Claire McLeod


Associate Professor

Ph.D. (2012) Durham University
203 Shideler Hall
To access Dr. McLeod's personal website please see

One of the fundamental questions which drives our motivation for understanding the evolution of our Solar System is when and how did the rocky objects form and differentiate? From this, which geological processes operate(d) to establish the differentiated planets and moons we observe today, and over what timescales did these occur?  My research agenda focusses on investigating these questions by evaluating the processes integral to the geological and chemical evolution of rocky objects, and how what we learn from these has the potential to inform our future exploration of the inner Solar System and beyond. Specific locations and sample types are being investigated to address these questions.

On Earth, tectonic and magmatic processes have led to the generation of our planet’s core, mantle, and crust. The crust is the most accessible layer and the process of continental crust formation has long been recognized as a fundamental component of planetary evolution. The existence of plate tectonics Earth is one of the many reasons our planet is unique with the process of subduction playing a crucial role in element cycling, crustal formation, differentiation (and recycling), and planet habitability.

Through study of magmatic and crustal rocks associated with present-day and ancient geological systems, I aim to provide new insights into Earth's geological past and the processes which govern its evolution. This is achieved through a combination of field work and lab-based approaches where samples are characterized over a range of scales and a variety of microanlaytical techniques are utilized.

While Earth’s geological record offers direct insights into our planet’s formation history, the record is punctuated due to the operation of plate tectonics which ultimately works to resurface our planet and return materials from the surface to the mantle. Our record of Earth’s earliest history (first ~500 million years), and thus insights into early planetary formation processes, is particularly incomplete, hence I look elsewhere in the Solar System to investigate the origins of the rocky bodies. The Moon is our nearest neighbor in space and one of the few objects from which samples which are spatially constrained have been returned from.

Through the study of returned Apollo samples and lunar meteorites, insights into the geological processes which operate on rocky objects have been, and continue to be, investigated. 

Possible Thesis/Dissertation Topics

  • Investigating the components of trans crustal magmatic systems and the architecture of active continental margins
  • Evaluating the influence of slab rollback processes on the petrologic, geochemical, and geodynamic evolution of the lithosphere
  • Understanding the processes and timescales associated with Earth's (early) Continental Crustal formation
  • Interrogating the compositional evolution of planetary interiors and the construction of basaltic crusts (lunar petrology)
  • Advancing our understanding of meteoritic breccia petrogenesis and impacts as a planetary resurfacing process (lunar petrology)

Current/Recent Graduate Student Research

    • Alex Schweitzer (M.S. in progress) Petrological Insights into a Lunar Basaltic Breccia Meteorite from the Dominion Range, Antarctica: DOM 18543
    • Aleksandra Gawronska (Ph.D. in progress) An Investigation into the Chemical and Physical Characteristics of Apollo Lunar Basalts: Insights from 2D and 3D Perspectives.
    • Azadeh Sedaghat (Ph.D. in progress) Petrological, Textural, and Microgeochemical Insights into Magmatic Processes at Active Continental Margins
    • Liannie C. Velazquez Santana (Ph.D. 2022) Insights into Trans Crustal Magmatic Systems: A Framework for Investigating Arc Magmatism at the Bolivian Andes
    • Jared Brum (M.S. 2022) New Insights into the Petrogenesis of Lunar Meteorite Allan Hills 81005 (ALHA 81005)
    • Daniel Blakemore (M.S. 2020) Insights into the History of Pyrite Mineralization at the Round Mountain Gold Mine, Nevada: A Detailed Microanalytical Study of the Type 2 Ore
    • Richard Brydon (M.S. 2019) Tracing Magmatic Processes in Plutonic Environments: Insights from Apatite and Rift-Related Granites.
    • Maureen Haley (M.S. 2019) Mineralogical Perspectives: Using Mineral Chemistry to Unravel the Magmatic Architecture of Granitic Batholiths


(graduate student author, *undergraduate student author)

2022     Arora, B., Currin, A., Dwivedi, D., Fru, M., Kumar, N., McLeod, C. L., Roman, D. Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology Perspectives on Integrated, Coordinated, Open, Networked (ICON) Science Commentary. In: The Power of Many: Opportunities and Challenges of Integrated, Coordinated, Open, Networked (ICON) Science to Advance Geosciences. Earth and Space Science, 9, e2021EA002120.

2022     Gawronska, A. J., McLeod, C. L. Basalt. In: Encyclopedia of Lunar Science, ed: Cudnik, B. Springer, 1000pp.

2022     Gawronska, A. J., McLeod, C. L. Moon, Overall Geology. In: Encyclopedia of Lunar Science, ed: Cudnik, B. Springer, 1000pp.

2021     Flett, L., McLeod C. L., McCarty, J. L., Shaulis, B. J, Fain, J. J., Krekeler, M. P. S. Monitoring Uranium Mine pollution on Native American lands: Insights from Tree Bark Particulate Matter on the Spokane Reservation, WA. Environmental Research, 194, 110619.

2020     McLeod C. L., and Brown, K. L. Strategies for Preparing and Delivering an Effective Online Presentation. GSA Today, v. 30(9).   

2020     Velázquez Santana, L. C., McLeod C. L., Blakemore, D., Shaulis, B., Hill, T. Bolivian Hornblendite Cumulates: Insights into the Depths of Central Andean Arc Magmatic Systems. Lithos, 370-371; 105618.

2020     *Lindeman, C., *Oglesbee, T., McLeod, C. L., Krekeler, M. P. S. Mineralogy and Geochemistry of the Kinnikinic Quartzite at the Arco Hills Silica and Gold Project in Butte County, Idaho: Results of an Ore Quality Spot Check and Implications for Potential Plasma Furnace Processing. Minerals, 10(6); 523.

2020     *Oglesbee, T., McLeod, C. L., Chappell, C., *Vest, J., Sturmer, D., Krekeler, M. P. S. A Mineralogical and Geochemical Investigation of Modern Aeolian Sands near Tonopah, Nevada: Sources and Environmental Implications. Catena, v. 194; 104640.

2020     *Barnes, M., McLeod, C. L., *Faraci, O., Chappell, C., Krekeler, M. P. S. Characterizing the geogenic background of the Midwest: A detailed mineralogical and geochemical investigation of a glacial till in southwestern Ohio. Environmental Earth Sciences, v. 79; 159.

Selected Grants

NSF-MRI (EAR), Acquisition of a Multi-Collector ICP-MS with Laser Ablation for Geochemical and Geochronological Applications, 8/19 - 7/23, Co-PI, $711, 822.

NSF-IUSE Geopaths (EXTRA), GP EXTRA: Advancing Undergraduate Geosciences through Integrated Training Experiences, 8/21/18 - 7/31/22. PI, $333,317.

Teaching Interests

GLG 111 - The Dynamic Earth
GLG 357 - Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
GLG 411/511 - Field Camp
GLG 427/527 – Isotope Geochemistry
GLG 647 - Graduate Student Onboarding
GLG 657 - Geology of our Solar System

For complete descriptions of courses please see the 2022/2023 Miami Bulletin.