Dr. Alan Whittington


Professor of Geological Sciences



  Alan Whittington in front of Pacaya volcano, Guatemala




Current research topics include:

• rheology and thermodynamics of lavas on Earth and other planets

• thermal properties of crustal rocks, and 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 crustal melting and granitic plutonism in orogenic belts; shallow basaltic sheet emplacement in sedimentary basins; measurements of the viscosity, other physical properties and thermodynamics of silicate liquids; metamorphic petrology in high-grade metamorphic rocks. Research field areas to date include the western Himalaya, Antarctica, the Rocky Mountains, Brazil and Guatemala.


• Viscometry: 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
• Differential Scanning Calorimetry: we have a new high-temperature Differential Scanning Calorimeter / Drop Calorimeter, capable of enthalpy and heat capacity measurements to 1300°C
• Thermal diffusivity: 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


links to syllabi for most recent semester (in some cases, at least)

GEOL 1100 Principles of Geology - Fall 2005

GEOL 1200 Environmental Geology - Spring 2003

GEOL 1400 Themes in Geology: "Natural Disasters" - Fall 2008

GEOL 2500 Regional Geology Field Trip - Spring 2013

GEOL 3300 Introduction to Geochemistry - Fall 2011

GEOL 4180 / 7180 Solar System Science - Fall 2013

GEOL 4700 / 7700 Theoretical Geochemistry - Fall 2006

GEOL 4900 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology - Spring 2013

GEOL 4992 Field Camp (hard rock week) - Summer 2013

GEOL 8085 Problems (seminar classes):

- Spring 2003 Mafic Dike Emplacement

- Fall 2004 Physics and Chemistry of Silicate Liquids

GEOL 8140 Metamorphic Petrology - Spring 2009

GEOL 8160 Igneous Petrology - Fall 2013

GEOL 8750 Silicate Glasses, Liquids and Magmas - Fall 2012

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

Geological photos:

St. Francois Mountains Petrology field trip to south-east Missouri, March 2011

Pictures from previous years:

2008 2006 2005 2004 2003

As a reward for reading this far down, here's another volcano

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

Other things:

Weather in Columbia, MO

MU Geological Sciences Department

MU Home Page

last updated Fri October 10, 2014