John Cottle

Associate Professor

Office Hours


Contact Phone


Office Location

Webb 2031A


Tectonics and Geochronology 



D.Phil. Earth Science, University of Oxford. 2008 M.Sc. Geology, University of Otago. 2002 B.Sc. Geology, University of Otago. 2000


My main research interests lie in the field of continental tectonics and focus on combining structural analysis, geothermobarometry, igneous and metamorphic petrology with high resolution U(-Th)-Pb isotope geochronology to identify and constrain the temporal and spatial scale of processes that serve to modify and/or produce new continental crust. I am particularly interested in the metamorphic, magmatic and tectonic evolution of the Ama Drime Massif and Everest Himalaya in southern Tibet and the TransAntarctic Mountains. I am currently developing U-Pb laser ablation capabilities on a Nu Instruments 'AttoM' Single Collector ICP-MS.

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Google Scholar Citations        Researcher ID citations


59. Pingel, H., Mulch, A., Alonso, R.N., Cottle, J.M., Hynek, S.A., Poletti, J., Rohrmann, A., Schmitt, A.K., Stockli, D.F., Strecker, M.R. Accepted. Surface uplift and convective rainfall along the southern Central Andes (Angastaco Basin, NW Argentina). Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

58. Poletti, J. Cottle, J.M., Hagen-Peter, G. Accepted. Petrochronologic Constraints on the Origin of the Mountain Pass Carbonatite and Ultrapotassic intrusive Suites, California. Journal of Petrology.

57. Jessup, M.J., Langille, J.M., Cottle, J.M., Ahmad, T. 2016. Crustal thickening, Barrovian metamorphism, and exhumation of mid-crustal rocks during doming and extrusion: Insights from the Himalaya, NW India. Tectonics, 34. doi: 10.1002/2015TC003962. Jessup_etal_2016_Tectonics

56. Stearns, M.A., Cottle, J.M., Hacker, B.R., Kylander-Clark, A.R.C. 2016. Extracting thermal histories from the near-rim zoning in titanite using coupled U-Pb and trace-element depth profiles by single-shot laser-ablation split stream (SS-LASS) ICP-MS. Chemical Geology, 422, 13-24.  doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.12.011  Stearns_etal_2015_ChemGeol

55. Hagen-Peter, G. Cottle J.M., Smit, M.A. 2016. Insights into the early stages of a convergent margin through coupled garnet Lu-Hf and monazite U-Th-Pb petrochronology: Pre-magmatic metamorphism in the Ross orogen, Antarctica. Journal of Metamorphic Geology.

54. Gibson, R., Godin, L., Kellett, D.A., Cottle, J.M., Archibald, D. 2016. Deformation variability along strike of the central Himalayan lower metamorphic core: Strain and geochronologic analyses. GSA Bulletin.

53. Samperton, K.M., Schoene, B., Cottle, J.M., Keller, B.C., Crowley, J.L., Schmitz, M.D. 2015. Magma emplacement, differentiation and cooling in the middle crust: integrated zircon geochronological–geochemical constraints from the Bergell Intrusion, Central Alps. Chemical Geology, 417, 322-340. Samperton_etal_2015_ChemGeol

52. Larson, K.P., Ambrose, T.K., Webb, A.A., Cottle, J.M., Shrestha, S. 2015. Reconciling Himalayan Midcrustal Discontinuities: The Main Central Thrust System. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 429, 139-146. Larson_etal_2015_EPSL

51. Cottle, J.M., Larson, K.P.,  Kellett, D.A. 2015. How Does the Mid-crust Accommodate Deformation in Large, Hot Collisional Orogens? A review of recent research in the Himalayan Orogen. Journal of Structural Geology, 78, 119-133. doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2015.06.008. Invited Review Article. Cottle_etal_2015_JSG

