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Dr Frances Cooper

Dr Frances Cooper

Dr Frances Cooper
MSci(Lond.), PhD(USC)

Senior Lecturer

Area of research

Mechanics of large-scale continental deformation, evolution of orogenic systems, formation of ore deposits

Office L124
Wills Memorial Building,
Queens Road, Clifton BS8 1RJ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 954 5428


My research is focused on understanding the mechanics of large-scale continental deformation and the evolution of orogenic systems. I use a multidisciplinary approach that includes structural geology, microstructural analysis, metamorphic and igneous petrology, thermobarometry, isotope geochemistry, U-Th-Pb geochronology, (U-Th)/He and 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology, paleomagnetism, satellite remote sensing, and thermal modelling. I have studied active normal faulting in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece, the evolution of metamorphic core complexes in the Basin and Range province, Nevada, and the role of extension in the Bhutan Himalaya. I have also worked on the application of the low-temperature (U-Th)/He thermochronometer to date young basalt flows and terrestrial impact craters.

At Bristol I am involved in a BHP-funded project investigating the links between volcanism, tectonics, and mineralisation to better understand the formation of porphyry copper deposits. The project integrates volcanology, structural geology, geomorphology, experimental petrology, and geochronology, and is led by Professor Steve Sparks, Professor Jon Blundy, Dr Alison Rust and myself.


Frances in Chile

I obtained an MSci in Geology from University College London in 2003, where I worked on active normal faulting in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece. After starting my PhD at UCL, I promptly moved across the pond to the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where I completed my PhD in 2008 on the exhumation of the Snake Range metamorphic core complex, Nevada.

In 2008 I took up a postdoctoral position at Arizona State University, Phoenix, where I worked on a diverse range of research projects, including extensional faulting in the Bhutanese Himalaya, mineralogical mapping of remote mountainous regions using infrared satellite data, and dating young basaltic lava flows and terrestrial impact craters with (U-Th)/He thermochronology.

I started at Bristol in September 2012, where I am focused on understanding the links between volcanism, tectonics, and mineralisation as part of a BHP Billition funded research project on the formation of porphyry copper deposits in northern Chile.


I teach 2nd year Structural Geology, 3rd year Economic Geology, and 4th year Advanced Fieldwork.

Teaching in Coniston

Naxos 2016



  • continental tectonics
  • structural geology
  • economic geology
  • geochronology
  • thermochronology
  • isotope geochemistry
  • igneous petrology
  • metamorphic petrology
  • field geology
  • remote sensing

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Cooper currently teaches 4 courses:

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