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Professor Colin Macpherson

Professor, Chair of Board of Examiners

Professor, Chair of Board of Examiners in the Department of Earth Sciences+44 (0) 191 33 42283


2014 – present Professor, University of Durham

2009 – 2014 Reader, University of Durham

2006 – 2009  Senior Lecturer, University of Durham.

2000 – 2006  Lecturer, University of Durham.

1999 – 2000  Postdoctoral Researcher, Royal Holloway University of London.

1996 – 1998  Postdoctoral Researcher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA

1994 – 1996  Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Career Research Highlights

Colin has applied new and established geochemical techniques in innovative ways to understand the origins of magmatism and its relationship to tectonics. He has developed particular expertise in SE Asia and the western Pacific where he has studied subduction initiation, lithosphere erosion, mantle melting, crustal growth and recycling of subducted crust and sediment. More recently, Colin has begun to apply image analysis techniques to understand the dstribution of magmatism. Colin has also conducted pioneering work in the analysis and use of light elements to investigate magmatic processes, in recognition of which he received the Geological Society’s Wollaston Fund in 2007. He was responsible for establishing the stable isotope laboratory at Durham.

Committee and Society Service

2017 – 2021 — Staff Member of Durham University Council

2014 – 2017 — Head of Department, Earth Sciences, University of Durham

2012 – 2016 — Chair of NERC Isotope Geoscience Facilities Steering Committee

2008 – 2012 — NERC Isotope Geoscience Facilities Steering Committee member

2005 – 2014 — Co-Leader, Commission on Subduction Zone Magmatism (IAVCEI).

2004 – 2007 — Committee Member, Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group.

Conferences and Workshops


2020 — EGU General Assembly, Vienna: Subduction zones: volatiles, dynamics, and melt.

2019 — 27th Goldschmidt Meeting, Barcelona: Pathways and Processes in Differentiation of Arc Magmatic Systems.

2019 — EGU General Assembly, Vienna: Subduction zones: volatiles, dynamics, and melt.


2019 — VoiLA Large Grant Workshop, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

Invited Keynotes

2019 Carbonate Assimilation by Sunda Arc Magma at Sumbing Volcano, Central Java, Indonesia Goldschmidt Meeting, Barcelona.

Membership of Organisations and Societies

American Geophysical Union

Geochemical Society

Geological Society of London (Fellow)

Prizes & Awards

2007 — Wollaston Fund, Geological Society of London

2004 — Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Durham

Recent and Current Grants

2017 — Leverhulme Research Fellowship - PI - Fingerprinting Interaction of Magma and Carbonate

2014 — NERC Large Grant - co-I - Tellurium and Selenium Cycling and Supply (TeASe)

2013 — NERC Catalyst Grant - co-I - Processes governing semi-metal - PGE linkage in crustal magmatic systems: opportunities for discovery and recovery

2013 — NERC Large Grant - co-I - Volatile Recycling in the Lesser Antilles Arc (VoiLA): Processes and Consequences

2011 — EU (EuroPlanet) - PI - Determining Mantle Sources and Magma Degassing of Kermadec Arc Magmatism using Noble Gases

2009 — NERC Facility Grant - PI -Determining rates of convergent margin propagation and lithospheric thinning in the east Philippines

2009 — EU TransNational Access Activities (EuroPlanet) - PI -Determining Mantle Sources and Magma Degassing of Tonga Arc Magmatism using Noble Gases

Responsibilities in Department

Research interests

  • Subduction-related magmatism
  • Light elements in magmatic systems
  • Magmatism and tectonics in SE Asia and the western Pacific
  • Crustal growth and development in subduction zones
  • Sources and degassing of magmatic volatiles
  • Development of high precision stable isotope techniques

Esteem Indicators

  • 2007: Geological Society of London Wollaston Fund 2006:


Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students