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William Guenthner

Associate Professor

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in the fields of low-temperature thermochronology and tectonics, where I use the (U-Th)/He radiogenic isotopic systems to describe the thermal histories of rocks in the upper crust. Thermochronology has numerous applications in the geosciences, and my main focus is on using the collection of thermochronologic tools to understand the dates and rates of mountain creation and destruction, and the long-term ups and downs of cratons. I'm also interested in refining our understanding of the systematics that underpin the various thermochronometers at our disposal. This interest manifests as research in the kinetics of noble gas diffusion in complex minerals (e.g. zircon). My work therefore combines field and laboratory components.

At UIUC, I run a (U-Th)/He lab, the centerpiece of which is a noble gas extraction and measurement line with a diode laser microfurnace, cyrogenic trap, and gas source quadrupole mass spectrometer. I co-manage several fume hoods in a class 1000 clean lab for apatite and zircon dissolution, and share with several faculty an Analyte Excite excimer laser for laser ablation studies, and an iCap Q ICP-MS for isotope dilution work. Please visit my personal website for more information. I am open to collaborations so please contact me if you have interest in visiting the lab!


  • Ph.D. University of Arizona, 2013
  • M.S. University of Arizona, 2009
  • B.A. Carleton College, 2007

Courses Taught

  • 107 Physical Geology
  • 411 Structural Geology
  • 564 Geochronology

Additional Campus Affiliations

Associate Professor, Geology

Honors & Awards

  • 2023 Helen Corley Petit Scholar, UIUC
  • 2020 Charles and Nancy Naesar Prize, early career award of the International Standing Committe on Thermochronology
  • 2019 NSF CAREER award

Recent Publications

Ronemus, C. B., Orme, D. A., Guenthner, W. R., Cox, S. E., & Kussmaul, C. A. L. (2023). Orogens of Big Sky Country: Reconstructing the Deep-Time Tectonothermal History of the Beartooth Mountains, Montana and Wyoming, USA. Tectonics, 42(1), Article e2022TC007541.

Colleps, C. L., McKenzie, N. R., van der Beek, P., Guenthner, W. R., Sharma, M., Nordsvan, A. R., & Stockli, D. F. (2022). ASSESSING THE LONG-TERM LOW-TEMPERATURE THERMAL EVOLUTION OF THE CENTRAL INDIAN BUNDELKHAND CRATON WITH A COMPLEX APATITE AND ZIRCON (U-TH)/HE DATASET. American Journal of Science, 322(10), 1089-1123.

Karlstrom, K. E., Guenthner, W. R., Thurston, O. G., Heizler, M. T., Ricketts, J. W., & Timmons, J. M. (2022). Zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronology reveals pre-Great Unconformity paleotopography in the Grand Canyon region, USA. Geology, 50(3), Article e543.

McDannell, K. T., Keller, C. B., Guenthner, W. R., Zeitler, P. K., & Shuster, D. L. (2022). Reply to Flowers et al. Existing thermochronologic data constrain Snowball glacial erosion below the Great Unconformity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(38), Article e2209946119.

McDannell, K. T., Brenhin Keller, C., Guenthner, W. R., Zeitler, P. K., & Shuster, D. L. (2022). Thermochronologic constraints on the origin of the Great Unconformity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(5), Article e2118682119.

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