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Ross Mitchell
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  No.19 Beitucheng West Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100029, China

Education and Appointments:

Google Scholar h-index = 18, citations = 1,405


  1. Professor, Institute of Geology & Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGGCAS) (since 2021)
  2. Secretary, UNESCO IGCP 648 Supercontinent Cycles & Global Geodynamics (since 2016)


  1. Associate Professor, Institute of Geology & Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGGCAS) (2019-2020)
  2. Adjunct Research Associate, School of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Curtin University (2019-2020)
  3. Research Fellow, School of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Curtin University (2016-2019)
  4. Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology (2013-2016)
  5. Visiting Fellow, Department of Geology & Geophysics, Yale University (2013)


  1. 2003, Kent School
  2. 2007, B.A. (Geology), Carleton College
  3. 2013, Ph.D. (Geology & Geophysics), Yale University

Research Interests:

How Earth works, from core to crust. My areas of expertise are palaeomagnetism, cyclostratigraphy, and Earth history. The Earth system is completely integrated, but plate tectonic theory is not. Explaining the dynamics of past supercontinents, and even predicting future supercontinents, requires a systems theory approach.

Liu Xu 刘旭, Ph.D. student
Ou Qiqi 欧琪琪, Masters student

Funding for PhD and Master students AVAILABLE. Papers make careers. Contact me if you want to help with a paper or have an idea of your own.

Public Services:

  1. 2021, 2020 Excellent Scientific and Technological Achievements of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics
  2. 2020, Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI)
  3. 2019, Young Talents Plan, Institute Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  4. 2016, National Science Foundation Antarctica Service Medal
  5. 2013, Philip M. Orville Prize in Geology and Geophysics, Yale University
  6. 2011, Estwing Hammer Prize for Field Geology, Yale University
  7. 2010, Young Scientist Award, 6th International Dyke Conference, Varanasi, India
  8. 2008, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  9. 2007, Carleton College Dean’s Office Research Fellowship
  10. 2006, Carleton College Dean’s Office Research Fellowship
  11. 2006, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Student Research Fellowship
  12. 2006, Class of 1963 Fellowship

Supported Projects:

Selected Publication:

*corresponding author

1.     Zhao, P., He, J., Deng, C., Chen, Y., Mitchell, R.N., 2021, Early Neoproterozoic (870–820 Ma) amalgamation of the Tarim craton (northwestern China) and the final assembly of Rodinia: Geology,

2.     Mitchell, R.N.*, Gernon, T.M., Cox, G.M., Nordsvan, A.R., Kirscher, U., Xuan, C., Liu, Y., Liu, X., He, X., 2021, Orbital forcing of ice sheets during snowball Earth: Nature Communications, vol. 12, p. 4187,

3.     Mitchell, R.N.*, Thissen, C.J., Evans, D.A.D., Slotznick, S.P., Coccioni, R., Yamazaki, T., Kirschvink, J.L., 2021, A Late Cretaceous true polar wander oscillation: Nature Communications, vol. 12, p. 3629,

4.     Jiao, S., Evans, N.J., Mitchell, R.N., Fitzsimons, I.C.W., Guo, J., 2021, Heavy rare-earth element and Y partitioning between monazite and garnet in aluminous granulites: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, vol. 176,

5.     Lan, Z., Zhang, S., Chen, Z.Q., Mitchell, R.N., 2021, Locomotion and feeding trails produced by crabs: Geological Journal,

6.     Mitchell, R.N.*, Zhang, N.*, Salminen, J., Liu, Y., Spencer, C.J., Steinberger, B., Murphy, J.B., Li, Z.X., 2021, The supercontinent cycle: Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, vol. 2, p. 358-374,

7.     Brennan, D.T., Mitchell, R.N., Spencer, C.J., Murphy, J.B., Li, Z.X., 2021, A tectonic model for the Transcontinental Arch: Progressive migration of a Laurentian drainage divide during the Neoproterozoic–Cambrian Sauk Transgression: Terra Nova,

8.     Liu, Y., Mitchell, R.N., Li, Z.X., Kirscher, U., Pisarevsky, S.A., Wang, C., 2021, Archean geodynamics: Ephemeral supercontinents or long-lived supercratons: Geology, G48575.1

