Robert Stern

Professor - Geosciences
Google Scholar
Tags: volcanism associated with convergent plate margins (subduction zones) how new subduction zones form how Earth's continental crust is generated and destroyed plate tectonic genesis geologic evolution of the Middle East formation of the Gulf of Mexico geology of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Earth Sciences
UC San Diego - 1979
B.Sc. - Geology
University of California at Davis - 1974

Research Areas

Research Interests
 My research interests include:

  1.  Evolution of the continental crust as approached by tectonic, chemical, and isotopic studies of modern processes and ancient products. Geographic foci of such studies include Izu-Bonin-Mariana island arc system in the Western Pacific, Neoproterozoic crust of NE Africa and Arabia, China, and Iran. These processes and products are studied using a wide range of analytical techniques, including major and trace element analyses, and radiogenic isotopic compositions of Sr, Nd, and Pb, and U-Pb zircon geochronology.
  2.  Geologic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico
  3.  Geology of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
  4.  Scientific ocean drilling
  5. Geoscience videos and animations


Reply to comment on “Jurassic igneous rocks of the central Sanandaj–Sirjan zone (Iran) mark a propagating continental rift, not a magmatic arc (Azizi and Stern, Terra Nova, 31(5), 415–423, 2019)” 2020 - Journal Article
Seismic evidence for subduction-induced mantle flows underneath Middle America 2020 - Journal Article
The Paleogene ophiolite conundrum of the Iran–Iraq border region 2020 - Journal Article
The Atud gabbro–diorite complex: glimpse of the Cryogenian mixing, assimilation, storage and homogenization zone beneath the Eastern Desert of Egypt 2020 - Journal Article
Poloidal‐ and Toroidal‐Mode Mantle Flows Underneath the Cascadia Subduction Zone 2020 - Journal Article
Neotethyan Subduction Ignited the Iran Arc and Backarc Differently 2020 - Journal Article
Lateral propagation–induced subduction initiation at passive continental margins controlled by preexisting lithospheric weakness 2020 - Journal Article
Reconciling Orogenic Drivers for the Evolution of the Bangong‐Nujiang Tethys During Middle‐Late Jurassic 2020 - Journal Article
Glimpses of oceanic lithosphere of the Challenger Deep forearc segment in the southernmost Marianas: The 143°E transect, 5800–4200 m 2020 - Journal Article
Jurassic igneous rocks of the central Sanandaj–Sirjan zone (Iran) mark a propagating continental rift, not a magmatic arc 2019 - Journal Article


Tectonics Observatory Fellow
California Institute of Technology [2006–2006]
Blaustein Fellow
Stanford University [2005–2005]
The University of Texas at Dallas [1997–2005]
Professor with Tenure
The University of Texas at Dallas [1991–Present]
Associate Professor with Tenure
The University of Texas at Dallas [1987–1991]
Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [1982–1987]
Post-doctoral fellow
Carnegie Institution of Washington [1979–1981]

Additional Information

  • American Geophysical Union
  • Geological Society of America (Fellow)
Departmental and University Committee & Service
  • UTD Freshman Advisor (1990-1991)
  • UTD Committee on Educational Policy (1990-1992); (1995-1998)
  • UTD Academic Senate (1991-1993)
  • UTD Program Review Committee (1992-1996); Committee on Committees (1994-1995)
  • UTD Committee on Committees (1994-1995)
  • UTD Committee on Educational Policy, Vice-Chair (1995-1996)
  • UTD Committee on Educational Policy, Chair (1996-1998)
  • UTD Committee on Student Scholarships (1998- 2000)
  • Departmental Management Advisory Committee (1984-1985)
  • Geosciences Seminar Chairman (Spring, 1986; 1993-1994)
  • University Safety Committee (1986-1988)
  • Geosciencess Undergraduate Advisor (1987-1990)
  • Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, Natural Sciences and Mathematics (1989)
  • Chairman, Geosciences Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (1990)
  • Geosciences Department Head (1997- 2005)
  • Geosciences Graduate Advisor (1995-1997; 2006- )
  • Review committee for Dept. of Math and Science Ed (2006)
  • Ad Hoc Committee for Dr. Homer Montgomery (2006-2007)
  • MSET Building committee (2007- )
Reviews ( 1982-present)
Journals: Served as a reviewer for the following Journals
  • Bulletin of the Geological Society of America
  • Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Science Letters
  • Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
  • Geology
  • Journal of African Earth Sciences
  • Joumal of Petrology
  • Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
  • Tectonophysics
  • Journal of Geophysical Research
  • International Journal of Remote Sensing
  • Nature
  • Science
  • Precambrian Research
  • Geologische Rundschau
  • Marine Geology
  • Chemical Geology
Editorial Boards: Served on Editorial Boards of the following journals
  • Geology (1987-1989; 2000-2003 )
  • Geologische Rundschauf Internationakl Journal of Earth Sciences (1994- )
  • Precambrian Research (1996- )
  • Journal of Geophysical Research (1998- 2001)
  • Journal of the Faculty of Science, United Arab Emirates University (2003- )
Proposals: Served as a Reviewer for Proposals from the following agencies
  • NSF: Earth Science: Crustal Structure and Tectonics
  • NSF: Earth Science: Petrogenesis and Mineral Resources
  • NSF: Earth Science: Instrumentation and Facilities
  • NSF: Earth Science: Volcanology and Mantle Geochemistry
  • NSF: Division of Polar Programs
  • NSF: Oceanography: Marine Geology and Geophysics
  • NSF/USGS: Deep Observation and Sampling of the Ea1th's Continental Crust.
  • NASA: Earth Sciences and Applications Division
Committees & Panels
  • NSF MARGINS Steering Committee (1996-1999)
  • NSF Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Panel (2000-2002)
  • NSF-DUE-STEM Talent Expansion Program Panel 4/04
  • NSF-DUE-Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars Panel 12/04
  • NSF-MARGINS Panel 2/05
Departmental Reviews
  • U. Houston Geosciences Dept. April 2002
  • Caltech Tectonics Observatory Nov. 2006
  • UTD Science and Math Education Dept. Nov. 2006
Workshop/Conference Convenor
  • US-Japan Workshop on Geophysical and Geochemical studies of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc System (with M.Arima): July 27-August 2, 1996, Hayama, Japan. (85 participants; NSF funded)
  • NSF-IFREE-Margins Workshop on the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Subduction System (with J. Gill, S. Klemperer, and D.Wiens): Sept. 8-12, 2002, Honolulu (98 participants, NSF funded)
  • MARGINS-IFREE mini workshop on IODP drilling in the IBM Arc System at fall AGU meeting (12/04)
  • Geological Society of America Penrose Conference "When Did Plate Tectonics Begin on Earth? Theoretical and Empirical ConstraintsE" (with K. Condie and A. Kroner) 13-19 June 2006E Lander, Wyoming USA (64 participants)