50. Nagy, C., Godin, L., Antolin, B., Cottle, J.M., Archibald, D. 2015. Mid-Miocene Initiation of Orogen-Parallel Extension, NW Nepal Himalaya. GSA Lithosphere. doi: 10.1130/L425.1 Nagy_etal_2015_Lithosphere

49. Streit, R.L., Burbank, D.W., Strecker, M.R., Alonso, R.N., Cottle, J.M., & Kylander-Clark, A.R. 2015. Controls on intermontane basin filling, isolation, and incision on the margin of the Puna Plateau, NW Argentina (~23°S). Basin Research. doi: 10.1111/bre.12141  Streit_etal_2015_Basin_Research

48. Faisal, S., Larson, K.P., King, J., & Cottle, J.M. 2015. Rifting, subduction and collisional records from pluton petrogenesis and geochronology in the Hindu Kush, NW Pakistan. Gondwana Research, . doi:10.1016/  Faisal_etal_2015_Gondwana-Research

47. Holder, R.M.,Hacker, B.R., Kylander-Clark, A.R., Cottle, J.M., 2015. Monazite trace-element and isotopic signatures of (ultra)high-pressure metamorphism: Examples from the Western Gneiss Region, Norway. Chemical Geology. doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.04.021. Holder_etal_2015_ChemGeol

46. Cottle, J.M., Searle, M.P., Jessup, M.J., Crowley, J.L., & Law, R.D. 2015. Rongbuk Re-visited: Geochronology of Leucogranites in the Footwall of the South Tibetan Detachment System, Everest Region, Southern Tibet. Lithos. doi:10.1016/j.lithos.2015.03.019. Cottle_etal_2015_Lithos

45. Ambrose, T.K., Larson, K.P., Guilmette, C., Cottle, J.M., Buckingham, H., Rai, S. 2015. Lateral extrusion, underplating and out-of-sequence thrusting within the Himalayan metamorphic core, Kanchenjunga, Nepal. GSA Lithosphere.  doi: 10.1130/L437.1 Ambrose_etal_2015_Lithosphere

44. Larson, K.P. & Cottle, J.M. 2015. Initiation of crustal shortening in the Himalaya. Terra Nova. doi/10.1111/ter.12145. Larson_&_Cottle_2015_TerraNova

43. McKinney, S.T., Cottle, J.M., Lederer, G. 2015. Evaluating Rare Earth Element (REE) mineralization mechanisms in Proterozoic gneiss, Music Valley, California. GSA Bulletin. doi:10.1130/B31165.1 McKinney_etal_2015_GSAB

42. Stevens, L.M., Baldwin, J.A., Cottle, J.M., Kylander-Clark, A.R.C. 2015. Phase equilibria modeling and LASS monazite petrochronology: P-T-t constraints on the evolution of the Priest River core complex, northern Idaho. Journal of Metamorphic Geology. doi: 10.1111/jmg.12125.  Stevens_etal_JMG

41. Hagen-Peter, G. Cottle J.M., Tulloch, A.J., Cox, S.C.  2015. Mixing between lithospheric mantle and crustal components in a short-lived subduction-related magma system in the Dry Valleys area, Antarctica: Insights from U-Pb and Hf isotopes and whole-rock geochemistry. GSA Lithosphere. doi:10.1130/L384.1 Hagen-Peter_etal_Lithosphere

40. Langille, J.M., Jessup M.J., Cottle J.M., Ahmad, T. 2014. Kinematic and thermal studies of the Leo Pargil Dome: Implications for the tectonic evolution of extension in the northwest Indian Himalaya. Tectonics, 33, 1766-1786. doi: 10.1002/2014TC003593.  Langille_etal_Tectonics

39. From, R., Larson, K.P., Cottle, J.M. Metamorphism and Geochronology of the Exhumed Himalayan Mid-crust, Likhu Khola Region, East-central Nepal: Recognition of a Tectonometamorphic Discontinuity. GSA Lithosphere, 6, 361-376. doi:10.1130/L381.1. From_etal_Lithosphere