9.     Zhang, Z., Peng, P.*, Feng, L., Gong, Z., Mitchell, R.N.*, Li, Y., 2021, Oldest-known Neoproterozoic carbon isotope excursion: Earlier onset of Neoproterozoic carbon cycle volatility: Gondwana Research, vol. 94, p. 1-11,  

10.   Wan, B., Wang, X., Liu, X., Cai, K., Xiao, W., Mitchell, R.N., 2021, Long-lived seamount subduction in ancient orogens: Evidence from the Paleozoic South Tianshan: Geology, vol. 49, p. 531-535,  

11.   Wang, C., Mitchell, R.N.*, Murphy, J.B., Peng, P., Spencer, C.J., 2021, The role of megacontinents in the supercontinent cycle: Geology, vol. 49, p. 402-406,

12.   Kirscher, U.*, Mitchell, R.N.*, Liu, Y., Nordsvan, A.R., Cox, G.M., Pisarevsky, S.A., Wang, C., Wu, L., Murphy, J.N., and Li, Z.X., 2021, Paleomagnetic constraints on the duration of the Australia-Laurentia connection in the core of the Nuna supercontinent: Geology, vol. 49, p. 174-179,

13.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Kirscher, U., Kunzmann, M., Liu, Y., Cox, G.M., 2021, Gulf of Nuna: Astrochronologic correlation of a Mesoproterozoic oceanic euxinic event: Geology, vol. 48, p.25-29,

14.   Youbi, N., Ernst, R.E., Mitchell, R.N., Boumehdi, M.A., Moume, W.E., Lahna, A.A., Bensalah, M.K., S?derlund, U., Doblas, M., Tassinari, C.C.G., 2021, Preliminary Appraisal of a Correlation Between Glaciations and Large Igneous Provinces Over the Past 720 Million Years: Large Igneous Provinces: A Driver of Global Envirnmental and Biotic Changes, Geophysical Monograph 255, Edited by Ernst, R.E., Dickson, A.J., Bekker, A.,

15.   Murphy, J.B., Nance, R.D., Cawood, P.A., Collins, W.J., Dan, W., Doucet, L.S., Heron, P.J., Li, Z.X., Mitchell, R.N., Pisarevsky, S., Pufahl, P.K., Quesada, C., Spencer, C.J., Strachan, R.A., Wu, L., 2020, Pannotia: in defence of its existence and geodynamic significance: Geological Society, London, Special Publications, vol. 503, p.13-39,

16.   Zou, Y., Li, Q.L., Mitchell, R.N., Zhai, M.G., Zou, X.Y., Zhao, L., Wang, Y.Q., Liu, B., 2020, Local rapid exhumation and fast cooling in a long-lived Paleoproterozoic orogeny: Journal of Petrology, vol. 63. egaa091,

17.   Wan, B.*, Yang, X., Tian, X.*, Yuan, H., Kirscher, U., Mitchell, R.N.*, 2020, Seismological evidence for the earliest global subduction network at 2 Ga: Science Advances, vol. 6, eabc5491,

18.   Shan, H., Zhai, M., Mitchell, R.N., Liu, F., Guo, J., 2020, Comparative studies on two phases of Archaean TTG magmas from different blocks of the North China Craton: petrogenesis and constraints on crustal evolution: Geological Magazine,

19.   Zou, Y., Zhai, M., Mitchell, R.N., Zhao, L., Zhou, L., Liu, B., Wang, Y., Chen, M., 2020, Discovery of kyanite in typically cordierite/sillimanite-bearing low-to medium-pressure politic granulites from the Jiaobei terrain, North China Craton: Precambrian Research, vol. 342, 105677,

20.   Doucet, L.S., Li, Z.X., El Dien, H., Pourteau, A., Murphy, J.B., Collins, W.J., Mattielli, N., Olierook, H.K.H., Spencer, C.J., Mitchell, R.N., 2020, Distinct formation history for deep-mantle domains reflected in geochemical differences: Nature Geoscience, vol. 13, p. 511-515,

