Michael Cosca


Michael Cosca is a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who combines 40Ar/39Ar geochronology with mineralogy, petrology, and field geology to understand igneous, metamorphic, and tectonic processes at the regional, local, and sub-grain scale. Mike received his undergraduate degree in geology from the University of California, Berkeley (1981) and M.Sc. (1985) and Ph.D. (1989) in geology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. After completing his Ph.D., he moved to Switzerland and for nearly 19 years conducted scientific research at the University of Lausanne. During this time he constructed a 40Ar/39Ar research laboratory and obtained research funding that supported 4 Ph.D. students, 2 M.Sc. students and 2 post-doctoral scholars and worked closely with colleagues from Lausanne. This research was funded primarily with grants he obtained from the Swiss National Science Foundation with additional support from the University of Lausanne.

Mike joined the U.S Geological Survey in 2008 and supervises the 40Ar/39Ar geochronology laboratory in Denver. His research is broadly focused on understanding the geochronology of ore deposits, mountain building, volcanic stratigraphy, landscape formation, near-surface faulting, physical and chemical controls of argon distribution in minerals and rocks, and developing novel methods for 40Ar/39Ar analysis. Much of his research involves collaborations with USGS scientists from the Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center and the Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center. Current research projects include the Cenozoic landscape evolution of the Southern Rocky Mountains, igneous activity related to mineralization in the Basin and Range province, and the timing of fluid flow and mineralization in the Proterozoic mid continent rift of North America.


Buchs, D., Pilet, S., Baumgartner, P., Cosca, M., Flores, K., and Bandini, A., 2013, Low-volume intraplate volcanism in the Early/Middle Jurassic Pacific basin documented by accreted sequences in Costa Rica: Geology, Geophysics, Geosystems (G3), v. 14, p. 1552-1568.

Lüdecke, T., Mikes, T., Rojay, F.B., Cosca, M., and Mulch, A., 2013, Stable isotope-based reconstruction of Oligo-Miocene paleoenvironment and paleohydrology of Central Anatolian lake basins (Turkey): Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 22, p. 793-819.

Farmer, G.L., Glazner, A.F., Kortmeier, W.T., Cosca, M.A., Jones, C.H., Moore, J.E., and Schweickert, R.A., 2013, Mantle lithosphere as a source of postsubduction magmatism, northern Sierra Nevada, California: Geosphere, v. 9, p. 1102-1124.

Idleman, L., Cosca, M.A., Heizler, M.T., Thomson, S.N., Teyssier, C., Whitney, D.L., 2014, Tectonic burial and exhumation cycles tracked by muscovite and K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar  thermochronology in a strike-slip fault zone, central Turkey: Tectonophysics, v. 612-613, p. 134-146.