Frank Spear

Department Head and Professor


My research group is focused in two major directions in metamorphic geochemistry.

Studies of crustal evolution:A major focus of my research group over the past three decades has been on the development of new techniques for the interpretation of metamorphic petrogenesis. These studies involve modeling mineral reactions, textures, and chemical zonation in both major and accessory phases. The goal of this work is to construct pressure-temperature-deformation-time histories that can be used to interpret the tectonic evolution of a terrane. We have applied these techniques to areas in the Alps, New England, southern Chile, the Mojave desert, British Columbia, the Adirondacks of New York, and the Cyclades Blueschist Belt of Greece. Current field projects are underway in Central New England The Ruby-Humboldt range of eastern Nevada Adirondack Mountains of New York Cyclades Blueschist Belt, Greece. Much of our current work utilizes inclusion barometry, especially quartz in garnet or QuiG, to constrain the P–T conditions of garnet nucleation and growth.

Thermodynamic modeling of metamorphic processes: A considerable amount of my research effort has been devoted to the development of software to analyze and model metamorphic processes. These efforts include calculation of P–T conditions using thermobarometry, plotting of metamorphic phase diagrams, calculation of metamorphic phase equilibria such as petrogenetic grids, isochemical phase diagrams, and models of chemical zoning, application of diffusion theory to constrain metamorphic time scales, and thermal modeling of metamorphic evolution in thrust belts and subduction zones. Access to my software is available from my personal web pages.


Education & Training

Ph.D., 1976 University of California, Los Angeles B.A., 1971 Amherst College, Amherst MA.


Distribution of Cr in a metamorphic garnet
Distribution of Cr in a metamorphic garnet


Picture Fold near Fairhaven, VT
Picture Fold near Fairhaven, VT

I enjoy teaching a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses including mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, field seminars, phase petrology, geochemistry of groundwater systems, and computer applications in geology. My teaching goals, whether at the graduate or undergraduate level, are to teach the student to analyze and understand different types of problems while helping to build confidence in theirr own ability to solve these problems.

Current Courses
  •   Structural Geology - Fall semester, annually
  •   Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology - spring semester, on demand
  •   Advanced Phase Equilibria - On demand
  •   Advanced Metamorphic Petrology - On demand
  •   Aqueous Geochemistry -- Spring semester annually


Awards & Honors
  • Fellow, Mineralogical Society of America (1986)
  • Fellow, Geological Society of America (1993)
  • N.L. Bowen Award (VGP section of AGU) (1997)
  • Dana Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America (2007)
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2007)
  • Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor Chair (2007-)
  • Murchison Medal, Geological Society of London (2012)
  • Barrow Award, Metamorphic Studies Group, Geological Society of London (2023)


Selected publications -- for full publication list go to my Scopus link

Books published

  • Spear, F.S. and Peacock, S.M. (1989) Metamorphic Pressure-Temperature-Time Paths, 102 p. American Geophysical Union, Washington.
  • Spear, F.S. (1993) Metamorphic Phase Equilibria and Pressure-Temperature-Time Paths, 799 p. Mineralogical Society of America, Washington, D.C.

The following is a selection of recent publications in Scopus. Frank Spear has 130 indexed publications in the subjects of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Computer Science, Mathematics.

Frank S. Spear, Oliver M. Wolfe, John T. Cheney
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
, 178
, 2023
Kristen Chiama, Morgan Gabor, Isabella Lupini, Randolph Rutledge, Julia Ann Nord, Shuang Zhang, Asmaa Boujibar, Emma S. Bullock, Michael J. Walter, Kerstin Lehnert, Frank Spear, Shaunna M. Morrison, Robert M. Hazen
Earth System Science Data
, 15
, 2023
, pp.4235-4259
Oliver M. Wolfe, Frank S. Spear, Jay B. Thomas, Eric M. Hasegawa, Grant T. Libby, John T. Cheney
Journal of Metamorphic Geology
, 41
, 2023
, pp.1119-1141
Frank S. Spear, Oliver M. Wolfe
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
, 177
, 2022
Nicole X. Nie, Nicolas Dauphas, Esen E. Alp, Hao Zeng, Corliss K. Sio, Justin Y. Hu, Xi Chen, Sarah M. Aarons, Zhe Zhang, Heng Ci Tian, Da Wang, Kelsey B. Prissel, Jennika Greer, Wenli Bi, Michael Y. Hu, Jiyong Zhao, Anat Shahar, Mathieu Roskosz, Fang Zhen Teng, Michael J. Krawczynski, Philipp R. Heck, Frank S. Spear
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
, 302
, 2021
, pp.18-45
Karolina Kośmińska, Frank S. Spear, Jarosław Majka, Karol Faehnrich, Maciej Manecki, Karsten Piepjohn, Winfried K. Dallmann
Journal of Metamorphic Geology
, 38
, 2020
, pp.471-493

View All Scopus Publications



Plots of tetrahedral phase diagrams
Plots of tetrahedral phase diagrams made with program TetPlot

I have a number of computer programs that I have written that are available to anyone interested. These include

  • "Gibbs" (Phase diagram calculation, PT paths, pseudosections)
  • "MADPlotter" (Plots results of pseudosection calculations)
  • "GTB" (Thermobarometry)
  • "GeoBaRamanTry" (Calculate isomekes from quartz inclusion barometry)
  • "GarDiff" (Diffusion in garnet)
  • "TetPlot" (Program to plot tetrahedral - and ternary - phase diagrams. In 3-D or stereo pairs)

Other programs include:

  • Simon Peacocks thermal programs "Thicken" and "Contact"
  • Larry Finger's program "Reaction"

All programs are written in FORTRAN and have been compiled using the Absoft Pro Fortran compiler suite for Mac OS. Some programs are also available compiled for Windows.

If you wish copies of any of these, please send me an e-mail and I'll send you the dropbox link

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