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R. Damian Nance

R. Damian Nance, portrait
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geology

Recent News


Ph.D., 1978, University of Cambridge, England

B.Sc. (Honors), 1972, University of Leicester, England

Curriculum Vitae

2008-present, Distinguished Professor

1991-2008, Professor

1982-1991, Associate Professor

1980-1982, Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Structural Geology and Tectonics

  • Origin and evolution of the Rheic Ocean and its role in the assembly of Pangea.
  • Late Precambrian-Paleozoic structural, kinematic and tectonothermal evolution of the Acatlan and Granjeno complexes, Mexico, and the Avalon terrane in Maritime Canada.
  • Late Precambrian continental reconstructions and the tectonic evolution of the Avalonian-Cadomian belt in the northern Appalachians and western Europe.
  • The supercontinent cycle and Earth's long-term tectonic, geochemical, climatic and biological history.
  • Pleistocene glacial and neotectonic history of Mt. Olympus, Greece.
  • Dextral transpression and Late Carboniferous sedimentation in Maritime Canada.

Biographical Sketch

Damian Nance is Distinguished Professor Emeritus and past Chair of Geological Sciences at Ohio University. He joined the department in 1980, following four years on the faculty of St. Francis Xavier University in Canada. He has held visiting research positions at Louisiana State University, Oxford Brookes University, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and St. Francis Xavier University as the W.F. James Professor of Pure and Applied Science. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at Yale University.

Nance is a native of Cornwall, U.K. and received his B.Sc. (Hons) in geology at the University of Leicester, UK in 1972. He moved to Canada in 1976 after completing his Ph.D. in geology at the University of Cambridge, where he studied the application of plate tectonic theory to the development of ancient mountain belts and developed his research interest in tectonic activity and large-scale geodynamic processes. In 1982, Nance and fellow department member Tom Worsley proposed the supercontinent cycle, the now-substantiated theory that the Earth's geologic, climatic and biological evolution has been dominated by the episodic assembly and breakup of supercontinents. Using the peri-Gondwanan terranes of the northern Appalachians and Britain, and the Acatlán Complex of southern Mexico, Nance has studied the causes and effects of the Earth’s moving continents and has attempted to reconstruct their past geographies, particularly with respect to the supercontinent Pannotia and the Paleozoic Rheic Ocean. He has also examined the on-going uplift of Mt. Olympus, Greece, and its influence on the mountain’s Pleistocene glacial record and is an authority on 19th century Cornish mining history and its steam technology.

Nance has twice received the College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award; he has been twice nominated for the University's Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award, and he has toured as a distinguished lecturer for the Atlantic Provinces Intercollegiate Council for the Sciences. He is editor of Lithosphere and past-editor of GSA Today, he serves on the editorial boards of Gondwana Research and Geoscience Frontiers, and he has served as guest editor for several international journals. He has also served as a peer review panelist for the Department of Energy and a research adviser for Argonne National Laboratories. Nance has published over 220 papers, authored and edited 21 books and maps, and given 235 presentations at national and international meetings.

Courses Taught

  • GEOL 1200: The Mobile Earth

Past Courses Taught

  • GEOL 4/5020: International Field School
  • GEOL 3/5600: Structural Geology
  • GEOL 4/5610: Advanced Structural Geology
  • GEOL 4/5640: Regional Tectonics
  • GEOL 4/5660: Geodynamics
  • GEOL 4/5480: Basin Tectonics & Hydrocarbon Exploration
  • GEOL 4/5910: Field Geology

