Alan Collins

Professor Alan Collins

Professor

School of Physical Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Professor Alan Collins is a tectonic geologist who is interested in how the deep earth evolution of the planet has controlled and governed earth surface systems (atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere). He has a BSc (Hons.) degree from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, The University of London (1993), and PhD from The University of Edinburgh (1997), that examined the tectonics of SW Turkey. This work identified multiple stages of thrust-sheet movement, foreland basin formation and subsequent consumption in the ophiolite-bearing Lycian nappes along the Aegean and Mediterranean coast of Turkey. After completing this, Alan went down in the crust and back in time to work on the Ediacaran-Cambrian amalgamation of Gondwana, working initially in Madagascar, and later in East Africa, India, Western Australia and East Antarctica. Using tectono-stratigraphic techniques, he has helped unravel much of the East African Orogen to produce a model for the collision of Neoproterozoic India with the central Africa. This work began in Leicester University, UK, and continued in the Tectonics Special Research Centre in Curtin University and The University of Western Australia.

Prof. Collins commenced at The University of Adelaide as a Senior Lecturer in 2005 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2009 and Professor in 2014. His on-going research directs various aspects of geoscience, including palaeomagnetism, structural geology, geochronology and sedimentology to answer geologically significant questions. He was awarded an Australian Research Council 'Future Fellowship' in 2012.

Alan Collins leads the Tectonics and Earth Systems Group (TES) in Adelaide and is always interested in talking to potential students and post docs who share his vision of building a collaborative and supportive environment to learn about this wonderful planet of ours.

To find out a bit of what I do, check out a podcast of my professorial inaugural lecture (link below)

Hi I LOVE plate tectonics. It makes our planet distinct from all the others, controls how heat is lost from the deep earth and controls most of what happens on the Earth surface, from the very shape of the land we walk on and the ocean depths to why we have life, oxygen, and everything.

Here is an animation of how I think plate tectonics has worked over the last billion years - yes, BILLION years - 1,000,000 years. Note the little orange dot is the centre of the universe--otherwise known as Adelaide!

My research, and that of the Tectonics and Earth Systems research team that I lead, deals with plate tectonics in deep time. This may be in understanding how the rocks in some part of the world can be read to reveal the tectonic geography of the time they formed--unraveling past volcanic arcs, continental collisional zones or vast mountain ranges. It may be looking at how the arrangements of plate boundaries and the distribution of the continents and topography/bathymetry controlled nutrient supply to the oceans leading to blooms of bacteria and oxygen oases in a largely anoxic world. The planet is over 4½ billion years old, it is incredible what has happened in this time. The record is preserved in the rocks...

I am a data-focussed geologist whose research focuses on applying a wide range of earth science specialisations to address tectonic questions. I am interested in how plate tectonics controls many earth surface systems and this unique process in terrestrial planets has made our planet habitable for large complex life. Specific projects I am interested in range from tectonic geography problems, like unraveling the formation of Gondwana, investigating the amalgamation and topographic evolution of inland Australia, or investigating the timing of SE Asia accretion, to better understanding a focussed process-based question, such as the fluid nature, timing and physical conditions during detachment fault deformation. Most of my research involves a combination of geochronology/thermochronology with geochemistry and structural geology. Most involves student-focussed projects, significant fieldwork (often international and/or in remote regions), and most projects involve collaboration with a wide-range of specialists based throughout the world.

Anyway - here are a number of articles I've written in the on-line magazine The Conversation, they give a bit of a flavour for the work my team and I do (just click on the images for the stories).

Curious Kids: How do scientists work out how old the Earth is?Curious Kids: Where do rocks come from?When Thailand and Australia were closer neighbours, tectonically speakingWhat's Australia made of geologically, it depends on the state you're inA time capsule containing 118 trillion cubic feet of gas is buried in northern AustraliaHow Eurasia's Tianshan mountains set a stage that changed the worldA map that fills a 500-million year gap in Earth's history

 

Awards

S.W. Carey Medal, Geological Society of Australia, to a person distinguished in the field of tectonics, 2021S.W. Carey Medal

Fellow, Geological Society of Australia, 2020

Research Leadership Award, University of Adelaide, 2018

ARC Future Fellowship, 2012–2016

Edward A. Flinn Award, International Lithosphere Program, for outstanding contribution to the knowledge of the lithosphere, 2007.International Lithosphere Program