21.   Mitchell, R.N., Wu, L., Murphy, J.B., Li, Z.X., 2020, Trial by fire: Testing the paleolongitude of Pangea of competing reference frames with the African LLSVP: Geoscience Frontiers, vol. 11, p. 1253-1256,

22.   El Dien, H., Doucet, L.S., Li, Z.X., Cox, G.M., Mitchell, R.N., 2019, Global geochemical fingerprinting of plume intensity suggests coupling with the supercontinent cycle: Nature Communications, vol. 10, 5270,  

23.   Doucet, L.S., Li, Z.X., Ernst, R.E., Kirscher, U., El Dien, H., Mitchell, R.N., 2019, Coupled supercontinent-mantle plume events evidenced by oceanic plume record: Geology, vol. 48, p. 159-163,  

24.   Nordsvan, A.R., Barham, M., Cox, G., Kirscher, U., Mitchell, R.N., 2019, Major shoreline retreat and sediment starvation following Snowball Earth, Terra Nova, vol. 31, p. 495-502,  

25.   Mitchell, R.N.* 2019, Spot the difference: Zircon disparity tracks crustal evolution: COMMENT, Geology, vol. 47, e479,  

26.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Spencer, C.J., Kirscher, U., He, X.F., Murphy, J.B., Li, Z.X., and Collins, W.J., 2019, Harmonic hierarchy of mantle and lithospheric convective cycles: Time series analysis of hafnium isotopes of zircon: Gondwana Research, vol. 75, p. 239-248,

27.   Spencer, C.J., Murphy, J.B., Hoiland, C.W., Johnston, S.T., Mitchell, R.N., and Collins, W.J., 2019 Evidence for whole mantle convection driving Cordilleran tectonics: Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 46, p. 4239-4248,

28.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Gernon, T.M, Nordsvan, A., Cox, G.M., Li, Z.-X., and Hoffman, P.F. 2019, Hit or miss: Glacial incisions of snowball Earth: Terra Nova, vol. 31, p. 381-389,

29.   Li, Z.-X., Mitchell, R.N., Spencer, C.J., Ernst, R., Pisarevsky, S., Kirscher, U., Murphy, J.B., 2019, Decoding Earth’s rhythms: Modulation of supercontinent cycles by longer superocean episodes: Precambrian Research, vol. 323, p. 1-5,

30.   Keller, C.B., Husson, J.M., Mitchell, R.N., Bottke, W.F., Gernon, T.M., Boehnke, P., Bell, E.A., Swanson-Hysell, N., Peters, S.E., 2019, Neoproterozoic glacial origin of the Great Unconformity: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 116, p. 1136-1145,

31.   Milanese, F.N., Olivero, E.B., Raffi, M.E., Franceschinis, P.R., Gallo, L.C., Skinner, S.M., Mitchell, R.N., Kirschvink, J.L., and Rapalini, A.E., 2019, Mid CampanianLower Maastrichtian magnetostratigraphy of the James Ross Basin, Antarctica: Chronostratigraphical implications: Basin Research, vol. 31, p. 562-583,

32.   Kirscher, U., Li, Z.-X., Mitchell, R.N., Pisarevsky, S., Deynzyn, S., and Nordsvan, A., 2019, Paleomagnetism of the Hart Dolerite (Kimberly Region, North Australia craton): Two stage Nuna assembly? Precambrian Research, vol. 329, p. 170-181,

33.   Liu, Y., Li, Z.-X., Pisarevsky, S.A., Kirscher, U., Mitchell, R.N., Stark, J.C., Clark, C., Hand, M., 2018, First Precambrian palaeomagnetic data from the Mawson Craton (East Antarctica) and tectonic implications: Scientific Reports, vol. 8, 16403,

34.   Cox, G.M., Isakson, V., Hoffman, P.F., Gernon, T.M., Schmitz, M.D., Shahin, S., Collins, A.S., Preiss, W., Blades, M.L., Mitchell, R.N., Nordsvan, A., 2018, South Australian U-Pb (CA-ID-TIMS) age supports globally synchronous Sturtian glaciation: Precambrian Research, vol. 315, p. 257-263,

