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Francis M. Mccubbin

Astromaterials Curator

Contact Information

Phone: 281-483-5126

ARES Researcher Francis Mccubbin


Francis McCubbin is the astromaterials curator within the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at the Johnson Space Center. As curator, McCubbin is responsible for protecting the scientific integrity of NASA's priceless astromaterials collections and distributing select samples to the global community for further scientific examination. His research focuses on understanding the abundance, distribution and origin of water in the inner solar system, as well as deciphering the thermal and magmatic evolution of the terrestrial planets, moons and asteroids. Before coming to Johnson, McCubbin spent five years as a research scientist at the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. When he's not pondering the inner workings of the solar system, McCubbin spends his free time with family and friends, as well as geocaching, gardening, cooking and listening to music. He also values another collection — his own stash of old U.S. coins.


DegreeArea of StudySchoolYear
Ph.D.GeosciencesStony Brook University2009
B.S.GeologyTowson University2004

Research/Engineering Interests

Selected Publications

Sarafian, A.R., Hauri, E.H., McCubbin, F.M., Lapen, T.J., Berger, E., Nielsen, S.G., Marschall, H.R., Gaetan, G.A., Righter, K., and Sarafian, E. (2017) Early accretion of water and volatile elements to the inner solar system: Evidence from angrites. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, in press.

Vader Kaaden, K.E., McCubbin, F.M., Nittler, L.R., Peplowski, P.N., Weider, S.Z., Frank, E.A. and McCoy, T.J. (2017) Geochemistry, mineralogy, and petrology of boninitic and komatiitic rocks on the mercurian surface: Insights into the mercurian mantle. Icarus, 285, 155-168.

Steele, A., McCubbin, F.M., and Fries, M.D.F. (2016) The provenance, formation, and implications of reduced carbon phases in Martian meteorites. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51, 2203-2225.

Williams, J.T., Shearer, C.K., Sharp, Z.D., Burger, P.V., McCubbin, F.M., Santos, A.R., Agee, C.B., McKeegan, K. D. (2016) The chlorine isotopic composition of martian meteorites Part1. Chlorine isotope composition of martian mantle and crustal reservoirs and their interactions. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51, 2092-2110.

McCubbin, F.M., Boyce, J.W., Srinivasan, P., Santos, A.R., Elardo, S.M., Filbert, J., Steele, A. and Shearer, C.K. (2016) Heterogeneous distribution of H2O in the martian interior: Implications for the abundance of H2O in depleted and enriched mantle sources. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51, 2036-2060.

Filbert, J., Gross, J. and McCubbin, F.M. (2016) Constraints on the water, chlorine, and fluorine content of the Martian mantle. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51, 2023-2035.

Filiberto, J., Baratoux, D., Beaty, D., Breuer, D., Farcy, B.J., Grott, M., Jones, J.H., Kiefer, W.S., Mane, P., McCubbin, F.M., and Schwenzer, S.P. (2016) A review of volatiles in the martian interior. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51, 1935-1958.

Jones, R.H, McCubbin, F.M., and Guan, Y. (2016) Phosphate minerals in the H group of ordinary chondrites, and fluid activity recorded by apatite heterogeneity in the Zag H3-6 regolith breccia. American Mineralogist, 101, 2452-2467.

McCubbin, F.M., Boyce, J.W., Novak-Szabó, T., Santos, A.R., Tartèse, R., Muttik, N., Domokos, G., Vazquez, J., Keller, L.P., Moser, D.E., Jerolmack, D.J., Shearer, C.K., Steele, A., Elardo, S.M., Rahman, Z., Anand, M., Delhaye, T., and Agee, C.B. (2016) Geologic history of martian regolith breccia Northwest Africa 7034: Evidence for hydrothermal activity and lithologic diversity in the martian crust. J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 121, 2120-2149 doi:10.1002/2016JE005143.

Ehlmann, B.L., Anderson, F.S., Andrews-Hanna, J., Carter, J., Catling, D.C., Christensen, P.R., Cohen, B.A., Dressing, C.D., Edwards, C.S., Elkins-Tanton, L.T., Farley, K.A., Fassett, C.I., Fischer, W.W., Fraeman, A.A. Golombek, M.P., Hamilton, V.E., Hayes, A.G., Herd, C.D.K. Horgan, B., Hu, R., Jakosky, B.M., Johnson, J.R., Kasting, J.F., Kerber, L., Kinch, K.M., Kite, E.S. Knutson, H.A., Lunine, J.I., Mmhaffy, P.R., Mangold, N., McCubbin, F.M., Mustard, J.F., Niles, P.B., Quantin-Nataf, C.M., Rice, S., Stack, K.M., Stevenson, D.J., Stewart, S.T., Toplis, M.J. Usui, T., Weiss, B.P., Werner, S.C., Wordsworth, R.D., Wray, J.J., Yingst, R.A. Yung, Y.L., and Zahnle, K.J. (2016) The Sustainability of Habitability on Terrestrial Planets: Insights, Questions, and Needed Measurements from Mars for Understanding the Evolution of Earth-like Worlds. J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 121, 1927-1961 doi:10.1002/2016JE005134.

