Sam Bowring

Robert R. Shrock Professor of Geology
Ph.D., University of Kansas 1985bowring-1

Member, National Academy of Sciences
Fellow, American Geophysical Union
Fellow, Geological Society of America
Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Fellow, Geochemical Society

Email: (administrator)
Office phone: 617.253.7993
Office location: 54-1120

Research interests: Sam Bowring uses U-Pb geochronology to constrain the rates of geologic processes and to calibrate the timing of significant events in the geologic record.  His long endeavor in pressing the boundaries of precision and accuracy in geochronology has allowed him to investigate the explosion of multi-cellular life in the Early Cambrian – the single most important evolutionary event in Earth history – and to examine the mechanisms of the most significant catastrophic events in the history of life: the end-Permian and the end-Cretaceous mass extinctions. His pioneering research in the Northwest Territories of Canada led to an understanding of the processes involved in the early growth of continental crust recorded in the 4 billion-year-old Acasta gneisses. Bowring’s interests also extend to environmental applications of tracer isotopes using the isotopic composition of Pb, Sr, and U in natural waters to examine the fate and transport of contaminants.

Recent publications

  • Hildebrand, R. S., Whalen, J. B., and Bowring, S. A. (2018) Resolving the crustal composition paradox by 3.8 billion years of slab failure magmatism and collisional recycling of continental crust. Tectonophysics, 734-735, 69-88, doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2018.04.001
  • Bauer A.M., Fisher C.M., Vervoort J.D., and Bowring S.A. (2017) Coupled zircon Lu-Hf and U-Pb isotopic analyses of the oldest terrestrial crust, the > 4.03 Ga Acasta Gneiss Complex. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 458, 37-48, doi:
  • Blackburn T., McLean N., and Bowring S.A. (2017) U-Pb Geochronological and Thermochronological Time-Temperature Constraints of Ar-40/Ar-39 Hornblende Reference Material HB3gr. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 41(3), 325-334, doi:
  • Bucholz C.E., Eddy M.P., Jagoutz O., Bowring S.A., Schmidt M.W., and Sambuu O. (2017) Constraining the time scales of magmatic differentiation with U-Pb zircon geochronology. Geology, 45(1), 11-14, doi:
  • Burgess S.D., Muirhead J.D., and Bowring S.A. (2017) Initial pulse of Siberian Traps sills as the trigger of the end-Permian mass extinction. Nat Commun, 8(1), 164, doi:
  • Chan C.F., Shea E.K., Kent A.J.R., Miller R.B., Miller J.S., and Bowring S.A. (2017) Formation of a sheeted intrusive complex within the deep-crustal Tenpeak pluton, North Cascades, Washington. Geosphere, 13(5), 1610-1639, doi:
  • DesOrmeau J.W., Gordon S.M., Little T.A., Bowring S.A., and Chatterjee N. (2017) Rapid time scale of Earth’s youngest known ultrahigh-pressure metamorphic event, Papua New Guinea. Geology, 45(9), 795-798, doi:
  • Dudas F.O., Yuan D.X., Shen S.Z., and Bowring S.A. (2017) A conodont-based revision of the Sr-87/Sr-86 seawater curve across the Permian-Triassic boundary. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 470, 40-53, doi:
  • Fairchild L.M., Swanson-Hysell N.L., Ramezani J., Sprain C.J., and Bowring S.A. (2017) The end of Midcontinent Rift magmatism and the paleogeography of Laurentia. Lithosphere, 9(1), 117-133, doi:
  • Klein F., Marschall H.R., Bowring S.A., Humphris S.E., and Horning G. (2017) Mid-ocean ridge serpentinite in the Puerto Rico Trench: From seafloor spreading to subduction. Journal of Petrology, 10.1093/petrology/egx071, doi:
  • Ramezani J., and Bowring S.A. (2017) Advances in numerical calibration of the Permian timescale based on radioisotopic geochronology. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 10.1144/sp450.17, doi:
