Department of Earth Sciences
Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth Sciences

Donna L. Whitney


dept head office: 150-05; faculty office: 329; John T. Tate Hall

612-626-7582 (fac office), 612-624-2041 (dept head office)


Distinguished McKnight University Professor

Head, Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth Sciences and Department of Earth Sciences

PhD, 1991, University of Washington

Research group webpage

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Research Interests

As a metamorphic geologist in the Structure, Tectonics, And Metamorphic Petrology (STAMP) research group, I am interested in using metamorphic rocks to reconstruct the chemical and physical processes that drove metamorphism in continental and oceanic crust and that eventually returned these rocks to the Earth’s surface. Ongoing collaboration with Christian Teyssier (UMN) and Patrice Rey (U Sydney) focuses on the dynamics of partially molten crust, including the trajectory of flow (vertical, lateral), magnitude of flow, driving mechanisms, and the thermal and mechanical consequences for continental evolution. I am also currently directing a large, multidisciplinary research project in Turkey (CD-CAT, Continental Dynamics-Central Anatolian Tectonics), to investigate the mantle-to-surface dynamics during the development of a tectonic escape system. I have also long been interested in metamorphic textures; for example, microstructures in garnet and the interaction of deformation and metamorphism in different tectonic settings, from the scale of mineral grains to mountain belts. Major field sites are in the North American Cordillera, Turkey, France, and Norway.


Courses Taught

  • Earth & its Environments
  • Geology & Civilization (freshman seminar)
  • Mineralogy
  • Petrology (team-taught)
  • Advanced Petrology (team-taught)
  • Graduate seminars

Selected Recent Publications (* student author; # postdoc author)

  • *Radwany, M., Whitney, D.L., Brocard, G., Umhoefer, P.J., and Teyssier, C. (2017) Ophiolite gabbro from source to sink: a record of tectonic and surface processes in Central Anatolia. Geosphere, 13 (5). doi:10.1130/GES01465.1

  • Rey, P.F., Mondy, L., Duclaux, G., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., Bocher, M., and Prigent, C. (2017) The origin of contractional structures in extensional gneiss domes. Geology, 45, 263-266, doi:10.1130/G38595.1

  • *Fornash, K.F., Cosca, M.A., and Whitney, D.L. (2016) Tracking the timing of subduction and exhumation using 40Ar/39Ar phengite ages in blueschist and eclogite facies rocks (Sivrihisar, Turkey). Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 171 : 67, doi 10.1007/s00410-016-1268-2.
  • Miller, R.B., Gordon, S.M., Bowring, S., *Doran, B., *McLean, N., *Michels, Z., and *Shea, E., Whitney, D.L. (2016) Linking deep and shallow crustal processes in an exhumed continental arc, North Cascades, Washington. Geosphere, 2, 900-924.
  • *Fréville, K., Cenki-Tok, B., Trap, P., Rabin, M., Leyreloup, A., Régnier, J.-L., and Whitney, D.L. (2016) Thermal interaction of middle and upper crust during gneiss dome formation: Example from the Montagne Noire (French Massif Central). Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 34, 447-462.
  • #Meijers, M.J.M., *Strauss, B., *Özkaptan, M., Feinberg, J.M., Mulch, A., Whitney, D.L., and Kaymakçı, N. (2016) Age and paleoenvironmental reconstruction of partially remagnetized lacustrine sedimentary rocks (Oligocene Aktoprak basin, central Anatolia, Turkey). Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 17, 914-939.
  • Gordon, S.M., Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., Fossen, H., and Kylander-Clark, A. (2016) Geochronology and geochemistry of zircon from the northern Western Gneiss Region: Insights into the Caledonian tectonic history of western Norway. Lithos, 246-247, 134-148.
  • Whitney, D.L., Roger, F., Teyssier, C., Rey, P.F. and J.-P. Respaut (2015) Syn-collapse eclogite metamorphism and exhumation of deep crust in a migmatite dome: the P-T-t record of the youngest Variscan eclogite (Montagne Noire, French Massif Central). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 430, 224-234.
  • Roger, F., Teyssier, C., Respaut, J-P., Rey, P.F., Jolivet, M., Whitney, D.L., Paquette, J-L., and Brunel, M. (2015) Emplacement of anatectic granite during Variscan extension and exhumation of the Montagne Noire double dome, French Massif Central, France. Tectonophysics, 640-641, 53-69.
  • *Renedo, R.N., *Nachlas, W.O., Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., Piazolo, S., Gordon, S.M., and Fossen, H. (2015). Fabric development during exhumation from ultrahigh-pressure in an eclogite-bearing shear zone, Western Gneiss Region, Norway. Journal of Structural Geology, 71, 58-70.
  • Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., #Seaton, N.C.A., and *Fornash, K.F. (2014) Petrofabrics of high-pressure rocks exhumed at the slab-mantle interface from the ‘point of no return’ in an oceanic subduction zone (Sivrihisar, Turkey). Tectonics, 33, 2315-2341.
  • Simon-Labric, T., Brocard, G.Y., Teyssier, C., Reiners, P.W., van der Beek, P.A., Shuster, D.L., Murray, K., and Whitney, D.L. (2014) Low-temperature thermochronology signature of range-divide migration and breaching in the North Cascades. Lithosphere, 6 (6), 473-482.
  • *Toraman, E., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., Fayon, A.K., Thomson, S.N., and Reiners, P.W. (2014) Low-temperature thermochronologic record of Eocene migmatite dome emplacement and late Cenozoic landscape development, Shuswap core complex, British Columbia. Tectonics, 33 (8), 1616-1635.
  • Martin, L.A.J., Hermann, J., Gauthiez-Putallaz, L., Whitney, D.L., *Fornash, K.F., and Evans, N. (2014) Lawsonite geochemistry and stability – Implications for trace element and water cycles in subduction zones. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 32, 455-478.
  • *Nachlas, W.O., Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., #Bagley, B., and Mulch, A. (2014) Titanium concentration in quartz as a record of multiple deformation mechanisms in an extensional shear zone. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. doi: 10.1002/2013GC005200
  • *Idleman, L., Cosca, M.A., Thomson, S.N., Heizler, M.T., Teyssier, C., and Whitney, D.L. (2014) Tectonic burial and exhumation cycles tracked by muscovite and K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar in a strike-slip fault zone, central Turkey. Tectonophysics, 612-613, 134-146.
  • #Seaton, N.C.A., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., and Heizler, M.T. (2014) Quartz and calcite microfabric transitions in a pressure and temperature gradient, Sivrihisar, Turkey. Geodinamica Acta, Special issue in honor of Aral Okay.
  • Fossen, H., Teyssier, C., and Whitney, D.L. (2013) Transtensional folding. Journal of Structural Geology, 56, 89-102.
  • Gordon, S.M., Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., and Fossen, H. (2013) U–Pb dates and trace-element geochemistry of zircon from migmatite, Western Gneiss Region, Norway: Significance for history of partial melting in continental subduction. Lithos, 170-171, 35-53.
  • Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., Rey, P.F., and Buck, W.R. (2013) Continental and oceanic core complexes. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 125, 273-298.
  • *Iredale, L.J., Teyssier, C., and Whitney, D.L. (2013) Cenozoic pure-shear collapse of the southern Menderes Massif, Turkey. Journal of the Geological Society of London. From: Robertson, A.H.F., Parlak, O. and Ünlügenç, U.C. (eds) Geological Development of Anatolia and the Easternmost Mediterranean Region. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 372, 323-342.

Recent Research Support

  • 2012-2016, NSF-Continental Dynamics-Central Anatolian Tectonics (CD-CAT): Surface to mantle dynamics from collision to escape.
  • 2011-2014, NSF-Tectonics: Colliding channels and double domes in metamorphic core complexes.
  • 2010-2012, NSF-Petrology & Geochemistry, Continental subduction and deep crustal melting.
  • 2009-2012, NSF-Tectonics, Titanium in deforming quartz and the thermo-mechanics of detachment and thrust systems.
  • 2007-2011, NSF-Tectonics, Field-based analysis of subduction petrofabrics.


Selected Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished McKnight University Professor, awarded 2010
  • Fellow, Mineralogical Society of America, elected 2005
  • Fellow, Geological Society of America, elected 2003
  • Best Instructor Award, Geology & Geophysics, IT Student Board, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2006-07
  • University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, 1998-2000
  • Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer, 1998-1999
  • NSF CAREER Award, 1996-2001