High Himalaya (India).
Structural, metamorphic and magmatic evolution of the Garhwal (Shivling, Bhagirathi, Meru) Himalaya (India).
Structrual evolution and inverted metamorphism along the Main Central Thrust zone (India, Nepal).
South Tibetan Detachment low-angle normal faulting in the Himalaya (Zanskar, Nepal, South Tibet).
Structural, metamorphic and magmatic evolution of the Annapurna-Manaslu Himalaya (Nepal).
Structure, metamorphism and melting in the Langtang – Shisha Pangma Himalaya (Nepal, South Tibet).
Structure, metamorphism, anatexis and leucogranite formation (Channel Flow) in the Everest – Makalu Himalaya (Nepal, South Tibet).
Structure, metamorphism and melting in the Eastern Himalaya (Kangchenjunga, Sikkim, Bhutan).

Karakoram – Hindu Kush Ranges (Pakistan, Ladakh, SW Tibet):

We are undertaking regional mapping and structural studies in combination with thermobarometry, determining P-T-t paths, metamorphic modeling and U-Th-Pb dating of accessory minerals. The major projects presently active are:
Regional mapping of the Central Karakoram Ranges in the Hunza, Biafo, Shimshal, Snow Lake, Baltoro and Hushe regions (North Pakistan).
Baltoro granite batholith petrogenesis, evolution and age in the Latok – Ogre, Trango Towers – Biale, Masherbrum, K7, Kondus and Bilafond glacier regions.
Metamorphic evolution, P-T-t paths, pseudosection modeling and U-Th-Pb dating of accessory minerals along the Karakoram metamorphic complex.
Structural evolution of the Karakoram Fault, K2 – Gasherbrum Ranges, Siachen – Nubra – Pangong region (North Pakistan, North India).
Structural and thermal evolution of the Hindu Kush Ranges, NW Frontier (Pakistan – Afghanistan).

Tibetan Plateau:

Indus – Tsangpo suture zone ophiolites, ophiolitic mélanges, U-Pb dating of trondhjemites, dacites from ophiolites, strtigraphy and timing of molasse deposits, ultra-potassic dykes; Gangdese granite magmatism and structural evolution of the India-Asia collision zone.

Karakoram Fault (Ladakh, Xinjiang, Tibet): Detailed structural mapping in the Tangtse – Muglib profile, the Darbuk-Shyok transect and Nubra valley, Ladakh; microstructural analysis, U-Pb dating of granites, active tectonics in Tangste-Muglib-Pangong Lake region and Nubra valley, Ladakh.

Red River shear zone (Yunnan, Vietnam): Structural mapping of the Ailao Shan, Diancang Shan (Yunnan) and DayNuiConVoi (Vietnam) metamorphic complexes along the Red River shear zone; Sapa metamorphic rocks, FanSiPan alkali granite-syenite; Luc Yen ruby – phlogopite marbles; U-Pb dating of pre- syn- and post-kinematic granites to constrain age of strike-slip ductile shear.

Mogok metamorphic belt, Sagaing fault (Burma): Structural mapping of high-grade metamorphic rocks; P-T-t paths of sillimanite and andalusite schists; U-Pb dating of metamorphic and magmatic rocks; tectonic history of the Sagaing fault zone.

Mae Ping and Three Pagodas fault (Thailand): Structural mapping combined with regional stratigraphic, seismic, and well data to constrain timing of motion and amount of offset along the faults.

Andaman Islands ophiolites (India): Structural mapping, combined with U-Pb dating of gabbro – dacites of the ophiolite sequence and overlying arc-related volcanics.

Dead Sea fault (Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria): Structural mapping combined with Ar-Ar dating of Pliocene – Pleistocene alkali volcanic rocks offset by the Dead Sea fault.

Moine thrust zone, Assynt (NW Scotland): Structural mapping, construction of balanced and restored cross-sections and interpretation of the timing and evolution of the Moine thrust zone using cross-cutting relationships of Loch Ailsh and Borralan alkali intrusions.

At Oxford I have supervised 17 D.Phil students working in Oman-U.A.E. (Jon Cox, Clare Warren, Tom Jordan), Zanskar – Ladakh, N.W. Indian Himalaya (Ben Stephenson, James Walker, Richard Corfield, Christian Walker), Kohistan (Simon Gough) Hunza Karakoram (James Fraser), Baltoro Karakoram (Andrew Thow), Karakoram fault in Ladakh (Richard Phillips) Hindu Kush (Peter Hildebrand), SW Tibet (Gavin Chan) and the Everest region, Nepal and Tibet (Robert Simpson, Micah Jessup, John Cottle) and the Makalu region of Nepal (Mike Streule).

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford