Nigel Harris is Professor of Tectonics at the Open University (since 2001). His doctoral research focussed on the origin of granites in the Pyrenees (University of Cambridge). Following post-doctoral studies in the field of Archean tectonics and zircon geochronology at the University of Toronto and the Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory (Washington D.C.) Prof Harris developed his taste for fieldwork as a survey geologist on the Arabian-Nubian Shield (Saudi Arabia) and for mineral exploration, on the Semail ophiolite (UAE).
Returning to the UK he worked as a lecturer for the University of London and then the Open University where he developed his research on crustal growth in the Arabian-Nubian shield and on the evolution of the lower crust (origin of charnockites) in South India. Since 1985 he has been working primarily in Tibet and the Himalaya, linking tectonics, metamorphism and magmatism to improve our understanding of the evolution of both crust and lithospheric mantle during continental collision and of the causes of Himalayan earthquakes.
Recently Prof Harris’ research has (i) extended the use of isotopic proxies for silicate weathering; (ii) tested climate-topography linkages in southern Asia by quantifying the elevation history of the Tibetan Plateau and by exploring its impact on monsoon intensity; (iii) assessed variations in monsoon intensity on millenia timescales through speleothem studies in NE India. This research forms an integral part of the outputs of the Himalaya-Tibet Research Group and the Dynamic Earth Research Group at the Open University. Other recent projects include crustal melting in the Canadian Cordillera, intra-plate magmatism and seismicity in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, and post-collisional magmatism in the Caucasus (Georgia).