35.   Liu, Y. Li, Z.-X., Pisarevsky, S., Kirscher, U., Mitchell, R.N., Stark, J.C., 2018, Palaeomagnetism of the 1.89 Ga Boonadgin dykes of the Yilgarn Craton: Possible connection with India: Precambrian Research, vol. 329, p. 211-223,

36.   Cox, G.M., Mitchell, R.N., Lyons, T., Hasterock, D., Gard, M.G., 2018, Linking the rise of atmospheric oxygen to growth in the continental phosphorus inventory: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 489, p. 28-36,

37.   Spencer, C.J., Murphy, J.B., Kirkland, C.L., Liu, Y., and Mitchell, R.N., 2018, A Palaeoproterozoic tectono-magmatic lull as a potential trigger for the supercontinent cycle: Nature Geoscience, vol. 11, p. 79-101,

38.   Gong, Z., Xu, X.X., Evans, D.A.D., Hoffman, P.F., Mitchell, R.N., Bleeker, W., 2018, Paleomagnetism and rock magnetism of the ca. 1.87 Ga Pearson Formation, Northwest Territories, Canada: A test of vertical-axis rotation within the Great Slave basin: Precambrian Research, vol. 305, p. 295-309,  

39.   Buchan, K.L., Mitchell, R.N., Bleeker, W., Hamilton, M.A., and LeCheminant, A.N., 2016, Paleomagnetism of ca. 2.13-2.11 Ga Indin and ca. 1.885 Ga Ghost dyke swarms of the Slave craton: Implications for the Slave craton APW path and relative drift of Slave, Superior and Siberian cratons in the Paleoproterozoic: Precambrian Research, vol. 275, p. 151-175,

40.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Raub, T.D., Silva, S.C., and Kirschvink, J.L., 2015, Was the Cambrian explosion both an effect and an artifact of true polar wander? American Journal of Science, vol. 315, p. 945-957, https://doi:10.2475/10.2015.02

41.   Ward, P.D., Haggart, J.W., Mitchell, R.N., and Catlin, E., 2015, Quantitative morphological description of the Late Cretaceous ammonite Baculites inornatus Meek from western North America: implications for species concepts in the biostratigraphically important Baculitidae: The Journal of Paleontology, vol. 89, p. 594-610,

42.   Mitchell, R.N.*, 2014, True polar wander and supercontinent cycles: Implications for lithospheric elasticity and the triaxial Earth: American Journal of Science, vol. 314, p. 966-979, https://doi:10.2475/05.2014.04  

43.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Bleeker, W., van Breemen, O., LeCheminant, A.N., Peng, P., and Nilsson, M.K.M., 2014, Plate tectonics before 2 Ga: Evidence from paleomagnetism of cratons within supercontinent Nuna: American Journal of Science, vol. 314, p. 878-894, https://doi:10.2475/04.2014.03

44.   Tobin, T.S., Ward, P.D., Steig, E.J., Olivero, E.B., Hilburn, I.A., Mitchell, R.N., Diamond, M.R., Raub, T.D., and Kirschvink, J.L, 2012, Extinction patterns, δ18O trends, and magnetostratigraphy from a southern high-latitude Cretaceous-Paleogene section: Links with Deccan volcanism: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 350-352, p. 180-188,

45.   Ward, P.D., Haggart, J.W., Mitchell, R.N., Kirschvink, J.L., and Tobin, T., 2012, Integration of macrofossil biostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy for the Pacific Coast Upper Cretaceous (Campanian-Maastrichtian) of North America and implications for correlation with the Western Interior and Tethys: Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 124, p. 957-974, 

46.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Kilian, T.M, and Evans, D.A.D., 2012, Supercontinent cycles and the calculation of absolute palaeolongitude in deep time: Nature, vol. 482, p. 208-211,

47.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Kilian, T.M., Raub, T.D., Evans, D.A.D., Bleeker, W., and Maloof, A., 2011, Sutton hotspot: Resolving Ediacaran-Cambrian tectonics and true polar wander for Laurentia: American Journal of Science, vol. 311, p. 651-663, https://doi: 10.2475/08.2011.01

