Dr. Richard M. Palin

Assistant Professor of Metamorphic Geology

Department of Geology and Geological Engineering,
Colorado School of Mines,
Golden 80401, CO, USA
Telephone: +1 (303) 273-3819

Rocks are records of events that took place at the time they formed. They are books. They have a different vocabulary, a different alphabet, but you learn how to read them.” – John McPhee





Short biography

I completed my DPhil (PhD) at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, UK, in 2013, where I studied the thermal and structural evolution of parts of the Himalayan Range and Tibetan Plateau. Please see my Research and Publications sections for further information. I then worked as a lecturer and postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Geosciences, JGU Mainz, and am now an Assistant Professor of Metamorphic Geology at the Colorado School of Mines, USA. Please see my Teaching section for more information and my Links for additional material of interest.

I have been an invited reviewer for scientific articles submitted to the journals Geology, Journal of Metamorphic Geology, Journal of Petrology, Lithos,
Precambrian Research, Geological Journal, Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, Tectonics, Tectonophysics, Geoscience Frontiers, and GSA Bulletin.

I am a current Fellow of the Geological Society of London, a Member of the Metamorphic Studies Group of the Geological Society of London, and a Member of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain.

I have on-going collaborations with many researchers worldwide, including those at the University of Oxford, UK; the University of Cambridge, UK; the Geological Survey of Canada, Canada; the Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany; the University of Cape Town, South Africa; ETHZ, Switzerland; and the University of Melbourne, Australia (among others).

Research interests

I am principally a metamorphic petrologist, but frequently integrate geochemistry, isotope geochronology, and structural geology into my work. My major research interests include (but are not limited to):

Process- or technique-oriented studies:
  • The mechanisms and physico-chemical effects of fluid–rock and melt–rock interactions in different metamorphic environments and geodynamic settings (cf. Palin et al., 2014b; Palin et al., 2016b; Palin et al., 2017).
  • Developing and testing new activity–composition (a–x) relations and computational techniques for use in petrological phase equilibrium modeling (cf. Green et al., 2016; Palin et al., 2016a)
  • Early-Earth evolution, and secular changes in metamorphism and tectonic styles since the Archean (cf. Palin & White, 2016 – Nature Geoscience; Palin et al., 2016c; White et al., 2017).
Studies of regional interest:

I have performed a number of field- and laboratory-based investigations on rocks from the Himalayan–Karakoram–Tibetan orogen that have produced quantitative models that have constrained the timing and nature of growth and deformation of parts of the Indian and Asian tectonic plates. These have included:
  • Karakoram Metamorphic Complex, north Pakistan – Barrovian-type metasediments (cf. Palin et al., 2012)
  • Tso Morari Massif, northwest India – UHP mafic eclogites (cf. St-Onge et al., 2013; Palin et al., 2014b)
  • Red River Shear Zone/Day Nui Con Voi metamorphic core complex, Vietnam – weakly sheared migmatitic paragneisses and granitic dykes (cf. Palin et al., 2013a)
  • Mae Ping Shear Zone, Thailand – mylonitized orthogneisses and granitic dykes (cf. Palin et al., 2013b)
  • Eastern Himalayan syntaxis (Namche Barwa), southeast Tibet – mylonites and mid/deep-crustal migmatites (cf. Palin et al., 2014a, 2015)
  • Lhasa terrane, Central Tibet – migmatites and subduction-related lithologies (cf. Weller et al., 2015, 2016)
I have an active interest in the geology of the United Kingdom, and have performed fieldwork investigating deep-crustal granulites from Glen Muick (northeast Scotland) and Assynt (northwest Scotland), and ophiolites and their associated metamorphic sole from the Lizard Complex, Cornwall, southwest England.


I have published a number of peer-reviewed scientific articles in ISI-indexed journals, which have been cited approximately 220 times. My h-index is 11. For full and up-to-date citation data, please refer to my Google Scholar profile, which I have found is typically updated three-to-six months before Scopus and/or Web of Science. PDFs of my first-author 'Author Accepted Manuscripts' are available for download on my ResearchGate profile page. Articles marked with a star (*) have been cited 10 times or more. IF = impact factor at time of publication.


[17] Palin, R.M., Reuber, G., White, R.W., Kaus, B.J.P., Weller, O.M. (2017) Subduction metamorphism in the Himalayan ultrahigh-pressure Tso Morari massif: an integrated geodynamic and petrological modelling approach. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, (in press).

[16] White, R.W., Palin, R.M., Green, E.C.R., 2017. High-grade metamorphism and partial melting in Archaean composite grey gneiss complexes. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 35, p. 181–195, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12227, IF = 3.673.


[15] Palin, R.M., White, R.W., Green, E.C.R., 2016c. Partial melting of metabasic rocks and the generation of tonalitic–trondhjemitic–granodioritic (TTG) crust in the Archaean: constraints from phase equilibrium modelling. Precambrian Research, v. 287, p. 73–90, doi: 10.1016/j.precamres.2016.11.001, IF = 4.037.

[14] Palin, R.M., White, R.W., Green, E.C.R., Diener, J.F.A., Powell, R., Holland, T.J.B., 2016b. High-grade metamorphism and partial melting of basic and intermediate rocks. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 34, p. 871–892, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12212, IF = 3.673.

*[13] Green, E.C.R., White, R.W., Diener, J.F.A., Powell, R., Holland, T.J.B., Palin, R.M., 2016. Activity–composition relations for the calculation of partial melting equilibria for metabasic rocks. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 34, p. 845–869, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12211, IF = 3.673.

