Lincoln S. Hollister

Professor of Geosciences, Emeritus
Department of Geosciences

Title: Professor of Geosciences, Emeritus

Area(s): Geology, Metamorphic Petrology, Orogenic Systems & Tectonics

About Me

Lincoln Hollister retired on July 1, 2011. A celebration of his retirement was held on April 30, 2011 at Guyot Hall and at Prospect House.

Download: A Celebration of the Life and Work of Lincoln Hollister

Videos: Panel Discussion

Lincoln Hollister has been a Geosciences faculty member since 1968.  Driving his research and teaching is this major question: how are mountains and continental crust made?  To address this, Hollister uses the pressure-temperature-time-strain history of rocks - the products of mountain building – to investigate the tectonic processes operating on continental crust.

1. Projects Accrete and its successor Batholiths are multidisciplinary research efforts aimed at determining how continental crust is made.

2. Studies in the Himalayas in Bhutan define the role of channel flow in mountain building.

3. Inspired by late Professor Rob Hargraves’ seminal work on lamellar magnetism, Hollister is revisiting the “Baja British Columbia” controversy - whether or not parts of western Canada traveled northward from low latitudes during latest Cretaceous.

Subduction & Orogeny

4. Hollister has collaborated with artists to create “Subduction & Orogeny: an Underground Story, Retold in Stainless Steel and Metamorphic Rocks” for Quark Park, a temporary sculpture garden in downtown Princeton that explores the connections between art and science.


How are mountains and continental crust made?  This is the major question driving my research and teaching. I interpret the pressure-temperature-time-strain history of rocks in the context of the tectonic processes operating on the continental crust.  My contributions are based on direct observation of the products of mountain building.  I have forged collaborations with people in other disciplines, and I work over a wide range of disciplines with the objective to achieve results unattainable by focusing on only one or two disciplines.

Linc Hollister image

This approach led to the article that Chris Andronicos and I wrote (Hollister & Andronicos, 2006), which brought together results from the 1993-2000 multidisciplinary project ACCRETE into a hypothesis for formation of continental crust.

My current research is on three fronts: the origin of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, the origin of the Himalayas in Bhutan, and the proterozoic metamorphic history of northern New Mexico.

1) BATHOLITHS.  My biggest research commitment (funded 2003-2008) had been the multidisciplinary collaboration, called BATHOLITHS, which proposed to resolve the continental crust composition paradox: although continental crust begins as accreted island arcs, the average composition of continental crusts is more silicic than that of island arcs.  Before becoming stable continental crust, the original island arc composition is modified by processes that are not understood. This is a fundamental problem in the earth sciences, and was a topic of a special conference convened in June 2006 in Valdez, Alaska, and the subject of the article by Hollister & Andronicos (2006).

The disciplines of BATHOLITHS included active and passive source seismology, geochemistry, structural geology, and petrology.  Most of these endeavors have been exceedingly successful, but the active source seismology experiment was terminated by Canadian government authorities in response to public pressure organized against the project. See:


Igneous and Metamorphic Geology 
Evolution of the Continents 
Field Geology 
Igneous Petrology 
Metamorphic Petrology

Related Links:

Lincoln Hollister: A Sense of the ImmenseThe Living Stories Collective, (2016)

New mineral "hollisterite" named in honor of P.E. Lincoln S. Hollister, Geosciences: In The News, (2016)

Hollister Retirement Panel Discussion

In honor of Professor of Geosciences Lincoln Hollister retirement, the Department hosted a celebration on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Guyot Hall and Prospect House. In attendance were family, friends, colleagues, collaborators, and students of Prof. Hollister. Read the full article

During the celebration there were six panel discussions:

  • British Columbia/Alaska
  • The Moon Rocks
  • Bhutan
  • Fluid Inclusions
  • Informal Science Education/Outreach
  • Teaching Geology in New Mexico.

The discussions were lead by W. Jason Morgan, Glenn Woodsworth, Chris Andronicos, Robert Dymek, Djordje Grujic, Robert Burruss, Robin McKinney Martin, Peter Freeman, and Katherine Barnhart.

Panel Discussions 1, British Columbia/Alaska

Panel Discussions 2, Moonrocks

Panel Discussions 3, Bhutan

Panel Discussions 4, Fluid Inclusion

Panel Discussions 5, Informal Science Education/Outreach

Panel Discussions 6, Teaching Geology in New Mexico