River between rocky mountains

Crustal evolution research

Explore our work in crustal evolution, one of our areas of expertise in Earth and Environmental Sciences

Our Crustal Evolution research explores the long-term and large-scale processes that shaped how the Earth developed through time. We look at fundamental changes that created our planet and step closer to doing the same for other planets too.

We’re documenting changes in the style and rate of plate movement and subduction to better understand how tectonics have changed the planet. We’re examining the long-term evolution of the continental crust and how tectonic changes influenced crustal growth and preservation. We’re exploring the evolution of other planets and their moons through the study of meteorites and impact craters.

We're achieving significant impact with our research – from providing foundational knowledge on planetary geology, to solar system exploration missions, such as NASA and ESA Mars rovers (Curiosity, InSight, ExoMars 2020), to creating process-driven models that improve the efficiency of hydrocarbon and metal deposit exploration. Many specialist publications have covered our work, including Nature, Science, Nature Geoscience, Nature Communications and Geology.

Funders and partnerships

Our recent research on new approaches to the radiometric dating of meteorites and meteorite impacts, funded by the Royal Society and National Environment Research Council (NERC), was covered by mainstream media around the world, including The Daily Mail.

Our research is informed by our expertise in fieldwork and lab work – including geochronology, geochemistry and crystallography – and is funded by industry partners and organisations like the Royal Society, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and NERC.

We’re involved in international partnerships with the Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil; the University of Western Ontario, Canada; the Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-Ferrand, France; and Curtin University, Australia. We have an ongoing knowledge-sharing partnership with Chemostrat, a world leader in chemostratigraphy.


The University is home to exceptional facilities, where much of our research takes place, including:

  • Two laser systems (ASi Resolution 193nm excimer and ESi New Wave 213nm Nd:YAG) – a Nu Plasma MC-ICPMS and an Analytik Jena Plasma Quant Elite quadrupole ICP-MS
  • Two Zeiss Evo SEMs, one with a LaB6 source and tungsten. Our LaB6 instrument is equipped with Oxford Instruments EBSD, EDS BE and CL detectors. We specialise in nano- to micro-scale imaging and crystallography of a range of earth materials
  • Two X-ray facilities – a Rigaku WD-XRF and a Panalytical XRD, which can analyse most elements and a wide-range of matrices, both solid and liquid

Publication highlights

Discover our areas of expertise

Crustal evolution is one of our areas of expertise in the Earth and Environmental Sciences research area. Explore the others below.

Engineering Geology and Natural Hazards

We're researching the causes, impacts, preparation for and management of natural anthropogenic phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, debris flows, volcanoes and floods.

Volcanic eruption at Mount Etna
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Environmental processes and impacts

We're looking at the monitoring, movement and impacts of contaminants and pollutants in the environment, and identifying problems and potential solutions.

Pollution from factory rising into a dark grey sky
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Research groups

Centre for Applied Geosciences

We're researching the investigation and management of natural and manmade hazards to help communities adapt to environmental change.

Crustal Evolution Research Group

We're researching the development of plate tectonics throughout history and how these changes have influenced rates of crustal growth.

Interested in a PhD in Earth & Environmental Sciences?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Earth & Environmental Sciences postgraduate research degrees page.