Selected Publications

  • Murphy, J.B., Nance, R.D., Gabler, L.B. and Douglas A. Archibald, D.A. 2018. Age, Geochemistry and Origin of the Ardara Appinites, NW Ireland. Geoscience Canada, in press.
  • Nance, R.D. and Murphy, J.D., 2018. Supercontinents and the case for Pannotia, in Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, edited by R.W. Wilson, G.A. Houseman, K.J.W. McCaffrey, A.G. Doré and S.J.H. Buiter. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 470,
  • Murphy, J.B., Nance, R.D., Keppie, J.D. and Dostal, J., 2018, The role of Avalonia in the development of tectonic paradigms, in Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, edited by R.W. Wilson, G.A. Houseman, K.J.W. McCaffrey, A.G. Doré and S.J.H. Buiter. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 470.
  • Pastor-Galan, D., Nance, R.D., Murphy, J.C. and Spencer, C. 2018. Supercontinents: myths, mysteries, and milestones, in Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, edited by R.W. Wilson, G.A. Houseman, K.J.W. McCaffrey, A.G. Doré and S.J.H. Buiter. Geological Society of London, Special Publication 470,
  • Murphy, J.B., Nance, R.D, and Johnston, S.T., 2016. Tectonic evolution of the Iberian margin of Gondwana and of correlative regions: A celebration of the career of Cecilio Quesada. Tectonophysics, v. 681, p. 1-5.
  • Neace, E.R., Nance, R.D., Murphy, J.B., Lancaster, P.J. and Shail, R.K., 2016. Zircon LA-ICPMS geochronology of the Cornubian Batholith, SW England. Tectonophysics, v. 681, p. 332-352.
  • Dupuis, N.E., Murphy, J.B., Braid, J.A., Shail, R.K., Nance, R.D., and Scrivener, R.C. 2016. Mantle evolution in the Variscides of SW England: geochemical and isotopic constraints from mafic rocks. Tectonophysics, v. 681, p. 353-363.
  • Dupuis, N.E., Braid, J.A. Murphy, J.B., Shail, R.K., Archibald, D.A. and Nance, R.D. 2015. 40Ar/39Ar phlogopite geochronology of lamprophyre dykes in Cornwall, UK: new age constraints on Early Permian post-collisional magmatism in the Rhenohercynian Zone, SW England. Journal of the Geological Society, v. 172, 566-575.
  • Nance, R.D., Neace, E.R., Braid, J.A., Murphy, J.B., Dupuis, N., R.K. Shail, R.K. 2015. Does the Meguma Terrane extend into SW England? Geoscience Canada, v. 42, p. 61-76.
  • Nance, R.D.. and Murphy, J.B., 2015. Physical Geology Today. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 752 p.
  • Nance, R.D., Murphy, J.B. and Santosh, M. 2014. The Supercontinent cycle: a restrospective essay. Gondwana Research, v. 25, p. 4-29.
  • Murphy, J.B., Nance, R.D., Dosal, J. and Quesada, C. 2014. Rifts, arcs and orogens in space and time: a volume in honor of J. Duncan Keppie—an introduction. International Journal of Earth Sciences, DOI 10.1007/s00531-014-1028-3.
  • Nance, R.D. and Brown, K., 2014. Complete Guide to the Engine Houses of West Cornwall. Lydney, Gloucestershire, U.K.: Lightmoor Press, 184 p.
  • Nance, R.D. and Murphy, J.B., 2013. Origins of the supercontinent cycle. Geoscience Frontiers, v. 4, 439-448.
  • Murphy, J.B. and Nance, R.D., 2013. Speculations on the mechanisms for the formation and breakup of supercontinents. Geoscience Frontiers. v. 4, p. 185-194.
  • Nance, R.D., Gutiérrez-Alonso, G., Keppie, J.D., Linnemann, U., Murphy, J.B., Quesada, C., Strachan, R.A. and Woodcock, N.H. 2012. A brief history of the Rheic Ocean. Geoscience Frontiers, v. 3, 125-135.
  • Keppie, J.D., Nance, R.D., Dostal, J., Lee, J.K.W. and Ortega-Rivera, A. 2012. Constraints on the subduction erosion/extrusion cycle in the Paleozoic Acatlán Complex of southern Mexico: geochemistry and geochronology of the type Piaxtla Suite. Gondwana Research, v. 21, p.1050-1065.
  • Murphy, J.B., Pisarevsky, S.A. and Nance, R.D., 2012. Potential geodynamic relationships between the development of peripheral orogens along the northern margin of Gondwana and the amalgamation of West Gondwana. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, v. 107, p. 635-650.
  • Keppie, J.D., Dostal, J., Murphy, J.B., Galaz-Escanilla, G., Ramos-Arias, M.A. and Nance, R.D. 2012. High pressure rocks of the Acatlán Complex, southern Mexico: Large-scale subducted Ordovician rifted passive margin extruded into the upper plate during the Devonian–Carboniferous. Tectonophysics, v. 560-561, p. 1-21.
  • Keppie, J.D. Murphy, J.B., Nance, R.D. and Dostal, J. 2012. Mesoproterozoic Oaxaquia-type basement in peri-Gondwanan terranes of Mexico, the Appalachians and Europe: TDM age constraints on extent and significance. International Geology Review, v. 54, p. 313-324.
  • Trainor, R.J., Nance, R.D. and Keppie, J.D. 2011. Tectonothermal history of the Mesoproterozoic Novillo Gneiss of eastern Mexico: support for a coherent Oaxaquia microcontinent. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas, v. 28, p 580-592.
  • Murphy J.B., Cousens, B.L., Braid, J.A., Strachan, R.A., Dostal, J. Keppie, J.D. and Nance, R.D. 2011. Highly depleted oceanic lithosphere in the Rheic Ocean: Implications for Paleozoic plate reconstructions. Lithos, v. 123, p. 165-175.
  • Keppie, J.D., Nance, R.D., Ramos-Arias, M.A., Lee, J.K.W., Dostal, J., Ortega-Rivera, A. and Murphy, J.B. 2010. Late Paleozoic subduction and exhumation of Cambro-Ordovician passive margin and arc rocks in the northern Acatlán Complex, southern Mexico: geochronological constraints. Tectonophysics, v. 495, p. 213-229.
  • Nance, R.D., 2010. Miocene-Recent extension on the eastern flank of Mt. Olympus, Greece. Tectonophysics, v. 488, p. 282-292.
  • Nance, R.D., Gutiérrez-Alonso, G., Keppie, J.D. Linnemann, U., Murphy, J.B., Quesada, C., Strachan, R.A. and Woodcock, N.H. 2010. Evolution of the Rheic Ocean. Gondwana Research, v. 17, p. 194-222.
  • Keppie, J.D., Nance, R.D., Murphy, J.B., Dostal, J. and Braid, J.A. 2010. The high-pressure Iberian-Czech beltin the Variscan orogen: extrusion into the upper (Gondwanan) plate? Gondwana Research, v. 17, p. 306-316.
  • Murphy, J.B., Keppie, J.D., Nance, R.D. and Dostal, J. 2010. Comparative evolution of the Iapetus and Rheic Oceans: A North America perspective. Gondwana Research, v. 17, p. 482-499.

