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Peter J. Wyllie

Professor of Geology, Emeritus
Contact information for Peter J. Wyllie
Contact Method Value
Mail Code: MC 170-25
Office: 066 Arms Laboratory
Phone: 626-395-6461
Administrative Assistant:
B.Sc. (Geology and Physics), Saint Andrews University (Scotland), 1952; B.Sc. (Geology), 1955; Ph.D., 1958; D.Sc.h.c., Saint Andrews University. Professor, Caltech, 1983-99; Professor Emeritus, 1999-. Chairman, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, 1983-87; Divisional Academic Officer, 1994-99.
Research Areas: Experimental Petrology; Geology

Research Interests

Experimental petrology of magmas and volatiles; origin of granites, andesites, kimberlites, carbonatites, and associated ore deposits.

Professor Wyllie's main interest is in the processes associated with magmatic phenomena, starting with mantle convection or flux of volatiles in the mantle that initiates partial melting, continuing through the migration and emplacement of igneous bodies in mantle or crust, and culminating in volcanic eruptions.  The experimental determination of phase relationships at high pressures and temperatures for complex rock systems and for related simple synthetic systems places constraints on the processes involved in the origin of rocks, and supplements other approaches of geochemistry, geophysics and fluid dynamics.  Research topics have included the origin of granitic batholiths, andesites, kimberlites, carbonatites, and associated ore deposits, evaluated from the phase relationships of minerals and rocks at high pressures and temperatures.  The CV outlines Wyllie's career; service in national and international societies (including Presidencies of the Mineralogical Society of America, International Mineralogical Society, and International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics); Fellowship or Foreign Membership in National Science Academies of England (Royal Society), USA, Russia, India (2 Academies), China, and Europe; honors and awards; and editing service for several journals in Earth Sciences, and the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Selected biographical publications provide comments about Wyllie's "life-long contributions by means of experimental petrology to understanding how the Earth works".  Wyllie is author or editor of 3 text-books, and Chairman of the National Academy Committee that produced a major report on Solid-Earth Sciences and Society.  Short selections from reviewers' comments are reproduced for each of these volumes.  Detailed research results are contained within the three dated groups of Research Publications.