  • Bold U., Smith E.F., Rooney A.D., Bowring S.A., Buchwaldt R., Dudas F.O., Ramezani J., Crowley J.L., Schrag D.P., and Macdonald F.A. (2016) Neoproterozoic Stratigraphy of the Zavkhan Terrane of Mongolia: The Backbone for Cryogenian and Early Ediacaran Chemostratigraphic Records. American Journal of Science, 316(1), 1-63.
  • Chen J., Shen S.Z., Li X.H., Xu Y.G., Joachimski M.M., Bowring S.A., Erwin D.H., Yuan D.X., Chen B., Zhang H., Wang Y., Cao C.Q., Zheng Q.F., and Mu L. (2016) High-resolution SIMS oxygen isotope analysis on conodont apatite from South China and implications for the end-Permian mass extinction. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 448, 26-38.
  • Chu Z., He H., Ramezani J., Bowring S.A., Hu D., Zhang L., Zheng S., Wang X., Zhou Z., Deng C., and Guo J. (2016) High-precision U-Pb geochronology of the Jurassic Yanliao Biota from Jianchang (western Liaoning Province, China): Age constraints on the rise of feathered dinosaurs and eutherian mammals. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 10.1002/2016GC006529.
  • Clyde W.C., Ramezani J., Johnson K.R., Bowring S.A., and Jones M.M. (2016) Direct high-precision U–Pb geochronology of the end-Cretaceous extinction and calibration of Paleocene astronomical timescales. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 452, 272-280.
  • Dudas F.O., LeBlanc S.A., Carter S.W., and Bowring A. (2016) Pb and Sr concentrations and isotopic compositions in prehistoric North American teeth: A methodological study. Chemical Geology, 429, 21-32.
  • Eddy M.P., Bowring S.A., Miller R.B., and Tepper J.H. (2016) Rapid assembly and crystallization of a fossil large-volume silicic magma chamber. Geology, 44(4), 331-334.
  • Eddy M.P., Bowring S.A., Umhoefer P.J., Miller R.B., McLean N.M., and Donaghy E.E. (2016) High-resolution temporal and stratigraphic record of Siletzia’s accretion and triple junction migration from nonmarine sedimentary basins in central and western Washington. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 128(3-4), 425-441.
  • Wang T., Ramezani J., Wang C., Wu H., He H., and Bowring S.A. (2016) High-precision U–Pb geochronologic constraints on the Late Cretaceous terrestrial cyclostratigraphy and geomagnetic polarity from the Songliao Basin, Northeast China. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 446, 37-44.
  • Lissenberg C.J., Rioux M., MacLeod C.J., Bowring S.A., and Shimizu N. (2016) Crystallization depth beneath an oceanic detachment fault (ODP Hole 923A, Mid-Atlantic Ridge). Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 17(1), 162-180.
  • 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 during regional transtension in an exhumed continental arc, North Cascades, northwestern Cordillera (USA). Geosphere, 12(3), 900-924.
  • Pu J.P., Bowring S.A., Ramezani J., Myrow P., Raub T.D., Landing E., Mills A., Hodgin E., and Macdonald F.A. (2016) Dodging snowballs: Geochronology of the Gaskiers glaciation and the first appearance of the Ediacaran biota. Geology, 44(11), 955-958.
  • Rioux M., Cheadle M.J., John B.E., and Bowring S.A. (2016) The temporal and spatial distribution of magmatism during lower crustal accretion at an ultraslow-spreading ridge: High-precision U-Pb zircon dating of ODP Holes 735B and 1105A, Atlantis Bank, Southwest Indian Ridge. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 449, 395-406.
  • Rioux M., Garber J., Bauer A., Bowring S., Searle M., Kelemen P., and Hacker B. (2016) Synchronous formation of the metamorphic sole and igneous crust of the Semail ophiolite: New constraints on the tectonic evolution during ophiolite formation from high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronology. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 451, 185-195.
  • Rioux M., Farmer G.L., Bowring S.A., Wooton K.M., Amato J.M., Coleman D.S., and Verplanck P.L. (2016) The link between volcanism and plutonism in epizonal magma systems; high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronology from the Organ Mountains caldera and batholith, New Mexico. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 171(2).