Prof Randy Parrish

Prof Randy ParrishIsotope Geochemist

Location: NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory, Keyworth and Department of Geology, University of Leicester

Tel: 0115 936 3427

E-mail Professor Randy Parrish


  • Present: Head of the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory
  • Director of Science Facilities, British Geological Survey
  • Joint appointment with the University of Leicester's Department of Geology and NIGL at the BGS 1996

Research interests

  • Himalayan tectonic evolution and Neogene erosion, mainly Bhutan, Tibet, India, Burma
  • The measurement of U isotopes in environmental and biological materials (esp. human urine): assessment of exposure to depleted uranium in military conflicts.
  • U-Th-Pb geochronology applied to a wide variety of applications using accessory minerals and carbonate, mainly using LA-ICP-MC-MS methods.
  • Innovations in chemistry and mass spectrometry in U-Th-Pb dating and other isotopic systems, including plasma multicollector mass spectrometry
  • Accessory minerals in metamorphism: reactions, P-T conditions, and isotopic systematics with applications to the Himalaya
  • The Neogene rise of the Coast Mountains of western Canada as a contributing cause of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation
  • Exhumation of ultra high pressure metamorphic rocks and its chronometry
  • Provenance of sediments and dust and applications to Neogene erosion and climate change
  • Dating of Quaternary carbonate rocks by high precision U-Pb dating in archaeology, hominid evolution, climate archives
  • Development of improved biomarkers for Pb exposure in population epidemiology using biological materials and teeth.


  • U-Th-Pb geochronology
  • Isotope geochemistry and mass spectrometry
  • Tectonics, structure and evolution of the continental crust
  • Climate change and tectonics
  • N American Cordilleran geology
  • Precambrian geology
  • Himalayan geology
  • Nuclear chemistry and isotope synthesis
  • Heavy metal pollution, isotopic studies of metal bioavailability in soils
  • Depleted uranium and human exposure
  • Environmental isotope geochemistry
  • Management of large research groups/facilities

Current grants

  • River capture in the Easternmost Himalaya:Testing erosion-tectonic feedback models using paleo-Brahmaputra deposits of the Bengal Basin, Bangladesh; NERC, 2009–2012
  • Dating the "Taung Child" Australopithecus africanus type specimen through U-Pb measurements of associated calcite crystals; NERC, 2010–2012
  • Dust storms and Chinese loess sources over the last 22 million years; NERC, 2011–1014
  • The origin of short-lived nuclides in the early solar system: implications for the assembly of terrestrial bodies; STFC  2008–2012.
  • European EARTHTIME training network
  • Other NERC Facility grants dedicated to PhD student projects

Professional association

  • Editor Precambrian Research 2007–onwards
  • Editorial Board, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2009–onwards
  •  NERC Coordinator for DU research 2008–2009
  • Peer Review College of NERC 2009–onwards
  • NERC Cosmogenic Isotope Facility Steering Committee 2008–2012
  • RAE 2008 Specialist Evaluation Panel for Geochronology (HEFCE)
  • Earth Sciences Panel Expert, Norwegian Research Council 2005–present
  • NERC Ion Microprobe Facility Steering Committee 2005–2014 (Chair)
  • NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities Steering Committee 1996–present

Published outputs

Key papers

Foster, G L, Lunt, D J, Parrish, R R.  2010. Mountain uplift and glaciation of North America – A sensitivity study, Climates of the Past,  6, 1–10, 2010. doi:10.5194/cp-6-1-2010

Parrish, R R, Arneson, J, Brewer, T, Chenery, S, Lloyd, N, Carpenter, D. 2008. Depleted uranium contamination by inhalation exposure and its detection after >25 years: implications for health assessment. Science of the Total Environment, Science of the Total Environment v. 390, 58–68; doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.09.044.

Chambers, J, Parrish, R R, Argles, T, Harris, N, and Horstwood, M. 2011. A short duration pulse of ductile normal shear on the outer South Tibetan detachment in Bhutan: alternating channel flow and critical taper mechanics of the eastern Himalaya, Tectonics, doi:10.1029/2010TC002784, in press.

Foster, G, Parrish, R R, Horstwood, M S A, Chenery, S, Pyle, J, & Gibson, H D. 2004. The generation of prograde P–T–t points and paths; a textural, compositional, and chronological study of metamorphic monazite. Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Horstwood, M S A, Parrish, R R, Nowell, G M, & Noble, S R. 2003. Accessory mineral U-Th-Pb geochronology by laser-ablation plasma-ionisation multi-collector mass spectrometry (LA-PIMMS). J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2003, 18, 837–846.