Nadine McQuarrie

Associate Professor


Nadine McQuarrie
403 SRCC
Pittsburgh, PA 15260



Dr. McQuarrie received her Ph.D. at the University of Arizona in 2001 with an emphasis in Structure and Tectonics. She was a Post-Doctoral Scholar at California Institute of Technology from 2001-2004 and an assistant professor at Princeton University before joining the Department in 2011. Dr. McQuarrie spent a year at Tuebingen University in Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow (2011-2012).

  • Research
  • Publications
  • Laboratory Members
  • Teaching

Our group studies the geometric, kinematic and erosional evolution of mountain belts, particularly in the Himalaya, Andes and Appalachians. Current research activities focus on linking the geometry and kinematics of mapped structures to thermochronometer cooling ages to look at the interplay between tectonics and erosion on exhumation patterns and morphology of mountain ranges. Research projects start with structurally based field studies, typically through the creation of new geologic maps at previously unpublished scales or resolutions. Using this high resolution geological mapping as a foundation, the projects expand to include the creation and sequential restoration of geologic cross sections (providing kinematics) as well as new mineral cooling ages to determine the distribution, magnitude and rate of deformation. Details of current projects available here.  


Research Areas

McQuarrie, N. and Ehlers T.A., in rev, Techniques for understanding fold-thrust belt kinematics and thermal evolution: invited contribution for GSA Memoir in honor of Robert Hatcher.

*Eichelberger, N., McQuarrie, N., Ryan, J., Karimi, B., Beck, S., Zandt, G., 2015, Evolution of crustal thickening in the central Andes Bolivia, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 426, p. 191-203,

*Perez, N. D., Horton, B. K., McQuarrie, N., Stübner, K., and Ehlers, T. A., in press, Andean shortening, inversion and exhumation associated with thin- and thick-skinned deformation in southern Peru: Geological Magazine, doi:10.1017/S0016756816000121.

*Tate, G.W., McQuarrie, N., van Hinsbergen, D.J.J., Bakker, R., Harris, R.A. and H. Jiang, 2015, Australia going down under: Quantifying continental subduction during arc-continent accretion in Timor-Leste: Geosphere, v. 11, doi:10.1130/GES01144.1.

McQuarrie, N. and Ehlers T.A., 2015, Influence of thrust belt geometry and shortening rate on thermochronometer cooling ages: Insights from the Bhutan Himalaya: Tectonics, 34, doi:10.1002/ 2014TC003783.

Chapman, A.D., Ducea, M.N., McQuarrie, N., Coble, M., Petrescu, L., Hoffman, D., 2015, Constraints on plateau architecture and assembly from deep crustal xenoliths, northern Altiplano (SE Peru): Geological Society of America Bulletin doi:10.1130/B31206.1

Eichelberger, N., and McQuarrie, N., 2015, Kinematic Reconstruction of the Bolivian Orocline: Geosphere v. 11, p. 445-462, doi:10.1130/GES01064.1

Eichelberger, N., and McQuarrie, N., 2015, 3-D Finite Strain at the Andean Orocline and Implications for grain-scale shortening in orogens: Geological Society of America Bulletin. v. 127, no. 1-2, p. 87-112 doi:10.1130/B30968.1

Tate, G.W., McQuarrie, N., van Hinsbergen, D.J.J., Bakker, R.R., Harris, R., Willett, S., Reiners, P., Fellin, M.G., Ganerød, M., Zachariasse, J-W., 2014, Resolving spatial heterogeneities in exhumation and surface uplift in East Timor: constraints of deformation processes in young orogens: Tectonics v, 15, p. 1089–1112. doi:10.1002/2013TC003436

McQuarrie, N., Tobgay, T., Long, S.P., Reiners, P.W., Cosca, M.A., 2014, Variable exhumation rates and variable displacement rates: documenting a recent slowing of Himalayan shortening in western Bhutan: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 386, p. 161-174,

Eichelberger, N., McQuarrie, N., Ehlers, T.A., Enkelmann, E., Barnes, J.B., Lease, R.O., 2013, New constraints on the chronology, magnitude, and distribution of deformation within the central Andean orocline: Tectonics, v. 32, p. 1-22, doi:10.1002/tect.20073.