ARC Australian Postdoctoral Award, 2000–2003

ARC International Research Exchange Fellow, 1999–2000

Geological Society of London Fermor Fellow, 1997–1999

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2014 Professor University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2013 Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    2005 - 2008 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2004 - 2005 Senior Research Fellow University of Western Australia
    2000 - 2003 ARC Postdoctoral Fellow Curtin University
    1999 - 2000 ARC IREX Fellow Curtin University
    1997 - 1999 Geological Society of London, Fermor Fellow University of Leicester
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2021 Award S.W. Carey Medal Geological Society of Australia Australia
    2020 Fellowship Fellow of the Geological Society of Australia Geological Society of Australia Australia
    2018 Award Research Leadership Award Faculty of Science, University of Adelaide Australia $2,000
    2012 Fellowship ARC Future Fellow The University of Adelaide Australia $822,606
    2007 Award 2007 Edward A. Flinn Award
    2002 Fellowship F.W. James Chair in Geology St Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia Canada
    2000 Fellowship Australian Postdoctoral Fellow Curtin University of Technology Australia $207,012
    1999 Fellowship International researcher exchange program fellow Curtin University of Technology Australia $52,452
    1997 Fellowship Fermor Fellowship Leicester University United Kingdom £46,944
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1993 - 1997 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom PhD
    1990 - 1993 Imperial College London United Kingdom BSc(Hons)
  • Postgraduate Training

    Date Title Institution Country
    1993 - 1997 PhD The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
  • Research Interests

 Funding since 2010

Farkas, Brock, Löhr, Collins

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP210100462

Glauconite: Archive Recording Timing and Triggers of Cambrian Radiation

AU$390,000

2021-2023

Glorie, Kirkland, Collins, Foden, Chew, Hawkesworth

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP200101881

A detrital apatite archive to track crustal growth

AU$320,000

2020-2022

Collins, Farkas, , Glorie, Foden, Payne, Dosseto, Edgoose, Gusterhuber, Jurado, Ackerman, Close

Australian Research Council Linkage Project [partners NTgovernment, Origin, Santos, Inperial Oil and Gas] LP160101353

Tectonic Geography of the World's Oldest Petroleum Play, the McArthur Basin

AU$1,075,000

2017-2021

Arnold; Spooner; Prideaux; Hill; Collins; Austin; Tibby; Worthy; Hesp; Popelka-Filcoff; Hutchinson

Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) LE170100177

A regional optical dating facility in Australia

AU$290,000

2016

Collins, Glorie, Holford, Evans, McInnes, Gleadow Reid

Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) LE150100145

The South Australian Thermochronometry Hub (SA Thermo)

AU$170,000

2015

Glorie, Collins, Xiao, Evans

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP150101730

Building Central Asia: Linking the Growth of Asia to its Exhumation

AU$216,300

2015-2017

Hand, Clark, Collins, Collins

Australian Antarctic Division

AAD 4191

The Windmill-Bunger connection: a key to geodynamic models for the Precambrian Australian-Antarctic continent

AU$755,504

2012-2016

Collins

Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT120100340

The Origin of Australian Gondwana – Using Isotopic Proxies for Subduction to Reconstruct Ancient Oceans

AU$822,606

2012-2016

King, Collins, Tingay, Backe, Morley

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP120101460

Detachments in evaporites and shales: their controls on fold-thrust belt style and wedge geometry

AU$260,000

2012-2014

Halverson, Collins, Foden, Johnson, Hagadorn

National Geographic Society (US)

The Eastern Arabian Shield: Window into Supercontinental Assembly at the Dawn of Animal Life

$US20,000

2011-2013

Lister, Jourdan, Forster, McInnes, Vasconcelos, Rosenbaum, Cooke, Harris, Giles, Collins, Aitchison, Daczko, Collins, Reddy, Li, McCuaig, Miller, Pillans, Grun, Zwingmann, Evans, McWilliams

Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) LE110100047

Events through time: eruptions, extinctions, impacts, ore-bodies and orogenies - upgrading the national argon geochronology network

AU$420,000

2010

Nanson, Jones, Chivas, Woodroffe, Fryirs, Murray-Wallace, Dodson, Cohen, Harrison, Nanson, Williams, Collins, Amos, Hesse, Cendón, Pietsch, Brooks, Goodwin, Olley

Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) LE110100220

Sonic drilling to provide contamination-free core sampling of rock and unconsolidated

sediment

AU$150,000

2010

Kelsey, Hand, Collins, Jourdan, Smithies, Kirkland

Australian Research Council – Linkage Project LP100200127

Constraining conditions and timing of orogeny and reworking in the west Musgrave Province

AU$192,000

2010-2014

Babinski, Collins

FAPESP – Sao Paulo state foundation (Brazil)

