Dr. Stuart N. Thomson
Research Scientist
Department of Geosciences
University of Arizona

(use map or follow links for more details)

I use and develop geochronometers and thermochronometers to determine the time and temperature history of rocks and minerals. This allows me to investigate problems both young (recent wildfires, role of glaciers in shaping mountains, active tectonics of central Turkey) and old (500 million year old rocks of East Antarctica, 2.5 billion year old apatite mineral grains); small (15 micron fission tracks) and large (the 14 million square kilometer subglacial landscape of East Antarctica, the 2000 kilometer long Patagonian Andes), as well as a whole bunch of stuff in between.


1)  Collaborative Research: Ice sheet erosional interaction with hot geotherm in West Antarctica (ICI-Hot)

An NSF Polar Programs funded award
Led by Christione Siddoway at Colorado College, also woith Christian Teyssier (University of Minnesota)

2)  Collaborative Research: Subduction below extreme sedimentation: A multidisciplinary transect from the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta to the IndoBurma Backarc

An NSF Integrated Earth System funded award led by Mike Steckler at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
Also with Louisiana State University, and University of Missouri

3)  Collaborative Research: East Antarctic Glacial Landscape Evolution (EAGLE): A study using combined thermochronology, geochronology and provenance analysis

An NSF Polar Programs funded award
Together with Peter Reiners (University of Arizona), Sidney Hemmong (Columbia University), Kathy Licht (IUPUI), and David Shuster (UC Berkeley)


1)  Collaborative Research: Central Anatolian Tectonics (CD-CAT): Surface to mantle dynamics during collision to escape

An NSF Continental Dynamics Program funded award
Together with University of Minnesota, Northern Arizona University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Missouri:

2)   Collaborative Research: Erosion History and Sediment Provenance of East Antarctica from Multi-method Detrital Geo- and Thermochronology

An NSF Antarctic Earth Science Program funded award
Together with Peter Reiners (University of Arizona), Sidney Hemmong (Columbia University) and George Gehrels (University of Arizona)

3)  Collaborative Research: Lithospheric weakening, deep crustal flow and the initiation of orogenesis at a noncollisional convergent margin in the Andes

A project funded by the NSF EAR Tectonics Programs
Together with Keith Klepeis (University of Vermont), Geoffrey Clarke (University of Sydney), Mark Fanning (ANU), Francisco Hervé (Universidad de Chile)

4)  Collaborative Research: Uplift and faulting at the transition from subduction to collision - a field and modeling study of the Calabrian Arc (Lead PI Thermochronology Section)

Part of a project funded by the NSF EAR Continental Dynamics Program co-ordinated by Michale Steckler (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory). Other Proposing Institutions: University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, Yale University, University of Washington, University of California - Berkeley.

5)  Collaborative Research: Glacial erosion in the Patagonian Andes: Testing the buzzsaw

A project funded by the NSF EAR Geomorphology & Land Use Dynamics and Tectonics Programs
Together with Mark Brandon (Yale), Peter Reiners (University of Arizona), Jonathan Tomkin (University of Illinois), Francisco Hervé (Universidad de Chile), Helmut Echtler (GFZ Potsdam, Germany)

6)  Thermochronologic history of an extending convergent orogen: northern Apennines, Italy

Part of the NSF EAR Continental Dynamics Program funded RETREAT Study (Retreating-Trench, Extension, and Accretion Tectonics: a Multidisciplinary Study of the Northern Apennines) co-ordinated by Mark Brandon (Yale)

7) Syn- and late-orogenic extension: Anatolide-Hellenide orogen

Together with Uwe Ring (University of Canterbury, NZ)

8)  Indentification of paleo-wildfires using low temperature thermochronometers

Together with Peter Reiners (University of Arizona)

9) Patagonian Andes - Chile triple junction, the Liquiñe-Ofqui fault zone, South Patagonian batholith

Together with Francisco Hervé (Universidad de Chile), Bernhard Stöckhert, Arne Willner, and Manfred Brix (Ruhr-University Bochum), and a host of fellow boat travelers...

While at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany I helped instigate a German Science Foundation funded collaborative project in southern Chile to understand the exhumational response of an active continental margin to the subduction of an active oceanic spreading center and the history and development of a major transpressional fault zone, including examining the role of glaciation in limiting topographic development. In addition, I became involved with the IGCP project "Tectonic Evolution of the Pacific Gondwana Margin", including work to clarify the provenance, stratigraphy, and metamorphic history of the late Paleozoic/Mesozoic accretionary complexes of southernmost Chile.

10) Exhumation history of the high-pressure-low temperature rocks of Crete

Together with Bernhard Stöckhert, Manfred Brix, Henry Rauche, and several graduate and undergraduate students (Ruhr-University Bochum)

My initial research at the Ruhr-University Bochum involved the application of fission track analysis to the Island of Crete, Greece. This work involved examining the chronology of exhumation of Oligo-Miocene high-pressure-low temperature metamorphic rocks, and testing the hypothesis that these rocks were exhumed along a major extensional detachment fault. As part of the same project, I also examined the thermal history of the so-called uppermost Unit of Crete; an ophiloitic mélange complex, containing a variety of blocks with an apparently exotic provenance. The thermochronologic results we obtained were integrated with data from structural and metamorphic analysis, including fluid inclusion data, resulting in the publication of a novel tectonic model to explain the exhumation of young high-pressure rocks of the Island of Crete, Greece (Thomson et al., 1999), as well as demonstrating that such exhumation can occur at rates equivalent to those of plate convergence (Thomson et al., 1998a; 1998b).

11) Cenozoic thermotectonics of the Calabrian Arc

Together with Tony Hurford and Robert Hall (Univeristy College London)

This project was the focus of my Ph.D. thesis.

Last Modified: September 4th, 2019