Chris Mattinson awarded NSF grant to study
the North Qaidam UHP Terrane in western China

Chris Mattinson has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the processes responsible for the deep (>100 km) burial and exhumation of continental crust, as recorded in rocks of the North Qaidam ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) terrane, western China, where UHP rocks and a long-lived (>30 Myr) collisional history are well documented.

This project will constrain the spatial and time evolution of pressure-temperature conditions of the southeastern segment of the North Qaidam UHP terrane by combining (1) recently-developed trace element thermometers, forward thermodynamic modeling, and conventional thermobarometry to improve the accuracy and precision of temperature estimates, and (2) systematic U-Pb geochronology, tied to pressure and temperature constraints using trace elements and inclusions, to place these results in a time context.

Results will be used to evaluate models of the continental subduction/exhumation process, and will also aid understanding of the physical conditions relevant to the fluid-releasing mineral reactions linked to the deep earthquakes and melting that occur beneath volcanic chains such as the Cascades.

The project, in collaboration with scientists from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, will continue for 3 years and includes funding for both MS and undergraduate student research projects. Interested students should contact Dr. Mattinson for more information (

Eclogite false-color X-ray map showing concentration of Fe (red), Mg (green), and Ca (blue). Major minerals are garnet (red-orange), omphacite (green), and zoisite (blue). Field of view is 2 mm.