Mitchell McMillan

Continental orogenesis

My primary research interest involves understanding how mountain belts (de)form, especially large orogenic plateaus such as the Central Andes and Tibet. In addition to the typical forces that build and tear down mountains, my work focuses on poorly constrained (in some cases overlooked) processes that may nevertheless control major aspects of mountain building and topography. These include wind erosion, eclogitization (the formation of a dense crustal root), and lithospheric foundering (the removal of the root). I use a combination of geologic mapping, structural analysis, thermochronology, and numerical modelling to address research questions. The most comprehensive synthesis of this research is currently my Ph.D. thesis, which can be accessed here.

A few papers have been published, including first-author and co-authored contributions, and more are in the works. For those, see the links at the top of the page.

The following articles describe some of these topics in more detail.

Lithospheric dripping
Enigmatic geodynamic processes that may affect the evolution of mountain belts.
geodynamicsorogenesisnumerical modelling
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Thermodynamics of lower crustal buoyancy.
thermodynamicsfluid-mediated reactionscrustal metamorphism
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Wind erosion
Hyperarid regions, such as orogenic plateaus, are mainly eroded by wind, rather than rivers or glaciers
eolian processesclimate-tectonics interactions
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Streambank erosion (M.Sc. thesis)
Applying models to predict streambank erosion rate in the Gulf Coastal plain.
fluvial geomorphologynumerical modellingenvironmental geology
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