Recent Advisee's M.S. Theses

  • Gabler, L.B., 2016. Petrology of the Ardara appinites, Donegal, NE Ireland. M.S. thesis, in prep.
  • Nease, E., 2014. Zircon inheritance in the Cornubian batholith: Constraints on Paleozoic paleogeography. M.S. thesis, in prep.
  • Trainor, R.J., 2010. Structural-metamorphic history of the Novillo Gneiss, Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. M.S. thesis, 117 p.
  • Barley, B., 2006. Polyphase deformation in the northern Acaltan Complex: San Miquel Las Minas, Puebla, southern Mexico. M.S. thesis, 58 p.
  • Grodzicki, K., 2006. Structural, geochemical, and geochronological analysis of the Coatlacco area, Acatlan Complex, southern Mexico. M.S. thesis, 98 p.
  • Hinojosa-Prieto, H.R., 2006. Tectonothermal historty of the La Noria-Las Calaveras region, Acatlan Complex, southern Mexico: Implications for Paleozoic tectonic models. M.S. thesis, 137 p.
  • Dowe, D.A., 2004. Deformational history of the Granjeno Schist near Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. M.S. thesis, 106 p.
  • Wessel, Z.R., 2004. Structural analysis of a potential peri-Gondwanan detachment: George River Suite-Bras Gneiss contact relations in the Creignish Hills, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. M.S. thesis, 104 p.
  • Malone, J.W., 2000. Structural and kinematic history of the Tecomate and Cosoltepec Fomations, Acatlan Complex, southern Mexico. M.S. thesis, 103 p.
  • Thomas, D.A., 1999. Structural evolution of the Antigonish Basin, Nova Scotia, M.S. thesis, 82 p.

Professional Recognition

  • Visiting Fellow, Yale University, 2018
  • Named Honorary Member of the Trevithick Society, 2108
  • Elected to the College of Bards of Cornwall (Gorsedh Kernow), 2018
  • Outstanding Associate Editor Geoscience Frontiers, 2018
  • Ohio University Keystroke Catalyst Award, 2017
  • Editor, Lithosphere, 2016
  • Elected Fellow of the Geological Society of America, 2014
  • Editor, GSA Today, 2011
  • Associate Editor, Geoscience Frontiers, 2011
  • Associate Editor, Gondwana Research, 2010
  • Named Distinguished Professor, Ohio University, 2008
  • Guest Editor, Gondwana Research, 2009
  • Adjunct Professor, St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, 1999-present
  • Who's Who in Science and Engineering 1996-present
  • American Men and Women of Science 1994-present
  • Editorial Board, Geological Magazine (Cambridge University Press) 1995-2006
  • Editorial Board, Zeitschrift für Geologische Wissenschaften, (Dresden) 2001-2006
  • Distinguished Faculty Award, Department of Geological Sciences, Ohio University 1992, 2003
  • A to Z of Earth Scientists, Facts On File Notable Scientists Series, 1st Edition 2002
  • Visiting Professor, Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 2001
  • Project Director, Program for North American Mobility in Higher Education 1996-2000
  • W.F. James Professor of Pure and Applied Science, St. Francis Xavier University 1994
  • College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, Ohio University 1992
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Atlantic Provinces Intercollegiate Council for the Sciences 1989
  • Peer Review Panelist, DOE Office of Nuclear Waste Isolation 1984-1988
  • Ohio University Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award Nominee 1984, 1987