Paleogeografia do Neoproterozoico e a amalgamação do Gondwana -

500 milhões de anos de interação continental

BrzR$ 34,146

2010

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Co-Supervisor iPhD Project: Exploring the Paleozoic Warburton-Amadeus Depositional System with Novel Isotope Techniques: New Constraints on Chronostratigraphy and Thermal History of the Basins Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Cecilia Vanina Loyola
    2021 Co-Supervisor Novel Dating of Fluid-Flow Metallogenic Events in East Tennant Creek Region, Northern Territory Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Osama Abdullah A Alzubaidi
    2019 Principal Supervisor Shale Geochemistry and Geochronology of the Greater McArthur Basin Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Darwinaji Subarkah
    2018 Co-Supervisor Paleoenvironments of the Tonian-Cryogenian of the Adelaide Basin Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Georgina Mitford Virgo
    2018 Principal Supervisor Provenance, Basin Analysis and Isotopic History of the Tonian-Cryogenian Flinders Ranges Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jarred Cain Lloyd
    2018 Co-Supervisor Low Temperature Thermal Evolution of the McArthur Basin and Associated Basement Terrane Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Angus Leslie Nixon
    2017 Principal Supervisor Crustal Evolution of the Dharwar Craton, India Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Venkata Pavan Katuru
    2017 Co-Supervisor Novel Geochemical and Geochronological tools for Cu-Au mineralization Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ahmad Abdullah A Redaa
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2019 Principal Supervisor The tectonic evolution of the southern Congo Craton Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Brandon Luke Alessio
    2016 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Tectonic geography of Mesoproterozoic Wilton package, north Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Bo Yang
    2015 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Tectonic Evolution of Madagascar over Three Billion Years of Earth's History Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Sheree Armistead
    2015 - 2018 Co-Supervisor The thermochronological evolution of the northern Gawler Craton and northern Adelaide Rift Complex Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr James William Hall
    2015 - 2018 Co-Supervisor The Low-Temperature Tectonic Evolution of the Western Tian Shan (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Gilby Mats Jepson
    2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Late Paleozoic and Mesozoic thermotectonic evolution of the north-eastern margin of the Tianshan (Kazakhstan, NW China), and investigations of apatite detrital provenance methods Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jack Alexander Gillespie
    2015 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Tectonic evolution and palaeogeography of Thailand Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Romana Elysium Carthew Dew
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor The Isotopic Evolution of the Northern East African Orogen Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Morgan Lee Blades
    2013 - 2016 Principal Supervisor The Tectonic Evolution of Khao Khwang Fold-Thrust Belt, Central Thailand: new Insights into the Permian and Triassic Evolution of the Indosinian Orogeny in SE Asia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Francesco Arboit
    2013 - 2016 Principal Supervisor The Stenian-Cambrian Tectonic Evolution of Central Madagascar Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Donnelly Brian Archibald
    2013 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Petrology and Geochemistry of Sangeang Api and Recent Volcanism in The Sumbawa-Flores Sector of The Sunda Arc: The Response of Along-Arc Geochemistry to Subduction Processes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Benjamin James Cooke
    2013 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Proterozoic Crustal Growth in the Southeastern Gawler Craton; The Development of the Barossa Complex, and an Assessment of the Detrital Zircon Method Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Kieran Meaney
    2012 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Constraints on the timing and physical conditions of shale detachment faulting using natural examples Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Rowan Lawrence Hansberry
    2010 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Geochronological and Geochemical Constraints on the Lithospheric Evolution of the Arabian Shield, Saudi Arabia: Understanding Plutonic Rock Petrogenesis in an Accretionary Orogen Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Frank Alexander Robinson
    2009 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Supercontinents and Glaciation: a perspective from western Gondwana Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Mr Ben McGee
    2009 - 2014 Principal Supervisor The tectonic evolution of the Southern Granulite Terrane of India and its role in the amalgamation of Gondwana Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Diana Zivak
    2009 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Elemental, Sotopic and Molecular Signatures of Early Cambrian Marine Sediments and a Phantom Petroleum System in South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Tony Hall
    2008 - 2017 Principal Supervisor A Geochronological U-Pb Zircon La-ICPMS Age and Provenance Study of Wanni, Highland and Vijayan Complexes of Sri Lanka and Proterozoic Pranhita-Godavari Purana Basin of India Unveils Origin of Sri Lanka Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Udeni Bandara Amarasinghe
    2008 - 2011 Co-Supervisor The Architecture and Evolution of Intracontinental orogens: a structural, metamorphic and geochemical characterisation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Tom Raimondo
    2006 - 2011 Principal Supervisor Palaeoproterozoic eclogite formation in Tanzania: a structural, geochronological, thermochronological and metamorphic study of the Usgaran and Ubende orogenic belts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Rachael Brick
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  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2007 - ongoing Member Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia Australia
    2005 - ongoing Member Adelaide University Geological Society Australia
    1999 - ongoing Member Geological Society of Australia Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2020 - ongoing Consulting Editor Geosciences MDPI Switzerland
    2016 - ongoing Board Member Geological Magazine United Kingdom
    2007 - ongoing Board Member Precambrian Research
    2003 - ongoing Associate Editor Gondwana Research
    2000 - ongoing Board Member Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences (Advisory Board Member)
  • Position: Professor
  • Phone: 83133174
  • Email: alan.collins@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4347
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Mawson, floor G
  • Room: G 44
  • Org Unit: Earth Sciences

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