38. Faisal, S., Larson, K.P., Cottle, J.M., Lamming, J. 2014. Building the Hindu Kush: monazite records of terrance accretion, plutonism, and the evolution of the Himalaya-Karakoram-Tibet orogeny. Terra Nova. 5, 395-401. DOI: 10.1111/ter.12112. Faisal_etal_Terra-Nova

37. Cottle, J.M. 2014. In-situ Geochronology of Uranothorite. American Mineralogist. 99, 1985-1995. doi: 10.2138/am-2014-4920   Cottle_2014_Am-Min

36. Larson, K.P. & Cottle, J.M. 2014. Midcrustal Discontinuities and the Assembly of the Himalayan mid-crust. Tectonics. DOI: 10.1002/2013TC003452 Larson_&_Cottle_2014_Tectonics Honorable mention’ for the best Structural Geology and Tectonics paper in Canada for 2014. 

35. Kellett, D.A., Cottle J.M., Smit, M.A. 2014. Eocene Deep Crust at Ama Drime Tibet: Early Evolution of the Himalayan Orogen. GSA Lithosphere. Kellett_etal_2014_Lithosphere

34. Cottle, J.M., Burrows, A.J., Kylander-Clark, A., Freedman, P.A. & Cohen, R. 2013. Enhanced sensitivity in laser ablation multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry. doi: 10.1039/C3JA50216C  Cottle_etal_2013_JAAS

33. Lederer., G., Cottle, J.M., Jessup, M.J., Langille, J., Ahmad, T. 2013. Time-scales of partial melting in the Himalayan Middle-Crust: insight from the Leo Pargil Dome, Northwest India. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. doi: 10.1007/s00410-013-0935-9 Lederer_etal_2013_CMP

32. Rose, C.V., Maloof, A.C., Schoene, B., Ewing, R.C., Linnemann, U., Hofmanm, M., Cottle, J.M. 2013. The end Cryogenian glaciation of South Australia. Geoscience Canada. Rose_etal_2013_Geoscience-Canada

31. Stearns, Hacker, B.R., Ratschbacher, L., Lee, J., Cottle, J.M., and Kylander-Clark, A.R.C. 2013. Synchronous Oligocene-Miocene metamorphism of the Pamir and North Himalaya driven by plate-scale dynamics. Geology, 41, 1071-1074. doi: 10.1130/G34451.1.  Stearns_etal_2013_Geology

30. Kylander-Clark, A.R.C., Hacker, B.R., Cottle, J.M. 2013. Laser-Ablation Split-Stream ICP Petrochronology. Chemical Geology, 345, 99-112. doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2013.019. Kylander-Clark_etal_2013_ChemGeol

29. MacFadden B.J., Zeitler, P.K., Anaya, F., and Cottle, J.M. 2013. Confirmation of the middle Pleistocene age of the fossiliferous sedimentary sequence at Tarija, Bolivia. Quaternary Research. 79, 268-273. doi: 10.1016/jyqres.2012.12.009. MacFadden_etal_2013_QuatRes

28. Spencer, K., Hacker, B.R., Kylander-Clark, A.R.C., Andersen, T., Cottle, J.M., Stearns, M.A., Poletti, J., and Seward, G. 2013. Campaign-Style Titanite U-Pb Dating by ICP: Implications for Crustal Flow, Phase Transformations and Titanite Closure. Chemical Geology, 341, 84-101. doi: 10.1016/j/chemgeo.2012.11.012. Spencer_etal_2013_ChemGeol

27. Kellett, D.A., Grujic, D., Coutand, I., Cottle, J.M., Mukul, M. 2013. The South Tibetan detachment system, Sikkim Himalaya facilitates ultra rapid cooling of granulite-facies rocks. Tectonics. doi: 10.1002/tect.20014.  Kellett_etal_2013_Tectonics

