Donna L. Whitney

photo of Prof. Donna Whitney

Donna L. Whitney

Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Head of the School and Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences


John T. Tate Hall
Room 150-05
116 Church Street Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455


PhD, 1991, University of Washington

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

As a metamorphic geologist in the Structure, Tectonics, And Metamorphic Petrology (STAMP) research group, I am interested in using metamorphic rocks to reconstruct the chemical and physical processes that drove metamorphism in continental and oceanic crust and that eventually returned these rocks to the Earth’s surface. Ongoing collaboration with Christian Teyssier (UMN) and Patrice Rey (U Sydney) focuses on the dynamics of partially molten crust, including the trajectory of flow (vertical, lateral), magnitude of flow, driving mechanisms, and the thermal and mechanical consequences for continental evolution. I am also currently directing a large, multidisciplinary research project in Turkey (CD-CAT, Continental Dynamics-Central Anatolian Tectonics), to investigate the mantle-to-surface dynamics during the development of a tectonic escape system. I have also long been interested in metamorphic textures; for example, microstructures in garnet and the interaction of deformation and metamorphism in different tectonic settings, from the scale of mineral grains to mountain belts. Major field sites are in the North American Cordillera, Turkey, France, and Norway.

Structure Tectonics and Metamorphic Petrology Research Group

Teaching Subjects
Introductory Graduate Seminar
Earth & its Environments (intro geology)
Geology & Civilization (freshman seminar)

Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished McKnight University Professor, awarded 2010
  • Fellow, Mineralogical Society of America, elected 2005
  • Fellow, Geological Society of America, elected 2003
  • Best Instructor Award, Geology & Geophysics, IT Student Board, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2006-07
  • University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, 1998-2000
  • Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer, 1998-1999
  • NSF CAREER Award, 1996-2001

Selected Publications


  • Whitney, D.L., Fornash, K.F., Kang, P., Ghent, E.D., Martin, L., Okay, A.I., and Vitale Brovarone, A. (2020) Lawsonite composition and zoning as tracers of subduction processes: a global review. Lithos, 370-371.
  • Whitney, D.L., Hamelin, C., Teyssier, C., Raia, N.H., Korchinski, M.S., Seaton, N.C.A., Bagley, B.C., von der Handt, A., Roger, F., and Rey, P.F. (2020) Deep crustal source of gneiss dome rocks revealed by coeval eclogite and migmatite in the Montagne Noire dome, French Massif Central. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 38, 297-327.
  • Fornash, K.F., Whitney, D.L., and Seaton, N.C.A. (2019) Lawsonite composition and zoning as an archive of metamorphic and deformation processes in subduction zones. Geosphere, 15 (1), 24-46. Nachlas, W.O., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., and Hirth, G. (2018) Deformation geospeedometry in experimental and natural shear zones. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 498, 129-139.
  • Meijers, M.J.M., Brocard, G.Y., Cosca, M.A., Lüdecke, T., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., and Mulch, A. (2018) Rapid late Miocene surface uplift of the Central Anatolian Plateau margin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 497, 29-41.
  • Korchinski, M., Rey, P.F., Mondy, L., Teyssier, C., and Whitney, D.L. (2018) Numerical investigation of deep-crust behavior under lithospheric extension. Tectonophysics, 726, 137-146.
  • Rey, P.F., Mondy, L., Duclaux, G., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., Bocher, M., and Prigent, C. (2017) The origin of contractional structures in extensional gneiss domes. Geology, 45, 263-266.
  • Miller, R.B., Gordon, S.M., Bowring, S., Doran, B., McLean, N., Michels, Z., Shea, E., and Whitney, D.L. (2016) Linking deep and shallow crustal processes in an exhumed continental arc, North Cascades, Washington. Geosphere, 2, 900-924.
  • Whitney, D.L., Roger, F., Teyssier, C., Rey, P.F. and J.-P. Respaut (2015) Syn-collapse eclogite metamorphism and exhumation of deep crust in a migmatite dome: the P-T-t record of the youngest Variscan eclogite (Montagne Noire, French Massif Central). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 430, 224-234.
  • Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., Seaton, N.C.A., and Fornash, K.F. (2014) Petrofabrics of high-pressure rocks exhumed at the slab-mantle interface from the ‘point of no return’ in an oceanic subduction zone (Sivrihisar, Turkey). Tectonics, 33, 2315-2341.
  • Toraman, E., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., Fayon, A.K., Thomson, S.N., and Reiners, P.W. (2014) Lowtemperature thermochronologic record of Eocene migmatite dome emplacement and late Cenozoic landscape development, Shuswap core complex, British Columbia. Tectonics, 33 (8), 1616-1635.
  • Martin, L.A.J., Hermann, J., Gauthiez-Putallaz, L., Whitney, D.L., Vitale Brovarone, A., Fornash, K.F., and Evans, N. (2014) Lawsonite geochemistry and stability – Implications for trace element and water cycles in subduction zones. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 32, 455-478.
  • Nachlas, W.O., Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., Bagley, B., and Mulch, A. (2014) Titanium concentration in quartz as a record of multiple deformation mechanisms in an extensional shear zone. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.
  • Fossen, H., Teyssier, C., and Whitney, D.L. (2013) Transtensional folding. Journal of Structural Geology, 56, 89-102
  • Gordon, S.M., Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., and Fossen, H. (2013) U–Pb dates and trace-element geochemistry of zircon from migmatite, Western Gneiss Region, Norway: Significance for history of partial melting in continental subduction. Lithos, 170-171, 35-53.
  • Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., Rey, P.F., and Buck, W.R. (2013) Continental and oceanic core complexes. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 125, 273-298.
  • Goergen, E.T., and Whitney, D.L. (2012) Corona networks as three-dimensional records of transport scale and pathways during metamorphism. Geology, 40, 183-186.
  • Kruckenberg, S.C., Vanderhaeghe, O., Ferré, E.C., Teyssier, C., and Whitney, D.L. (2011) Flow of partially molten crust and the internal dynamics of a migmatite dome, Naxos, Greece. Tectonics, TC3001.
  • Rey, P.F., Teyssier, C., Kruckenberg, S.C., and Whitney, D.L. (2011) Viscous collision in channel explains double domes in metamorphic core complexes. Geology, 39 (4), 387-390.
  • Whitney, D.L., Teyssier, C., Toraman, E., Seaton, N.C.A., and Fayon, A.K. (2011) Metamorphic and tectonic evolution of a structurally continuous blueschist-to-Barrovian terrane, Sivrihisar Massif, Turkey. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 29, 193-212.
  • Rey, P.F., Teyssier, C., and Whitney, D.L. (2010) The limit of channel flow in orogenic plateaux. Lithosphere, 2, 328-332.
  • Whitney, D.L., and Seaton, N.C.A. (2010) Garnet polycrystals and the significance of clustered crystallization. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 160, 591-607.