48.   Evans, D.A.D. and Mitchell, R.N., 2011, Assembly and breakup of the core of Paleo-Mesoproterozoic supercontinent Nuna: Geology, vol. 39, p. 443-446, , ISI-WOS ‘Highly Cited Paper’

49.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Hoffman, P.F., Evans, D.A., 2010, Coronation loop resurrected: Oscillatory apparent polar wander of Orosirian (2.05-1.8 Ga) paleomagnetic poles from Slave craton: Precambrian Research, vol. 179, p. 121-134,  

50.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Evans, D.A., Kilian, T.M., 2010, Rapid Early Cambrian rotation of Gondwana: Geology, vol. 38, p. 755-758,

51.   Mitchell, R.N.*, Bice, D.M., Montanari, A., Cleaveland, L.C., Christianson, K.T., Coccioni, R., and Hinnov, L.A., 2008, Oceanic Anoxic Cycles? Orbital Prelude to the Bonarelli Level (OAE 2): Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 267, p. 1-16,  


Our Planet’s Changing Orbit Helped Life Survive 'Snowball Earth': Theo Nicitopoulos, Discover

Changes In Planet’s Orbit Allowed Life To Survive ‘Snowball Earth’: David Bressan, Forbes

Changes In Earth’s Orbit Gave Life Its Chance To Survive During “Snowball Earth”: Stephen Luntz, IFLSCIENCE!

Earth tipped over on its side 84 million years ago and then righted itself, new study finds: Aylin Woodward, Business Insider

First clues to the start of Earth's supercontinent cycle found:

What might Earth’s next supercontinent look like? New study provides clues: Jenny Wu, Science

Plate Tectonics Goes Global:

Earth Once Swallowed Its Own Superocean. Could It Happen Again?  Stephanie Pappas, Live Science

Earth is missing a huge part of its crust. Now we may know why: Robin George Andrews in National Geographic

Will There Ever Be Another Pangea? Aylin Woodward, Live Science

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Shannon Hall, Scientific American

Wave of Massive Volcanoes Created Earth’s First Supercontinent: Alice Klein in New Scientist

Paleomagnetic Data Hint at Link From Earth’s Core to Continents: Press in EOS Science News by AGU

What Lies Ahead for Earth’s Shifting Continents Just Might Surprise You: Interview with NBC News for an unbiased opinion on new supercontinent research

Waiting for Amasia: Interview and YouTube video provided for ScienceNews about supercontinents

Unlocking One of the Great Secrets of Earth’s Evolution: Press release about a new interpretation of the Cambrian Explosion.,392129,en.php

Paleomagnetism 101: Podcast interview with Physics Central

Land On the Run: Ross Mitchell / Amasia: Radio interview with Molly Bentley on SETI Big Picture Science

Amasia Supercontinent: Earth’s Geologic Past Shapes Our Understanding of Future: Skype video interview with Cara Santa Maria on Huffington Post - Talk Nerdy To Me

Next Supercontinent Could Form At The North Pole: Live radio interview with John Dankosky on NPR Science Friday

’Amasia’: The Next Supercontinent?: Radio interview with Richard Harris on NPR All Things Considered

Next Supercontinent Will Form in Arctic, Geologists Say: Sindya N. Bhanoo in The New York Times

Meet 'Amasia,' the Next Supercontinent: Sid Perkins of Science Now

Supercontinent Amasia To Take North Pole Position: Radio interview with Kerri Smith on Nature Podcast

America and Eurasia 'to meet at north pole': Neil Bowdler in BBC News

Asia and Americas on Course for Arctic Collision: Brandon Keim in Wired

Look North for the Next Supercontinent Amasia: Alyssa Danigelis in Discovery

Amasia Supercontinent: Earth’s Geologic Past Shapes Our Future: Cara Santa Maria in Huffington Post

Gondwana Supercontinent Underwent Massive Shift During Cambrian Explosion: Suzanne Taylor Muzzin in YaleNews

Massive Rotation of Gondwana: Jonathan Greco of Yale Scientific

True Polar Wander: Article in Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Newsletter

No. 19, Beitucheng Xilu, Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, PR China
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