Teaching Petrology Using the Primary Scientific Literature

Use readings from the primary literature to: provide a historical perspective of our science; promote critical thinking; help students develop analytical and synthetic thinking; demonstrate applications of modern scientific methods and techniques; and prepare students to begin to contribute to our scientific heritage.

Teaching Strategies

Many of us use the primary literature in our courses. However, students (particularly undergraduates) need some guidance in learning how to mine the information in professional scientific writings. Here are a few examples of different approaches one can take in teaching students how to read journal articles.

Recommended Review and Landmark Volumes

Reviews of Mineralogy and Geochemistry-- thematic volumes

Consider using chapters from the Reviews of Mineralogy and Geochemistry series. These volumes are the primary source reference for the chosen topics. These volumes are written at a level of an upper division undergraduate or starting graduate student. Each volume provides essential background information for each topic, and also presents the "state of the art". A great place for students to engage in-depth study of the topic, or as a foundation to start a new research project! See a complete listing of topics in this series, and purchase these volumes, at the Mineralogical Society of America Bookstore

Volumes of Landmark Papers (compiled and edited from the "classical" published literature)

Landmark Papers in Volcanic Petrology, papers selected by Ian S. W. Carmichael (2004). This volume provides an historical perspective of the great advances in volcanic petrology. Order from the Mineralogical Society of America. A collection of "classic" articles, with editorial commentary on the context and impacts of these important contributions.


Landmark Papers No 3, Metamorphic Petrology (2007), edited by B.W. Evans. Order from the Mineralogical Society of America. A collection of "classic" articles, with editorial commentary on the context and impacts of these important contributions.

Readings from Elements Magazine

Each volume of Elements Magazine focuses on a mineralogy, petrology, or geochemistry topic of interest. These are typically short articles that are easily accessed by students at all levels. The articles provide a good entree to the context and significance of each topic, and the applications to Science and society. Suggested volumes from the recent past that can readily be used in mineralogy, petrology or geochemistry courses include:

  • Elements v.7 issue 4 August 2011 When the Continental Crust Melts
  • Elements v.6 issue 3 June 2010 Fluids in Metamorphism
  • Elements v.4 issue 1 February 2008 Supervolcanoes
  • Elements v.3 issue 4 August 2007 Frontiers in Textural and Microgeochemical Analysis v3, n1 Zircon related papers
  • Elements v.2 issue 5 Melt papers
  • Elements v.2 issue 4 Early Earth papers
  • Elements v.1 issue 5 Large Igneous Provinces papers
  • Elements v.1 issue 2Diamond papers


Recommended Articles on Igneous Petrology

This is a compilation of scholarly articles recommended for use in igneous and metamorphic petrology courses. The original compilation was made by Allen Glazner, University of North Carolina, with subsequent contributions made by colleagues on the Mineralogical Society of America email list.


"Classic" Articles on Igneous Petrology Compiled from MSA Listserv January 2012

The January 2012 MSA listserv contains review articles as well as articles on basaltic magma generation, granitic rock, volcanic rocks, and igneous processes. You can also download a Word document that contains the January 2012 MSA petrology article compilation (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 25kB Jan31 12).


Recommended Articles on Metamorphic Petrology


This is a compilation of scholarly articles recommended for use in igneous and metamorphic petrology courses. The original compilation was made by Allen Glazner, University of North Carolina, with subsequent contributions made by colleagues on the Mineralogical Society of America email list.


"Classic" Articles on Metamorphic Petrology Compiled from GEO-Metamorphism Listserv January 2012

The January 2012 MSA listserv contains general articles as well as articles on Solid Inclusion Piezothermometry, Tectonometamorphism, Tectonometamorphic Mineral Kinetics, Preferred Orientation, and Tectonometamorphic Rates. You can also download a Word document that contains the January 2012 MSA metamorphism article compilation (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 21kB Jan31 12).


Please contribute! Send references to articles you regularly use in your teaching about igneous and metamorphic petrology along with a short description of why the article is interesting or important to: Dave Mogk, mogk AT montana.edu.

New TTE Logo Small

Petrology resources from across Teach the Earth »

Key Resources:

Join the Community:

or search

Advertisement