26. Cottle J.M., Kylander-Clark, A.R.C., Vrijmoed, J.C. 2012. U-Th/Pb Geochronology of Detrital zircon and monazite by Single Shot Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (SS-LA-ICPMS). Chemical Geology, 332-333, 136-147. doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2012.09.035. Cottle_etal_2012_ChemGeol

25. Langille, J.M., Jessup M.J., Cottle, J.M., Lederer, G., Ahmad, T. 2012. Timing of metamorphism, melting, and exhumation of the Leo Pargil dome, NW India. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 30, 769-791. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1314.2012.00998.x. Langille_etal_2012_JMG

24. Mantilla, F.L.C., Bissig, T., Cottle, J.M., Hart, C. 2012. Remains of Early Ordovician mantle-derived magmatism in the Santander Massif (Colombian Eastern Cordillera). Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 38, 1-12. Mantilla-Figueroa_etal_2012_JSAES

23. Streule, M.J., Carter, A., Searle, M.P., Cottle, J.M. 2012. Brittle field exhumation of the Everest-Makalu section of the Greater Himalayan Sequence constrained by fission track data. Tectonics, 31, TC3010, doi:10.1029/2011TC003062. Streule_etal_2012_Tectonics

22. Rose, C.V., Swanson-Hysell, N.L., Husson, J.M., Poppick, L.N., Cottle, J.M., Schoene, B., Maloof, A.C. 2012. Constraints on the origin and relative timing of Trezona d13C anomaly below the end-Cryogenian glaciation. Earth and Planetary Science letters, 319, 241-250. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.12.027 Rose_etal_2012_Trezona

21. Schmidt, J., Hacker, B.R., Ratschbacher, L., Stubner, K., Sterns, M., Kylander-Clark, A.R., Cottle, J.M., Webb, A.R., Gehrels, G., Minaev, V. 2011. Cenozoic deep crust in the Pamir. Earth & Planetary Science Letters, 312, 411-421. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.10.034. Schmidt_etal_2011_Pamir_EPSL

20. Law, R.D., Jessup, M.J., Searle, M.P., Francsis, M.K., Waters, D.J., Cottle, J.M. 2011. Telescoping of isotherms beneath the South Tibetan Detachment System, Mount Everest Massif. Journal of Structural Geology. 33, 1569-1594. Law_etal_2011_JSG

19. Larson, K.P., Cottle, J.M., Godin, L. 2011. Geochronologic record of the upper Greater Himalayan sequence, Manaslu-Himal Chuli Himalaya, west-central Nepal. GSA Lithosphere. Larson_etal_2011_Lithosphere.

18. Warren, C.J.,Grujic, D., Cottle, J.M., Rogers, N.W. 2011. Constraining cooling histories: rutile and titanite chronology and diffusion modelling in NW Bhutan. Journal of Metamorphic Geology. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1314.2011.00958.x. Warren_etal_2011_JMG

17. Warren, C.J., Kellett, D.A., Cottle, J.M., Jamieson, R.A. & Galley, K.S. 2011. Probing the depths of the India-Asia collision: U-Th-Pb monazite chronology of granulites from NW Bhutan. Tectonics. TC002738 Warren_etal_2011_Tectonics.pdf

16. Cottle, J.M., Waters, D.J., Riley, D., Beyssac, O., Jessup, M.J. 2011. Metamorphic history of the South Tibetan Detachment System, Mt. Everest Region, Revealed by RSCM Thermometry and Phase Equilibria Modeling. Journal of Metamorphic Geology. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1314.2011.00930.x Cottle_etal_2011_JMG.pdf

15. Kellett, D.A., Grujic, D., Warren, C., Cottle, J.M., Jamieson, R.,& Tenzin, T. 2010. Metamorphic history of a syn-convergent orogen-parallel detachment: The South Tibetan detachment system, Bhutan Himalaya. Journal of Metamorphic Geology. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1314.2010.00893.x Kellett_etal_2010_JMG.pdf

