Dr. Alan Whittington


E.B. Branson Professor of Geological Sciences and Department Chair



  Alan Whittington in front of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala




Current research topics include:

• rheology and thermodynamics of liquids and multiphase magmas on Earth, other planets, and in circumstellar dust shells

volcanic eruptions: lava flow emplacement and effusive-explosive transitions

• thermal properties of crustal rocks: lab measurements, thermal / strength profiles of the crust through time

I regard the combination of field- and lab-based studies as essential to much research in the geosciences. Doing both enhances my understanding of geological processes and increases my enjoyment of both kinds of work. My research has spanned a range of topics in igneous and metamorphic petrology, experimental petrology and volcanology. Research field areas to date include the western Himalaya, Antarctica, Brazil, northern Ontario, the Rocky Mountains, Guatemala, Hawai'i and Réunion.


Viscometry lab: we have both concentric cylinder and parallel plate viscometers to measure viscosity at high and low temperatures, from ~1 to 105 Pas and from ~108 to 1013 Pas, and a high temperature (1700°C) muffle furnace for sample synthesis

Calorimetry lab: we have two Differential Scanning Calorimeters (Netzsch DSC 404 Pegasus and Perkin Elmer DSC 8500), and we can measure heat capacity and enthalpies to 1500°C

• Thermal diffusivity: Laser-Flash Analysis (LFA) in collaboration with Anne Hofmeister, at Washington University (St. Louis)

• Infrared spectroscopy of circumstellar dust shells: in collaboration with Angela Speck, MU Physics and Astronomy


Current lab members: Stuart Kenderes (PhD), Jesse Merriman (PhD), Aaron Morrison (PhD), Derick Roy (senior thesis), Arianna Soldati (PhD)

Lab alumni: 13 undergraduates (8 senior theses), 8 MS, and 3 PhD. Most went into industry or continued on to higher degrees. Four lab alumni are now faculty members, and I encourage PhD students to take a graduate Minor in College Teaching.



GEOL 1100 Principles of Geology

GEOL 1200 Environmental Geology

GEOL 1400 Themes in Geology: "Natural Disasters", and "Geology of Minecraft"

GEOL 2500 Regional Geology Field Trip

GEOL 3300 Introduction to Geochemistry

ASTRON/GEOL/PHYSCS 4180/7180 Solar System Science (co-taught)

GEOL 4700/7700 Theoretical Geochemistry

GEOL 4900 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

GEOL 4992 Field Camp (Teton-Yellowstone field trip)

GEOL 8085 Problems (seminar classes): "Mafic Dike Emplacement", and "Physics and Chemistry of Silicate Liquids"

GEOL 8140 Metamorphic Petrology

GEOL 8160 Igneous Petrology

GEOL 8750 Silicate Glasses, Liquids and Magmas



Cosmic Conversations - monthly public lecture series on astronomy, including scientific and cultural issues

Saturday Morning Science - for those who just don't get enough science during the week...

American Geological Institute guide to Geoscience Careers

Looking south from the summit of Santa Maria (3772 m) towards Santiaguito (~2600 m)

Weather in Columbia, MO

MU Geological Sciences Department

MU Home Page

last updated August 2016