Matthijs Smit

Assistant Professor

Canada Research Chair (Tier II)

EOS-South 363
(604) 827-0195
Accepting students

My research involves studying the dynamics and geochemistry of the lithosphere through time. Current research interests are: 1) timing and duration of petrological processes; 2) formation and differentiation of Earth's early crust; 3) evolution of the Pamir-Himalaya-Tibet mountain range; 4) controlling factors and novel applications in chronology (Lu-Hf, Sm-Nd, U-Pb); 5) trace-element and isotope analysis by LA-ICPMS; 6) feedback among reactive fluid flow, phase changes and deformation in subducted crust.

The research is done as part of the CFI- and NSERC-funded collaborative research initiative "Earth’s codependent siblings: studying dynamic interactions between crust and mantle in ancient and modern continents", which runs at UBC since 2015. The goal of this program is to answer major questions regarding the formation and evolution of (early) continents, and their bearing on global geochemical cycles. The project makes use of the world-leading analytical infrastructure at PCIGR and integrates field research, analytical geochemistry and mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS, LA-ICPMS, TIMS), petrological analysis, and micro-structural studies. Current research focus is on fragments of the deep crust and mantle exposed in Scandinavia, Canada, Greenland, and Central Asia. As part of this program, I established and manage the Lu-Hf chronology facility at PCIGR. This facility is open to external users and can be used upon request.


  • Cutts, J.A., Smit, M.A. (2018) Rates of deep continental burial from Lu-Hf garnet chronology and Zr-in-rutile thermometry on (ultra-)high pressure rocks. Tectonics, doi: 10.1002/2017TC004723 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Mezger, K. (2017) Earth’s early O2 cycle suppressed by primitive continents. Nature Geosci. 10, 788-792 (link) (N&V) (SRF).
  • Shrestha, S., Larson, K.P., Guilmette, C., Smit, M.A. (2017) The P-T-t evolution of the exhumed Himalayan metamorphic core in the Likhu Khola region, East Central Nepal. J. Metamorph. Geol. 35, 663-693 (link).
  • Kooijman, E., Smit, M.A., Ratschbacher, L., Kylander-Clark, A.R.C. (2017) A view into crustal evolution at mantle depths. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 465, 59-69 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Waight, T.E., Nielsen, T.F.D. (2016) Millennia of magmatism recorded in crustal xenoliths from alkaline provinces in Southwest Greenland. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 451, 241-250 (link).
  • Hagen-Peter, G., Cottle, J., Smit, M.A., Cooper, A.F. (2016) Coupled garnet Lu-Hf and monazite U-Pb geochronology constrain early convergent margin dynamics in the Ross orogen, Antarctica. J. Metamorph. Geol. 34, 293-319 (link).
  • Borst, A.M., Friis, H., Andersen, T., Nielsen, T.F.D., Waight, T.E., Smit, M.A. (2016) Zirconosilicates in the kakortokites of the Ilímaussaq complex, South Greenland: Implications for fluid evolution and HFSE-REE mineralisation in agpaitic systems. Mineral. Mag. 80, 5-30 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Ratschbacher, L., Kooijman, E., Stearns, M.A. (2014) Early evolution of the Pamir deep crust from Lu-Hf and U-Pb geochronology and garnet thermometry. Geology 42, 1047-1050 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Hacker, B.R., Lee, J. (2014) Tibetan garnet records early Eocene initiation of thickening in the Himalaya. Geology 42, 591-594 (link).
  • Kellett, D.A., Cottle, J.M., Smit, M.A. (2014) Eocene deep crust at Ama Drime, Tibet: Early evolution of the Himalayan orogen. Lithosph. 6, 220-229 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Scherer, E.E., Mezger, K. (2013) Lu-Hf and Sm-Nd garnet geochronology: chronometric closure and implications for dating petrological processes. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 381, 222-233 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Scherer, E.E., Mezger, K. (2013) Peak metamorphic temperatures from cation diffusion zoning in garnet. J. Metamorph. Geol. 31, 339-358 (link).
  • Kooijman, E., Smit, M.A., Mezger, K., Berndt, J. (2012) Trace element systematics in granulite facies rutile: implications for Zr geothermometry and provenance studies. J. Metamorph. Geol. 30, 397-412 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Scherer, E.E., John, T., Janssen, A. (2011) Creep of garnet in eclogite: Mechanisms and implications. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 311, 411-419 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Bröcker, M., Kooijman, E., Scherer, E.E. (2011) Provenance and exhumation of an exotic eclogite-bearing nappe in the Caledonides: a U–Pb and Rb–Sr study of the Jæren nappe, SW Norway. J. Geol. Soc. London 168, 421-439 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Scherer, E.E., Bröcker, M., van Roermund, H.L.M. (2010) Timing of eclogite facies metamorphism in the southernmost Scandinavian Caledonides by Lu–Hf and Sm–Nd geochronology. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 159, 521-539 (link).
  • Smit, M.A., Bröcker, M., Scherer, E.E. (2008) Aragonite and magnesite in eclogites from the Jæren nappe, SW Norway: disequilibrium in the system CaCO3–MgCO3 and petrological implications. J. Metamorph. Geol. 26, 959-979 (link).        


2014-now: Assistant Professor, CRC Tier II, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (CA)
2013-2014: Adjunct Professor, University of Copenhagen (DK)
2011-2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara (USA)
Ph.D., 2010: Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster (D)
MSc, 2006: Universiteit Utrecht (NL)

Graduate Students

PhD Geological Sciences
MSc Geological Sciences