Graduate Students

Liane Stevens

Liane Stevens

Ph.D., 2015, Metamorphic Petrology


Curriculum Vitae

Personal Summary


“A long time ago and far, far away…” are the words that begin some of the most captivating stories, and I think this holds true in geology as well.  My research interests tend towards the inaccessible – geologic processes that we cannot directly witness because they occurred millions or billions of years ago, and 15 kilometers or more beneath our feet.  Specifically, I am a metamorphic petrologist, and I am interested in using the tools of metamorphic petrology, U/Th-Pb geochronology, trace element geochemistry, and structural geology to decipher the history (metamorphism, deformation, partial melting, exhumation) of metamorphic rocks now at Earth’s surface, and what that history reveals about plate tectonics.

I am a transplant from Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  While western Montana is gorgeous, it's the wheat fields of eastern Washington that temporarily satisfy my need for rolling waves between trips to the coasts.  I also enjoy trying new recipes, knitting, and road trips.

Stormy Cape Cod Bay, December 2010. Wheat, eastern Washington, August 2011. Missoula, Montana.

Left to right: Cape Cod Bay after a winter storm (Dec. 2010); A wheat field in eastern Washington (Aug. 2011); Fall colors and mountain snow in Missoula, MT (Oct. 2010).


Ph.D. candidate, Geosciences, The University of Montana, 2015.  Advisor: Julia Baldwin

M.S., Geology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2002.  Advisor: Michael L. Williams

B.A., Geology, Wellesley College, 1997.  Advisor: Margaret D. Thompson

Research Interests

I am working with Julie Baldwin (advisor) and Rebecca Bendick on dissertation research titled, "Pressure-temperature-time constraints on metamorphism, anatexis, and exhumation in the Priest River metamorphic core complex, northern Idaho, and comparison with geodynamic models."

The Pend Oreille River flows through the Priest River metamorphic core complex.

The Pend Oreille River flows through the Priest River metamorphic core complex near Priest River, Idaho.


Project Summary, Dissertation Proposal:

Metamorphic core complexes serve as natural laboratories for studying both the geologic processes that occur in the middle and lower crust and the post-orogenic evolution of overthickened crust.  This study of the Priest River metamorphic core complex (PRC), located in the northern Rocky Mountains, aims to improve the understanding of the processes of metamorphism, deformation, anatexis (partial melting), and exhumation that occurred during its origin and evolution in order to develop a more complete model for the initiation and devlopment of the PRC and similar metamorphic core complexes.

The proposed research has three primary goals: 1) construct a detailed P-T-t-D (pressure-temperature-time-deformation) history that will serve as a framework for further studies of geologic processes that have occurred during the origin and evolution of the PRC; 2) characterize the nature and timing of crustal anatexis and determine its role in the origin and exhumation of the PRC; and 3) use the newly created P-T-t-D data set to evaluate three-dimensional numerical solutions for the initiation and evolution of a modeled metamorphic core complex with similar physical characteristics as the PRC.  This research will be carried out through a combination of field work, petrography, mineral chemistry, phase equilibria modeling, U-Pb geochronology, trace element geothermometry, and REE geochemistry.

This work will use some of the most modern methods available to metamorphic petrologists to create the most precise P-T-t-D history yet available for the PRC.  This information will contribute to the understanding of the processes operating wihtin the PRC, the origin and evolution of the PRC, and regional tectonic setting in the northern Rocky Mountains.  Finally, the P-T-t-D data set will be critical to evaluating numerical solutions for metamorphic core complex initiation and development, and will determine the applicability of this numerical model to the PRC and to similar metamorphic core complexes in orogens worldwide.

Mesoproterozoic Laclede Augen Gneiss Kyanite & Garnet in Hauser Lake Gneiss, with Leucosome. Beargrass, Gisborne Mountain.

Left to right: Top-to-the-east shear sense indicators in the Mesoproterozoic Laclede Augen Gneiss (basement); Garnet, kyanite, and leucosome in the Hauser Lake Gneiss (focus of this study); Beargrass on Gisborne Mountain.

Field of Study

Metamorphic Petrology, Geochronology, Structural Geology, Tectonics