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Craig Campbell Lundstrom

Professor, Dept. Head

Research Interests

I focus on understanding the processes and time scales of igneous rock formation through a combination of experimental simulation and geochemical observations. I co-manage a state-of-the-art mass spectrometry lab with Prof Tom Johnson.

Research Description

How does the Continental Crust form?

Earth is unique in our solar system having a bimodal distribution of crust: a basaltic oceanic crust and a more silicic continental crust. The buoyant continental crust, not found on planets of similar bulk composition (Mars, Venus), floats above the oceanic crust, providing an important aspect to plate tectonics and leading to the development of complex life on Earth. How this silicic crust form is not well understood but its clear that many of the chemical signatures of CC can be tied to the origin of convergent margin granitoids.
Over the past 5 years, our group has produced a number of papers which lead to a very different view of how convergent margin plutons like the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite (shown above) form. First, we performed laboratory experiments in which we placed andesite with 4 wt. % water into a large temperature gradient (950 down to 350°C in a 2 cm long capsule) at upper crustal pressures for 2 months; in a major discovery, granite formed at temperatures below 400°C (Huang et al. GCA 2009). By connecting this result to models of plutons forming incrementally, Lundstrom (GCA 2009) then hypothesized that plutons formed top down by a process termed thermal migration zone refining with a directly testable aspect related to isotopic signatures formed by temperature gradients (see Huang et al. Nature 2010, Lacks et al Phys Rev Lett 2012). Indeed further work has documented the incredible unrealized behavior of water dissolved in magma in a temperature gradient (Bindeman et al. EPSL 2013). Our most recent work has been testing for isotopic signatures in natural differentiation suites; Zambardi et al. (EPSL 2014) provide changes in Fe and Si isotope ratios consistent with a temperature gradient based differentiation process.
Future work seeks to understand the enigmatic relationship between granitoids and silicic volcanic rocks. Until we understand the origin of silicic magmas in general, our ability to predict how silicic volcanoes erupt is severely hampered. If you are passionate about solving geological problems through geochemistry, we welcome your application to our graduate program!


  • PhD. University of California Santa Cruz

Courses Taught

  • GEOL 208: History of the Earth System
  • GEOL 415/515: Field Geology
  • GEOL 436: Petrology and Petrography
  • GEOL 510: Integrated Graduate Geology
  • GEOL 563: Analytical Geochemistry

Additional Campus Affiliations

Head, Geology
Professor, Geology
Professor, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Recent Publications

Lundstrom, C. C., Hervig, R., Fischer, T. P., Sivaguru, M., Yin, L., Zhou, Z., Lin, X., & Grossi-Diniz, R. (2022). Insight into differentiation in alkalic systems: Nephelinite-carbonate-water experiments aimed at Ol Doinyo Lengai carbonatite genesis. Frontiers in Earth Science, 10, Article 970264.

Lundstrom, C. C., Lin, X., Brueckel, K., Campe, C., Nan, X., Ortega, K., Akrie, P., Yu, M., & Marshak, S. (2022). New mechanism for forming thick granitic continental crust at Phanerozoic convergent margins. In G. R. Foulger, L. C. Hamilton, D. M. Jurdy, C. A. Stein, K. A. Howard, & S. Stein (Eds.), Special Paper of the Geological Society of America (pp. 233-249). (Special Paper of the Geological Society of America; Vol. 553). Geological Society of America.

Trela, J., Freiburg, J., Yu, M., Gazel, E., Lundstrom, C., Nuelle, L. M., Maria, A., Rakovan, J., & Murchland, M. (2022). Petrologic and geochemical constraints on the origin of lamprophyres and carbonatites in the Midwest Permian ultramafic district and their rare earth element economic potential. In Geological Society of America, North-Central Section, 56th annual meeting; Geological Society of America, Southeastern Section, 71st annual meeting

Regan, L. A., Bower, N. W., Brown, S. J., Lundstrom, C. C., Bartov, G., & Cooney, M. D. (2021). Forensic isoscapes based on intra-individual temporal variation of δ 18O and 206Pb/207Pb in human teeth. Forensic Sciences Research, 6(1), 42-52.

Zakharov, D. O., Lundstrom, C. C., Laurent, O., Reed, M. H., & Bindeman, I. N. (2021). Influence of high marine Ca/SO4 ratio on alteration of submarine basalts at 2.41 Ga documented by triple O and Sr isotopes of epidote. Precambrian Research, 358, Article 106164.

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