14. Jessup, M.J. & Cottle, J.M. 2010. Progression from South-Directed Extrusion to Orogen-Parallel Extension in the Southern Margin of the Tibetan Plateau, Mount Everest Region, Tibet. Journal of Geology Jessup_&_Cottle_2010_JoG.pdf

13. Langille, J.M., Jessup, M.J., Cottle, J.M., Newell, D.L., & Seward, G. 2010. Kinematic evolution of the Ama Drime detachment: Insights into orogen-parallel extension and exhumation of the Ama Drime Massif, Tibet-Nepal. Journal of Structural Geology.  Langille_etal_2010_JSG.pdf

12. Searle, M.P., Cottle, J.M., Streule, M.J., & Waters, D.J. 2010. Crustal melt granites and migmatites along the Himalaya: melt source, segregation, transport and granite emplacement mechanisms. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Hutton VI Special volume 100, 219-233 Searle_etal_2010_Hutton.pdf

11. Cottle, J.M., Searle, M.P., Horstwood, M.S.A., and Waters, D.J. 2009c: Timing of Mid-crustal metamorphism, melting and deformation in the Mt. Everest region of southern Tibet revealed by U(-Th)-Pb geochronology.  Journal of Geology vol. 117, no. 6 doi: 10.1086/605994  Cottle_etal_2009_JoG.pdf

10. Cottle, J.M., Horstwood, M.S.A., and Parrish, R.R. 2009b: A new approach to single shot laser ablation analysis and its application to in-situ geochronology.  Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry. doi: 10.1039/b821899d   Cottle_etal_2009_JAAS.pdf

9. Cottle, J.M., Jessup, M.J., Newell, D.L., Horstwood, M.S.A., Searle, M.P., Parrish, R.R., Waters, D.J., and Searle, M.P. 2009a: Geochronology of granulitized eclogite from the Ama Drime Massif: Implications for the tectonic evolution of the South Tibetan Himalaya, Tectonics, 28, TC1002, doi:10.1029/2008TC002256. Cottle_etal_2009_Tectonics.pdf

8. Searle, M.P., Law, R.D., Godin, L., Larson, K.P., Streule, M.J., Cottle, J.M., & Jessup, M.J. 2008: Defining the Himalayan Main Central Thrust in Nepal. Journal of Geological Society of London, v.165, p.523-534 doi: 10.1144/0016-76492007-081 Searle_etal_2008_JGSL.pdf

7. Newell, D.L., Jessup, M.J., Cottle, J.M., Hilton, D.R., Fischer, T. & Sharp, Z. 2008. Geochemistry of mineral springs of the southern Tibetan Plateau, Mount Everest region; a geochemical window into three structural levels. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst.,  doi:10.1029/2008GC002021 Newell_etal_2008_G3.pdf

6. Jessup, M.J., Cottle, J.M., Searle, M.P., Law, R.D., Tracy, R.J., Newell, D.L. & Waters, D.J. 2008. P-T-t-D paths of the Everest Series schist, Nepal. Journal of Metamorphic Geology. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1314.2008.00784.x Jessup_etal_2008_JMG.pdf

5. Jessup, M.J., Newell, D.L., Cottle, J.M.,  Berger, A.L, & Spotila, J.A 2008. Orogen-parallel extension and exhumation enhanced by denudation in the Trans-Himalayan Arun River gorge, Ama Drime Massif, Tibet-Nepal. Geology, 36, 7 587-590. Jessup_etal_2008_Geology.pdf

4. Cottle, J.M., Jessup, M.J., Newell, D.L., Searle, M.P., Law, R.D. Horstwood, M.S.A. 2007. Structural insights into the early stages of exhumation along an orogen-scale detachment: the South Tibetan Detachment System, Dzakaa Chu section, Eastern Himalaya. Journal of Structural Geology, 29(11), p.1781-1797 doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2007.08.007  Cottle_etal_2007_JSG.pdf - Awarded "Top-50 most cited articles" Journal of Structural Geology 2005-2010