News Articles

Professor Journeys Once More Into the Deep
No strangers to the craggy landscape of undersea volcanoes, Geosciences Professor Dr. Robert J. Stern and graduate student Julia Ribeiro are once again on their way to the Western Pacific Ocean near Guam. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Stern and Ribeiro will study submarine volcanoes in the Mariana Islands in early February. The region includes the U.S. territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The team sets sail from Guam aboard the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology Research Vessel Natsushima and will take along an unmanned, tethered submarine robot called a HYPER-DOLPHIN. Such sophisticated “remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)” allow researchers to study the sea floor and collect rock samples. ROVs allow a team of scientists to observe the sea floor, a distinct advantage over more limited manned submersibles.
UT Dallas Geoscientist Stern to Help Lead International Field Conference in Egypt
University of Texas at Dallas geoscientist Dr. Robert J. Stern will help lead an international field conference in the Eastern Desert of Egypt Feb. 17-24. Nineteen scientists from eight countries are expected to participate in the conference, the aim of which is to advance the study of the region’s continental crust, known as the Arabian-Nubian Shield, and how it was formed 800 million to 500 million years ago. Stern is the former head of the UT Dallas Geosciences Department and remains a professor in that department. His research interests include the evolution of the continental crust, the layer of rocks which forms the continents and the adjoining continental shelves, both in the Arabian-Nubian Shield and in the island arcs in the Western Pacific Ocean. Stern and two scientists from Sweden will lead the trip. The field conference is financed in part by a grant from the Swedish International Development Agency for the Middle East and North Africa.
Geoscientist Finds Surprise Hidden in the Pacific
UT Dallas geoscientist Dr. Robert J. Stern and former master’s student Neil Basu were part of a research team that discovered and studied an extinct underwater volcano near the southern Mariana islands, near Guam, in the western Pacific Ocean. The volcano lies more than 300 meters below the ocean surface and contains a large volcanic depression, or caldera, that is comparable in size to better-known examples Krakatoa (Indonesia) and Crater Lake, Ore. It was named “West Rota Volcano” because of its proximity to the island of Rota in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The results of the research were published in a recent edition of the scientific journal The Island Arc.
Researcher Discusses Continental Shelf Formation
Dr. Robert Stern, a professor and researcher in the Center for Lithospheric Studies and Department of Geosciences, delivered a keynote address at a recent conference on continental shelf formation. Stern’s talk, given in collaboration with geoscientists from University of Arizona and Missouri State University, discussed the early evolution of the Texas-Louisiana margin and continental shelf. The conference, titled “Rift Renaissance: Stretching the Crust and Extending Exploration Frontiers,” was held in Houston. The conference explored aspects of how continents break apart to form new oceans and continental margins in terms of new geodynamic models. The agenda included presentations from leading geoscientists, as well as reports from major energy companies.
Geosciences Professor Garners International Prize
Dr. Robert Stern, professor of geosciences in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has been awarded the 2019 International Prize of the Geological Society of Japan for his contributions to geological research.

The citation for the award notes Stern’s status as a world leader in the fields of geology, petrology, geochemistry and geochronology. The award recognizes his outstanding contributions to the geoscience community in Japan through research exchange and academic cooperation.

A fellow of the Geological Society of America and of the American Geophysical Union, Stern has studied complex geological systems from the Pacific Ocean to the African desert. His research has led to a better understanding of how new subduction zones form and the evolution of plate tectonics throughout Earth’s history.


Geoscience Studios
Micro-Imaging Lab
Wikipedia entry


Deve1opment of a New Undergraduate Science Service Course to Attract Hispanic Students to Science: Geography, Resources, and Environment of Hispanic America
$69,992 - NSF-EHR-DUE-CCLI [2003–2005]
Testing Models of Crustal Growth in the Neoproterozoic Arabian-Nubian Shield
$154,798 - NSF-EAR-Petrology & Geochemistry [2003–2005]
North American Earth Structure: The Melding of Petrological Study of Xenoliths and Geophysical Data
$55,488 - TARP [9–8]
Field, Remote Sensing and Geochemical Studies of Neoproterozoic Banded Iron Formation in the Eastern Desert of Egypt
$37,741 - NSF-EAR [9–8]
US-Ethiopian Cooperative Research: Studies of Snowball Earth
$26,908 - NSF-INT [9–8]