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Dr Owen Weller

Dr Owen Weller


Fellow of Sidney Sussex College

Structural geology & metamorphic petrology

Owen Weller is accepting applications for PhD students.

Office S203, Department of Earth Sciences, Downing St, Cambridge, CB2 3EQ, UK
Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333464


2006–2010: BA/MSci in Natural Sciences, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, UK

2010–2014: DPhil in Earth Science, Exeter College, University of Oxford, UK

2014: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellow, Nagoya University, Japan

2015–2016: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Visiting Fellow, Geological Survey of Canada, Canada

Research Interests

I am interested in structural and metamorphic processes that occur during collisional orogenesis, and how these processes have changed over geological time. I examine these topics by integrating field and petrographic observations with phase equilibria modelling, high-temperature geochronology and trace element geochemistry to produce nuanced interpretations of the tectonothermal history of metamorphic belts. Presently, I am leading a variety of projects within two major research themes:

1. Formation of Archean granite-greenstone belt terranes. In collaboration with the Geological Survey of Canada, I am taking part in a geological study of North Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. This region is of scientific and economic interest as it exposes a classic Archean granite-greenstone belt terrane, with one of the belts host to the world-class Mary River iron deposit. Nevertheless, fundamental questions remain concerning the extent, geometry, age and origin of the belts. These questions will be resolved through targeted mapping, U-Pb geochronology and phase equilibria modelling using newly developed thermodynamic models appropriate for the melting of metabasic lithologies. The results will further our understanding of the formation of continental cratons.

2. Secular change in tectonometamorphic processes. Tectonic regimes on Earth have undergone a secular change in style with an early non-plate tectonic regime giving way to more uniformitarian plate tectonic processes featuring subduction, largely owing to planetary cooling and the resultant effects on lithospheric thickness and strength. However, the timing, details and drivers of this change are debated. I am investigating these questions through applying phase equilibria modelling to explore the effects of a variety of secular changes in bulk compositions on plate dynamics (e.g. evolving sediment compositions effecting melt fertility and therefore the rheological properties of orogens).

Previously, I have conducted research on metamorphic localities from the Tibetan plateau, the Sanbagawa belt of Japan and the Canadian Arctic. These studies have furthered our understanding of metamorphic processes, such as the evolution of thermal gradients during Barrovian metamorphism and the timing of metamorphic zircon crystallisation, and assisted in quantifying regional tectonic models. I have ongoing collaborations with researchers from the University of Oxford, the Geological Survey of Canada and the Colorado School of Mines.

Key Publications

Weller, O.M., and St-Onge, M.R. (2017) Record of modern-style plate tectonics in the Palaeoproterozoic Trans-Hudson orogen. Nature Geoscience 10, 305–311 doi: 10.1038/ngeo2904

Palin, R.M., Reuber, G.S., White, R.W., Kaus, B.J.P., and 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 467, 108–119, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.03.029

Weller, O.M., St-Onge, M.R., Rayner, N., Waters, D.J., Searle, M.P., and Palin, R.M. (2016) U-Pb zircon geochronology and phase equilibria modeling of the Sumdo eclogite, south-east Tibet: insights into metamorphic zircon crystallisation and eclogite exhumation. Lithos 262, 729–741, doi: 10.1016/j.lithos.2016.06.005

Palin, R.M., Weller, O.M., Waters, D.J., and Dyck, B.J. (2016) Quantifying geological uncertainty in metamorphic phase equilibria modeling; a Monte Carlo assessment and implications for tectonic interpretations. Geoscience Frontiers 7, 591–607, doi: 10.1016/j.gsf.2015.08.005

Weller, O.M., St-Onge, M.R., Rayner, N., Searle, M.P., and Waters, D.J. (2016) Miocene magmatism in the Western Nyainqentanglha mountains of southern Tibet: an exhumed bright spot? Lithos 245, 147–160, doi: 10.1016/j.lithos.2015.06.024

Weller, O.M., Wallis, S.R., Aoya, M., and Nagaya, T. (2015) Phase equilibria modelling of blueschist and eclogite from the Sanbagawa metamorphic belt of south-west Japan reveals along-strike consistency in tectonothermal architecture. Journal of Metamorphic Geology 33, 579–596, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12134

Weller, O.M., St-Onge, M.R., Searle, M.P., Waters, D.J., Rayner, N., Chung, S.L., Palin, R.M., and Chen, S. (2015) Quantifying the PTt conditions of north-south Lhasa terrane accretion: new insight into the pre-Himalayan architecture of the Tibetan plateau. Journal of Metamorphic Geology 33, 91–113, doi: 10.1111/jmg.12112

Weller, O.M., Dyck, B.J., St-Onge, M.R., Rayner, N., and Tschirhart, V. (2015) Completing the bedrock mapping of southern Baffin Island, Nunavut: plutonic suites and regional stratigraphy. Summary of Activities 2015, Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office, p. 33–48.

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

Weller, O.M. Lange, D., Tilmann, F., Natawidjaja, D., Rietbrock, A., Collings, R., and Gregory, L. (2012) The structure of the Sumatran Fault revealed by local seismicity. Geophysical Research Letters 39, 1–7, doi: 10.1029/2011GL050440