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Mark R. Frank

Research Interests

  • Metallic Ore Deposits
  • High-Temperature Experimental Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Fluid Induced Mineral Alteration
  • Experimental Mineralogy and Mineral Physics
  • Applications of Synchrotron Radiation to Geologic Problems
  • Thermodynamic Modeling of Low- and High-Temperature Aqueous Systems

Research Activities 

My general research activities focus on understanding the physicochemical principles that determine mineral stability in the interior of the Earth. This goal is achieved through characterizing, by experimentation and the theory of mineral physics, equilibrium and the kinetics of mineral-melt-fluid systems in the Earth's crust. My research program is grounded in the use of diamond anvil cell assemblies, cold-seal and one-atmosphere furnaces to collect data relevant to pressing geologic questions. Subsequent thermodynamic models provide a means of applying experimental data to ancient and present geologic processes. The core of the research program is outlined below, but experimental studies are conducted in numerous other areas relating to Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry.

Economic Geology Projects

I generally work on metal solubility and speciation in minerals, melts and magmatic volatile phases with applications to porphyry, epithermal, MVT and layered intrusion type depositions. Some of my current projects include:

  • Cu, Au and Fe partitioning between a vapor, liquid and melt.
  • Au association with and incorporation into various sulfide minerals (bornite, chalcopyrite, pyrite, pyrrhotite and arsenopyrite)
  • The stability of select Cu-Fe, Fe-As and Fe- sulfide minerals as a function of temperature, pressure and sulfur activity/fugacity.
  • Pt, Pd and Cu partitioning between a silicate and sulfide melt
  • Fluorite solubility in a low salinity, high-F fluid.

Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology Projects

Experimental petrology has contributed significantly to our understanding of rock genesis. My research laboratories are well suited for a variety of experimental studies and are capable of producing the pressures and temperatures found deep within the Earth or other planetary bodies. I have diverse interests within these fields that include:

  • Mineral-fluid alteration reactions (± bacteria assistance)
  • Exchange of alkali elements between volatile phases, minerals and melts
  • Serpentine dehydration kinetics in subduction zones
  • Mantle wedge metasomatism

High Pressure Mineralogy and Petrology (with some Planetary Geology Applications)

My present research is centered on using diamond anvil assemblies to address problems in mineralogy, petrology and geochemistry. My research group uses the cell together with a synchrotron radiation source (APS, NSLS, CHESS, etc.) to explore the properties of minerals and fluids over a range of crustal conditions (300-3000 K and 0.001-200 GPa).

  • High pressure studies of H2O-rich planetary bodies
  • The incorporation of impurities into high-pressure phases
  • The reactivity of CO2 in the deep mantle
  • The kinetics of serpentine dehydration reactions

Selected Publications

Frank, M.R., Scott, H.P., Aarestad, E. and Prakapenka, V.B. (2016) Potassium Chloride-Bearing Ice VII and Ice Planet Dynamics. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 174, 156-166. 10.1016/j.gca.2015.11.027.

Fraley, K.J. and Frank, M.R. (2014) Gold Solubilities in Bornite, Intermediate Solid Solution and Pyrrhotite at 500 to 700 °C and 100 MPa. Economic Geology. 109, 407-418.

Scott, H.P., Doczy, V.M., Frank , M.R., Hasan, M., Lin, J.-F. and Yang, J. (2013)  Direct Observations of Magnesite Formation from MgO and CO2 at the Pressures and Temperatures Earth’s Mantle. American Mineralogist. 98, 1211-1218.

Frank, M.R., Aarestad, E., Scott, H.P. and Prakapenka, V.B. (2012) A comparison of ice VII formed in the H2O, NaCl-H2O and CH3OH-H2O systems: Implications for H2O-rich planets. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interior, 215, 12-20.

Frank, M.R. and Vaccaro, D.M. (2012) An Experimental Study of High Temperature Potassic Alteration: Implications for Magmatic-Hydrothermal Systems. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 83, 195-204.

Frank, M.R., Simon, A.C., Pettke, T., Candela, P.A. and Piccoli, P.M. (2011) Gold and copper partitioning in magmatic-hydrothermal systems at 800 °C and 100 MPa. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 75, 2470-2482. DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2011.02.012.

Frank, M.R., Scott, H.P, Maglio, S.J., Prakapenka, V. and Shen, G., (2008) Temperature Induced Immiscibility in the NaCl-H2O System at High Pressure. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 170, 107-114,

Fei, Y., Ricolleau, A., Frank, M.R., Mibe, K., Shen, G. and Prakapenka, V., (2007) Toward an internally consistent pressure scale. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 10.1073/pnas.0609013104, 104, 9182-9186.

Frank, M.R., Runge, C.E., Scott, H.P., Maglio, S.J., Olson, J., Prakapenka, V.B. and Shen, G., (2006) Experimental Study of the NaCl-H2O System up to 28 GPa: Implications for Ice-rich Planetary Bodies. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 155, 152-162.

Frank, M.R., Candela, P.A., Piccoli, P.M. and Glascock, M.D., (2002) Gold solubility, speciation and partitioning as a function of HCl in the brine-silicate melt-metallic gold system at 800°C and 100 MPa. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 66, 21, 3719-3732.


  • Introductory Physical Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Metallic Ore Deposits
  • Solid Earth Composition (An Introductory course to Mineralogy and Petrology)
  • Structural and Determinative Mineralogy
  • Synchrotron Radiation and Advanced Mineralogy
  • High-Pressure Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
  • Introductory Planetary Geology
  • Planetary Geosciences

Associate Professor
Experimental Mineralogy, Geochemistry, Petrology, Economic Geology and Planetary Geology

High-Pressure Geochemistry, Petrology and Mineral Physics Laboratory

Hydrothermal Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Petrology Laboratory

Office: DH 409


Ph.D. University of Maryland; 2001

M.S. University of Maryland; 1996

B.S. State University of New York College at Fredonia; 1994

Contact Us

Geology and Environmental Geosciences
Davis Hall 312

815-753-1943 (tel)
815-753-1945 (fax)