Magmatic Systems

Magmatic systems research at USC focuses on understanding how melts form, how they are transported through and locally stored within the lithosphere and sometimes erupted on Earth's surface, and how these processes affect the behavior of the lithosphere.

Earth Sciences faculty at USC are particularly interested in the growth and evolution of continental arcs, the most rheologically complex orogenic zones on earth, where rock viscosities vary over 16 orders of magnitude, temperatures over 1200 oC, and compositions over a wide range, making these settings a wonderful natural laboratory for research and teaching.

USC's Magmatic Systems research involves faculty from Tectonics and Geophysics and collaborations with geochemists and geochronologists at several institutions across the country. Our field areas extend throughout the western margin of North America, from Baja to Alaska. USC faculty and grad students have worked in the Lachlan Fold Belt, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Ireland and are now venturing into the Gobi-Altai in Mongolia, and a number of areas in China and Europe.

Projects include:

  • detailed multi-disciplinary studies of batholiths - Mt. Stuart batholith, Cascades, Washington, and the Tuolumne Batholith, Sierra Nevada, California
  • examination of vertical changes in arc crustal sections - Cascades core, Washington, Transverse ranges, California, and recently, the Gobi-Altai, Mongolia
  • studies of the effects of ridge subduction on arc magmatism - Alaska
  • magmatism during terrane accretion, then transpression, then transtension - the Cascades, Washington and the Sierra Nevada, California
  • research on the effects of transitional basement, arc collision, and orogeny - Baja California, Mexico
  • thermobarometry of pluton emplacement and use of pluton minerals to recover pressure-temperature-time information
  • Proterozoic crustal evolution, including the world-wide Mesoproterozoic emplacement of anothorsite, charnockite, and potassic granite
  • Zumberge Hall of Science (ZHS)
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0740
  • Phone: (213) 740-6106
  • Email: