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Malcolm J. Rutherford Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences, Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences (Research)

I received a B.Sc. Engineering in 1961 and an M.Sc. in 1963, both at the University of Saskatchewan. I served as a PostDoc, then as an acting Assistant Professor at the University of California/Los Angeles before coming to Brown in 1970. In 1985, I was promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. Though a Professor Emeritus, I am still very active within the Geochemistry/Mineralogy/Petrology (GMP) research group.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Rutherford, M.J. and Papale, P. (2009). Origin of Basalt Fire fountain eruptions on the Earth vs: the Moon. Geology, in press (March 2009 issue).

Calvin, C and Rutherford M.J. (2008) The parental melt of Lherzolitic shergottite ALH 77005: a study of rehomogenized melt inclusions. American Mineralogist, 93, 1886-1898.

Rutherford, M.J. (2008) Magma ascent Rates. In Minerals, Inclusions and volcanic Processes: Reviews in Mineralogy Vol. 69 Chapter 7. Eds: Putirka, K. and Tepley F., p 241-271.

Minitti, M.E., Rutherford, M.J., Taylor, B.E., Dyar, M.D. and Schultz, P.H., (2008) Assessments of Shock Effects on Amphibole water contents and Hydrogen isotope compositions: Amphibole Experiments. EPSL, 266, 46-60.

Saal, A, Hauri, E., LoCasio, M., Van Orman J., Rutherford, M., and Cooper R., (2008). The volatile content of lunar volcanic glasses: Evidence for the presence of water in the lunar interior. Nature,

Rutherford MJ, and Devine J (2008) Magmatic conditions and processes in the Storage Zone of the 2004-06 Mount St. Helens Eruption: The record in Amphibole and Plagioclase phenocrysts. In A volcano rekindled: the first year of renewed eruption at Mount St. Helens, 2004-2006. Sherrod, DR, Scott WE, Stauffer PH (ed) US Geol Survey Prof Pap 1750, chpt 31.

Mangiacapra, A., Moretti, R., Rutherford, M., Civetta, L., Orsi, G., Papale, P., (2008) The deep magmatic system of the Campi Flegrei caldera (Italy). Geophys Res Lett, 35, L21304, doi:10.1029/2008GL035550, 2008.

McCanta, M.C., Hammer, J.E., and Rutherford, M.J., (2007). Pre-eruptive and syn-eruptive conditions in the Black Butte, CA dacite: Insight into crystallization kinetics in a silicic magma system. Jour of Volcanology and Geothermal Res, 160, 263-284.

Gardner, J. E, Burgeisser, A., Hort, M., and Rutherford, M.J. (2006). Experimental and Model Constraints on Degassing of Magma during Ascent and Eruption. In Seibe, C., Macies, J.L., and Aquirre-Davis, G.J., Neogene-Quatery continental volcanism: A perspective from mexico. GSA Special Paper 402, 99-114.

Roach, A., Mangiacapra, A., and Rutherford, M.J. (submitted and in revision) Pre-eruption conditions in Phlegrean Fields trachytic AMS magmas: Petrology, Geobarometry and Geothermometry. Journal of Petrology.

McCanta M.C., Rutherford M.J., and L. Elkins-Tanton. (accepted, in revision) Melt REE contents oflherzolitic shergottite ALHA77005 and Nakhlite MIL03346: application of the Eu-oxybarometer. Met. Planet. Sci.

research overview

The focus of my research is the experimental, field, and theoretical investigations of the phase equilibria of calc-alkaline magmas. The purpose is to establish mineral stabilities and compositions in these magmas as a function of the fugacities of the volatile species, temperature, and the total pressure. This type of phase equilibrium is used to assess the conditions in pre-eruption subvolcanic magma systems at Mount St. Helens, and in the pre-eruption magma system at Mount Pinatubo, Philippines.

research statement

Most of my research has been experimental: field and theoretical investigations of the phase equilibria of calc-alkaline magmas. The purpose of my research is to establish mineral stabilities and compositions in these magmas as a function of the fugacities of the volatile species(H 2 O, CO 2 ,SO 2 , Cl etc.), temperature and the total pressure. Originally, this type of phase equilibrium study was used to assess the conditions in pre-eruption subvolcanic magma systems at Mount St. Helens, and more recently, in the pre-eruption magma system at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. An investigation of conditions in the andesite composition magmas erupted at Mount Rainier over the past 5000 years was recently completed.

My second major research interest is the rates of volcanic processes. My group has studied the reaction of the hydrous amphibole phenocrysts with the surrounding melt in calc-alkaline magmas as they rise to the surface in attempts to determine the rates of magma ascent in different volcanic systems. The erupted rocks at Mount St. Helens show that this reaction has proceeded to different degrees in different samples, and that most samples contain amphibole populations with different ascent histories. In contrast, the eruption of dacitic magma at Black Butte near Mt. Shasta in northern CA., clearly contains magma which has not experienced any mixing either pre-eruption or during ascent. My latest use of these petrological methods for assessing magma ascent rates is illustrated in the papers on recent eruptions at Montserrat and Unzen. At Montserrat, this method was important in recognizing the changes that were taking place in the rate of magma ascent during the eruption, and in predicting a change from quiet magma effusion to more explosive activity. I am actively involved with collaborators in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) studying the new lava dome eruption of Mount St. Helens.

I have been working closely in collaboration with a small group of international scientists to study the parameters that have controlled volcanic eruptions at the Phlegrean fields center near Naples in Italy. This center has been extremely active over the past 35,000 years, with the most recent eruption in 1800 AD.

Studies of magmatic processes on the moon and other terrestrial type planetary bodies continue to be carried out with NASA support. At the same time, the SNC meteorites are being investigated for evidence of magmatic and volcanic conditions on Mars. A part of this project comes from the discovery of andesite composition rocks on the surface of Mars at the Pathfinder site. My team completed a study that demonstrates how these andesite composition magmas could be related by igneous processes to the main group of SNC magmas known to erupt on Mars.

A three-year proposal has been funded by the NASA Mars Data Analysis Program that will allow my group and its associated students to study the nature of magmatic and surface oxidation processes on Mars. Specifically, studies were defined that might explain the compositions of the Mars rocks represented by the SNC meteorites on one hand, and those deduced from spectroscopic study of rock and soil samples at the Mars Pathfinder site on the other. Additionally, I have proposed experiments which might indicate how surface oxidation and alteration of SNC basaltic rocks might alter the spectral properties of the Mars surface, and explain some of the high plagioclase to pyroxene ratios identified in the remotely sensed spectra of the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. Finally, this proposal allows Mac's group to continue investigations of volcanism and the role of volatile elements in Martian volcanic processes.

funded research

Recent Grants:
Three research grants in effect, each for a term of 3 Years; One funded by National Science Foundation (NFS), two from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Also research support from the Istitutio Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) in Italy for collaborative projects on fundamentals of volcanic systems for use in volcanic hazard prediction.