Leier, A., McQuarrie, N., Garzione, C., Eiler, J., 2013, Oxygen isotope evidence for multiple pulses of surface uplift in the Central Andes, Bolivia: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 371-372, p. 49-58, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.04.025

McQuarrie, N., Long, S.P., Tobgay, T., Nesbit, J.N., Gehrels, G., Ducea, M., 2013, Documenting basin scale, geometry and provenance through detrital geochemical data: lessons from Neoproterozoic to Ordovician strata of Bhutan:  Gondwana Research, v. 23, p. 1491-1510, doi 10.1016/

McQuarrie, N., and van Hinsbergen, D.J.J., 2013, Retrodeforming the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone: Age of collision versus magnitude of continental subduction: Geology, v. 41, p. 315-318, doi:10.1130/G33591.1.

Barnes, J.B., Ehlers T.A., Insel., N., McQuarrie, N., Poulsen C.J., 2012, Linking orography, climate, and exhumation across the central Andes: Geology, v. 40, p. 1135-1138, doi:10.1130/G33229.

Long, S.P., McQuarrie, N., *Tobgay T., Coutand, I., Cooper, F., Reiners, P., Wartho, J., Hodges, K., 2012, Variable shortening rates in the eastern Himalayan thrust belt, Bhutan: insights from multiple thermochronologic and geochronologic datasets tied to kinematic reconstructions: Tectonics, v. 31, TC5004, doi:10.1029/2012TC003155.

Robinson, D.M. and McQuarrie, N. 2012, Pulsed deformation and variable slip rates in the Central Himalayan Thrust Belt: Lithosphere, v. 4, p. 449-464, doi: 10.1130/L204.1

Tobgay T, McQuarrie, N., Long, S.P., Kohn, M.J., Corrie, S.L., 2012, The age and rate of displacement along the Main Central Thrust in the western Bhutan Himalaya: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 319-320, p. 146-158, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.12.005


Full list of Publications available here.

GEOL 1100 Structural Geology

An introduction to basic geologic structures, including the development of folds, faults, joints, and foliation. The use of these structures in geologic mapping, and their interpretation in terms of structural geometry will be covered. The concepts of stress and strain will also be introduced. These basic concepts will be integrated into a study of the evolution of mountain belts.

Offered every spring term. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours.

GEOL 2110 Plate Tectonics

Historical background of the concept of plate tectonics. Geophysical evidence for reconstructing the motions of continental and oceanic areas. Plate tectonic processes and characteristics of plate boundaries. Dynamics -- the nature of the driving forces. Geosynclines, orogenic belts and crustal evolution will be examined with regard to plate tectonic theory. Types of plate boundaries (divergent and convergent zones, transform faults) will be studied and compared to existing geotectonic features.

Offered every other year. Lecture, 3 hours.

GEOL 2120  Basin Analyses

The integrated study of sedimentary basins as geodynamic entities, including tectonic environment, geologic history and associated strength of the lithosphere, rock weathering and erosion, and sediment transport. The class will give students a background in driving mechanisms for basin formation and subsidence, sedimentary record preservation and alteration, sedimentary geometry, facies and petrology and provide a basic understanding of the continuum mechanics equations that approximate basin formation.

Offered every other year. Lecture, 3 hours.

GEOL 3908 Topics in Geology

This course allows the flexibility of exploring, in depth, a new topic in geology each time it is taught.  Past topics have included:

Appalachian Geology -- This seminar course is designed to cover all things Appalachian; tectonic setting, paleoclimate record, thermal history, sedimentology, stratigraphy, depositional environments, structural geology (regional, outcrop, to micro scale), geomorphology (regional and local scales), geochemical signatures, etc.,

Fold-thrust belts and sedimentary basins -- Paired fold-thrust belts/foreland basin systems produce the largest mountains in the world as well as host a large percentage of the world’s oil and gas reserves.  Understanding the geometry and kinematics of this paired system is a requirement for understanding how these mountain systems and the reservoirs of natural resources form.   Reading assignments and lectures will cover the origins of fold-thrust belts, thrust belt geometry, mechanics and kinematics as well as learning the technique of balancing cross sections through a fold-thrust belt.