3. Searle, M.P., Noble, S.R., Cottle, J.M., Waters, D.J., Mitchell, A.H., Hlaing, T., & Horstwood, M.S.A. 2007: Tectonic evolution of the Mogok metamorphic belt, Burma (Myanmar) constrained by U-Th-Pb dating of metamorphic and magmatic rocks. Tectonics, 26, TC3014, doi:10.1029/2006TC002083 Searle_etal_2007_Tectonics.pdf

2. Cottle, J.M., & Cooper, A.F. 2006b: Geology, geochemistry and geochronology of an A-type granite in the Mulock Glacier Area, southern Victoria land, Antarctica.  New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics v.49(2) p.191-202. Cottle_&_Cooper_2006_NZJGG_b.pdf

1. Cottle, J.M., & Cooper, A.F. 2006a: The Fontaine Pluton: an early calc-alkaline gabbro from southern Victoria Land, Antarctica.  New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics v.49(2) p.177-189. Cottle_&_Cooper_2006_NZJGG_a.pdf


EARTH 157 / 257 Plate Tectonics

Prerequisite: Earth 2; upper-division standing. one year of university-level mathematics and physics.

Introduction to sea floor spreading, plate tectonics, and continental drift. Geometry and evolution of present day plates. Measurement and calculation of plate motions. Geophysical and geological implications of resulting relative motions at plate boundaries.


EARTH 124 / 224 Geochronology

Prerequisite: Chem 1A; and, Earth 2, or 3, or 4, or 4S; Earth 114.

Principles of radiogenic isotope geochronology, and applications of the major geochronological methods to terrestrial and extraterrestrial problems ranging from global climate change to petrology to tectonics to solar system evolution. This is a five week course.


EARTH 124T / 224 Introductory Thermodynamics

Prerequisite: Chem 1C; Math 3B; Earth 2.

Introduction to thermodynamics and kinetics of rock-water systems. Calculation of mineral equilibria as a function of pressure temperature and fluid compositions. Applied problems at surface and subsurface conditions.


EARTH 115 Analytical Methods in Geomaterials

Prerequisite: Earth 114

Optical properties of inorganic crystals; techniques of mineral identification using the polarizing microscope; strategies for studying rocks in thin section. Fundamental theory and application of electron- and ion-beam instruments in quantitative characterization of geomaterials.


EARTH 177 / 277 Ore Deposits and Mineral Resources

Prerequisite: Earth 2; Earth 114.

Distribution and characteristics of major classes of mineral deposits - their geologic framework, mineralogy, and structure. Lectures explore petrogenetic models for ore-formation. Laboratory exercises and field trips stress recognition of ore and accessory minerals, zoning, and exploration strategies.


EARTH 118 / 119 Summer Field Geology

Prerequisite: Earth 103, 104A & 104B; one course from Earth 102A/L-B/L-C/L. All prerequisites require a grade of C- or better.

Intensive hands-on training in the collection, interpretation, and presentation of geologic field data. Preparation of geologic maps, sections, and a professional report as tools to understanding geologic processes. Area and focus of investigation changes each year.


EARTH 270 Mass spectrometry for earth scientists

Mass spectrometry plays an integral role in modern earth science research with broad application in fields including geochemistry, oceanography, hydrology, petrology and tectonics. The overarching goal of this course is to enable students to develop a solid understanding of both the practical and theoretical aspects of mass spectrometry whilst building analytical skills appropriate to their research interests. This course is intended to be largely practical in nature, providing exposure to a number of plasma-, gas- and thermal-source instruments in the department. Practical exercises will be supplemented by lectures, discussions and literature reviews, presenting background on the theory and application of mass spectrometry techniques.