Becky Flowers                            

Thermochronology & Geochronology

Dept of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder

I am a geochronologist who couples analytical data that provide temporal information with geologic observations to address Earth science problems. My group’s research encompasses:

  • Developing and applying “deep-time” (U-Th)/He thermochronology to decipher thermal histories over 100s of Myr to Gyr intervals.
  • Constraining the timing of ancient unconformity development (e.g., the “Great Unconformities”) and potential links with tectonic, environmental, and biologic change.
  • Determining long-term (10s-100s Ma) burial and erosion histories in continental interiors and their potential geodynamic and tectonic causes.
  • Deciphering Cenozoic histories of topographic evolution (e.g., carving of the Grand Canyon, rise of the southern African Plateau) to evaluate links among tectonics, mantle dynamics, erosion, and climate.
  • Constraining lunar impact histories using (U-Th)/He thermochronology.

The southern African Plateau, the Marlborough Fault System of New Zealand, the Rocky Mountains, the U.S. midcontinent, and the Canadian Shield are recent study areas. Our collaborators include geologists, geodynamicists, mantle geochemists, and planetary scientists.

My group also has an important focus on advancing geochronology methods, including:

  • Developing and refining both conventional (e.g., apatite, zircon) and novel (e.g., rutile, perovskite, condonts) (U-Th)/He thermochronometers.
  • Understanding and exploiting dispersion in (U-Th)/He datasets.
  • Better quantifying uncertainties associated with (U-Th)/He dates.
  • A new emphasis on innovation with high-spatial resolution, laser-ablation (U-Th)/He dating methods with the installation of new equipment in our lab in 2021.

CU TRaIL (Thermochronology Research and Instrumentation Lab)

Our (U-Th)/He lab is the core facility of our research group. I established this facility in 2012 with support from an NSF Instrumentation & Facilities award. We have continued to expand our instrumentation with NSF funding. We recently installed an ESI NWR193UC excimer laser and an KLA ZETA-20 optical profiler, and are building a custom, low-volume, He extraction and measurement line. Together this equipment is adding in situ, laser-ablation U-Pb and (U-Th)/He dating capabilities to the TRaIL.

Our lab generates a substantial amount of data for external scientists and regularly hosts visitors. Please visit our lab website and contact me or lab manager Dr. Jim Metcalf if you’re interested in obtaining data in our lab.

Our Research Team

Our group fosters a collaborative and supportive environment in which we emphasize high-quality data, careful thinking, and clear writing. Our goal is to consistently be open-minded to new ways of thinking about the interpretation and significance of our results. We are always seeking smart, creative, motivated students who are a good fit for our research team. We also welcome postdocs with initiative and project ideas. If you’re potentially interested in joining our group, please contact me at rebecca.flowers@colorado.edu.

Recruiting new PhD student for Fall 2022

I am recruiting a new PhD student for Fall 2022 to work on a collaborative NASA project focused on lunar mineral (U-Th)/He dating to better constrain the impact history of the Moon.