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:

  • Copper, gold and iron 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.
  • Platinum, palladium and nickel partitioning between a silicate and sulfide melt
  • Lead and zinc in MVT style deposits
  • Cobalt in hydrothermal systems.

Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology Projects

  • 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)

  • 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., Fraley, K., Kerwin, S., and Vaccaro, D.M. (2019) Feldspar-brine alteration at high-temperatures. Lithos, 324-325, 141-151.

Kerrigan, R.J., Candela, P.A., Piccoli, P.M., Frank, M.R., and Wylie, A. (2017) An evaluation of the system olivine + quartz + water ± HCl: Controls on the growth of fibrous talc at mid-crustal conditions. Canadian Mineralogist, 55, 101-113.

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 Ch2OH-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.


  • 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

Mark R. Frank

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

High-Pressure Geochemistry, Petrology and Mineral Physics Laboratory

Hydrothermal Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Petrology Laboratory

Davis Hall 312A


  • 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

Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
Davis Hall, Room 312

815-753-0631 (undergraduate)
815-753-1943 (graduate)

815-753-1945 (fax)

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