James Louis Aronson

Academic Appointments

Professor of Earth Sciences

I use conventional K/Ar dating to determine the history of tectonically active areas such as Iceland, Taiwan and the East African rift. By dating the important potassium-bearing clay minerals illite and illite/smectite we explore the burial and subsurface fluid flow diagenetic processes that have affected sedimentary basins and volcanic terranes, including petroleum migration and ore emplacement. A current project utilizes the areal and stratigraphic distribution of K/Ar dates on detrital muscovite and illite in sandstones and shales in the Appalachian Basin to refine the history of the associated composite Appalachian orogenic belt on its east. I hope to build a single crystal laser fusion system for complementing the conventional dating approach to this problem.

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223 Fairchild


Earth Sciences


  • B.A. Rice University
  • M.S. California Institute of Technology
  • Ph.D. California Institute of Technology

Selected Publications

  • Aronson, J.L., Million, H., Savin., S.M., Hominid enviroments at Hadar from paleosol studies in a framework of Ethiopian climate change., Journal of Human Evolution., 2008 1-19 doi 10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.04.0004

  • Altaner, S.P., Ylagan, R.F., Savin, S.M., Aronson, J.L., Belkin, H.E., and Pozzuoli, A., 2003, Geothermometry, geochronology, and mass transfer associated with hydrothermal alteration of a rhyolitic hyaloclastite from Ponza Island, Italy: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 67, p. 275-288.

  • Aronson, J. (prefacer), and Bish, D.L.(prefacer), 2002, Reynolds commemorative volume [modified]: American Mineralogist, v. 87, p. 1517-1740.

  • Hailemichael, M., Aronson, J.L., Savin, S., Tevesz, M.J.S., and Carter, J.G., 2002, delta (super 18) O in mollusk shells from Pliocene Lake Hadar and modern Ethiopian lakes; implications for history of the Ethiopian monsoon: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 186, p. 81-99.

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Selected Works & Activities

  • Wgabriel, G., and J. L. Aronson, 1987, Chow Bahir Rift - A Failed Rift in Southern Ethiopia: Geology, v. 15, p. 430-433.

  • Aronson, J. L., and M. Lee, 1986, K/Ar systematics of bentonite and shale in a contact metamorphic zone, Cerrillos, New Mexico: Clays and Clay Minerals, v. 34, p. 483-487.

  • Aronson, J., and R. L. Burtner, 1983, K-Ar Dating of Illitc Clays in Jurassic Nugget Sandstone and Timing of Petroleum Migration in Wyoming Overthrust Belt: AAPG Bulletin-American Association of Petroleum Geologists, v. 67, p. 414-414.

  • Aronson, J., and R. L. Burtner, 1982, K/Ar Dating of Illitic Clay in Sandstone Reservoirs and Timing of Petroleum Migration: AAPG Bulletin-American Association of Petroleum Geologists, v. 66, p. 1442-1442.

  • Aronson, J. L., T. J. Schmitt, R. C. Walter, M. Taieb, J. J. Tiercelin, D. C. Johanson, C. W. Naeser, and A. E. M. Nairn, 1977, New geochronologic and palaeomagnetic data for the hominid-bearing Hadar Formation of Ethiopia: Nature, v. 267, p. 323-327.

  • Hoffman, J., J. Hower, and J. L. Aronson, 1976, Radiometric dating of time of thrusting in the disturbed belt of Montana: Geology, v. 4, p. 16-20.