[12] Weller, O.M., St-Onge, M.R., Rayner, N., Waters, D.J., Searle, M.P., Palin, R.M., 2016. U–Pb zircon geochronology and phase equilibria modelling of a mafic eclogite from the Sumdo complex of south-east Tibet: insights into prograde zircon growth and the assembly of the Tibetan plateau. Lithos, v. 262, p. 729–741, doi: 10.1016/j.lithos.2016.06.005, IF = 3.723.

*[11] Palin, R.M., Weller, O.M., Waters, D.J., Dyck, B., 2016a. Quantifying geological uncertainty in metamorphic phase equilibria modelling; a Monte Carlo assessment and implications for tectonic interpretations. Geoscience Frontiers, v. 7, p. 591–607, doi: 10.1016/j.gsf.2015.08.005, IF = 1.216 [OPEN ACCESS]

*[10] Palin, R.M., White, R.W., 2016. Emergence of blueschists on Earth linked to secular changes in oceanic crust composition. Nature Geoscience, v. 9, p. 60–64, doi: 10.1038/ngeo2605, IF = 11.740.


[9] Palin, R.M., Searle, M.P., St-Onge, M.R., Waters, D.J., Roberts, N.M.W., Horstwood, M.S.A., Parrish, R.R., Weller, O.M., 2015. Two-stage cooling and exhumation history of pelitic mylonite from the Dongjiu-Milin shear zone, northwest flank of the eastern Himalayan syntaxis. Gondwana Research, v. 28, p. 509–530, doi: 10.1016/j.gr.2014.07.009, IF = 8.122.

*[8] Weller, O.M., St-Onge, M.R., Searle, M.P., Waters, D.J., Rayner, N., Chung, S.L., Palin, R.M., Chen, S., 2015. Quantifying the P-T-t conditions of north-south Lhasa terrane accretion: new insight into the pre-Himalayan architecture of the Tibetan plateau. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 33, p. 91–113, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12112, IF = 3.4.


*[7] Palin, R.M., St-Onge, M.R., Waters, D.J., Searle, M.P., Dyck, B., 2014b. Phase equilibria modelling of retrograde amphibole and clinozoisite in mafic eclogite from the Tso Morari massif, northwest India: constraining the P–T–M(H2O) conditions of exhumation. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 32, p. 675–693, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12085, IF = 3.4.

*[6] Palin, R.M., Searle, M.P., St-Onge, M.R., Waters, D.J., Roberts, N.M.W., Horstwood, M.S.A., Parrish, R.R., Weller, O.M., Chen, S., Yang, J., 2014a. Monazite geochronology and petrology of kyanite- and sillimanite-grade migmatites from the northwestern flank of the eastern Himalayan syntaxis. Gondwana Research, v. 26, p. 323–347, doi: 10.1016/j.gr.2013.06.022, IF = 7.396.


*[5] Weller, O.M., St-Onge, M.R., Searle, M.P., Rayner, N., Waters, D.J., Chung, S.L., Palin, R.M., Lee, Y.H., Xu, X.W., 2013. Quantifying Barrovian metamorphism in the Danba Structural Culmination of eastern Tibet. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 31, p. 909–935, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12050, IF = 3.4.

*[4] Palin, R.M., Searle, M.P., Morley, C.K., Charusiri, P., Horstwood, M.S.A., Roberts, N.M.W., 2013b. Timing of metamorphism of the Lansang gneiss and implications for motion along the Mae Ping (Wang Chao) strike-slip fault, Thailand. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, Charles Hutchison Memorial Volume, v. 76, p. 120–136, doi: 10.1016/j.jseaes.2013.01.021, IF = 2.379.

*[3] St-Onge, M.R., Rayner, N., Palin, R.M., Searle, M.P., Waters, D.J., 2013. Integrated pressure–temperature–time constraints for the Tso Morari dome (NW India): Implications for the burial and exhumation path of UHP units in the western Himalaya. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 31, p. 469–504, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12030, IF = 2.99.

*[2] Palin, R.M., Searle, M.P., Waters, D.J., Parrish, R.R., Roberts, N.M.W., Horstwood, M.S.A., Yeh, M.W., Chung, S.L., Anh, T.T., 2013a. A geochronological and petrological study of anatectic paragneiss and associated granite dykes from the Day Nui Con Voi metamorphic core complex, North Vietnam; constraints upon the timing of metamorphism within the Red River shear zone. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 31, p. 359–387, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12025, IF = 2.99.


*[1] Palin, R.M., Searle, M.P., Waters, D.J., Horstwood, M.S.A., Parrish, R.R., 2012. Combined thermobarometry and geochronology of peraluminous metapelites from the Karakoram metamorphic complex, North Pakistan; New insight into the tectonothermal evolution of the Baltoro and Hunza regions. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, v. 30, p. 793–820, doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1314.2012.00999.x, IF = 3.148.


Fall 2017

GEOL525: Principles of Metamorphic Geology

(More information coming soon)

Spring 2018

GEGN498: Introduction to Plate Tectonics

(More information coming soon)


Here are some links to related websites:

The JGU Mainz Institute of Geosciences Metamorphic Geology homepage.
The homepage for the thermodynamic phase equilibrium modelling software THERMOCALC that is used by a large number of researchers worldwide (including very frequently in my work!). This site contains a wealth of information about phase petrology relevant to anyone working in the field, from 'beginner' to 'expert'.
The homepage for the University of Oxford, UK, "Hard Rock Group". This page showcases the excellent work being done at their Department and has lots of information for students and researchers alike.