Robert Stern

Professor - Geosciences
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


The Eastern Khoy Metamorphic Complex of NW Iran: a Jurassic ophiolite or continuation of the Sanandaj-Sirjan Zone? 2018 - Journal Article
The evolution of plate tectonics 2018 - Journal Article
Neoproterozoic formation and evolution of Eastern Desert continental crust – The importance of the infrastructure-superstructure transition 2018 - Journal Article
One or Two Early Cretaceous Arc Systems in the Lhasa Terrane, Southern Tibet 2018 - Journal Article
Did the transition to plate tectonics cause Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth? 2018 - Journal Article
Continental crust of China: A brief guide for the perplexed 2018 - Journal Article
Diffuse Extension of the Southern Mariana Margin 2018 - Journal Article
Stagnant lid tectonics: Perspectives from silicate planets, dwarf planets, large moons, and large asteroids 2017 - 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

Graduate Students Supervised
  • K. Massey (M.S. awarded Dec. 1984)
  • D. Voegeli (M.S. awarded Aug. 1985)
  • J. Reilly, H (M.S. awarded Dec. 1987)
  • P.-N. Lin (Ph.D. awarded Aug. 1989)
  • E. Best (M.S. awarded August 1989)
  • T. Webb (M.S. awarded August 1992)
  • M.G. Abdel-Salam (Ph.D. awarded 1993)
  • R. Gribble (Ph.D. awarded Dec. 1995)
  • J. Lee (Ph.D. awarded Aug. 1995)
  • J. Winkler (M.S. awarded Dec. 1995)
  • C.-H. Sun (Ph.D. awarded August 1999)
  • S. Danishwar Khan (Ph.D. awarded 2001)
  • J. Volesky (Ph.D. awarded 2002)
  • A.Thurmond (M.S. awarded 2002)
  • U. S. Hargrove IH (Ph.D. awarded 2006)
  • N. Basu (MS awarded 2006)
  • K. Ali (PhD in progress)
  • S. Mukherjee (PhD in progres)
  • U. Raye (PhD in progress)

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]