Blewett, D.T., Stadermann, A.C., Susorney, H.C., Ernst, C.M., Xiao, Z., Chabot, N.L., Denevi, B.W., Munchie, S.L., McCubbin, F.M., Kinczyk, M.J., Gillis-Davis, J.J., and Solomon, S.C. (2016) Analysis of MESSENGER high-resolution images of Mercury's hollows and implications for hollow formation. J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 121 1798-1813, doi:10.1002/ 2016JE005070.

Barnes, J.J., Tarts, R., Anand, M., McCubbin, F.M., Neal, C.R., and Franchi, I.A. (2016) Early degassing of lunar urKREEP by crust-breaching impact(s). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 447, 84-94.

Nyqvist, L.E., Shih, C., McCubbin, F.M., Santos, A.R., Shearer Jr, C.K., Peng, Z., Burger, P.V. and Agee, C.B. (2016) Rb-Sr and Sm-Nd isotopic and REE studies of igneous components in the bulk matrix domain of martian breccia Northwest Africa 7034. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51, 483-498.

Vader Kaaden, K.E. and McCubbin, F.M. (2016) Origin of boninites on Mercury: An experimental study of the northern volcanic plains lavas, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 173, 246-263.

Evans, L.G., Peplowski, P.N., McCubbin, F.M., McCoy, T.J., Nittler, L.R., Molotov, M.Y., Ebel, D.S., Lawrence, D.J., Starr, R.D., Weider, S.Z., and Solomon, S.C. (2015) Chlorine on the surface of Mercury: MESSENGER gamma-ray measurements and implications for the planet's formation and evolution. Icarus, 257, 417-427.

Ustunisik, G., Nekvasil, H., Lindsley, D.H., and McCubbin, F.M. (2015) Degassing pathways of Cl-, F-, H-, and S-bearing magmas near the lunar surface: Implications for the composition and Cl isotopic values of lunar apatite. American Mineralogist, 100, 1717-1727.

McCubbin, F.M., Vander Kaaden, K.E., Tarts, R., Boyce, J.W., Mikhail, S., Whitson, E.S., Bell, A.S., Anand, M., Franchi, I.A., Wang J., and Hauri E.H. (2015) Experimental investigation of F, Cl, and OH partitioning between apatite and Fe-rich basaltic melt at 1.0-1.2 GPa and 950-1000 °C. American Mineralogist, 100, 1790-1802.

McCubbin, F.M., Vander Kaaden, K.E., Tartèse, R., Klima, R.L., Liu, Y., Mortimer, J., Barnes, J.J., Shearer, C.K., Treiman, A.H., Lawrence, D.J., Elardo, S.M., Hurley, D.M., Boyce, J.W., and Anand, M. (2015) Magmatic volatiles (H, C, N, F, S, Cl) in the lunar mantle, crust, and regolith: Abundances, distributions, processes, and reservoirs. American Mineralogist, 100, 1668-1707.

McCubbin, F.M. and Jones, R.H. (2015) Extraterrestrial apatite: Planetary geochemistry to Astrobiology. Elements, 11, 183-188.

Eland, S.M., Shearer, C.K., Vander Kaaden, K.E., McCubbin, F.M., and Bell, A.S. (2015) Petrogenesis of primitive and evolved basalts in a cooling Moon: Experimental constraints from the youngest known lunar magmas. Earth and Planetary science Letters, 422, 126-137.

Santos, A.R., Agee, C.B., McCubbin, F.M., Shearer, C.K., Burger, P. V., Tartèse, R., Anand, M. (2015) Petrology of igneous clasts in Northwest Africa 7034: Implications for the petrologic diversity of the martian crust. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 157, 56-85

Vader Kaaden, K.E. and McCubbin, F.M. (2015) Exotic crust formation on Mercury: Consequences of a shallow, FeO-poor mantle, J. Geophys. Res. Planets, 120, 195-209, doi:10.1002/2014JE004733.

Shearer, C.K., Burger, P.V., Papike, J.J., McCubbin, F.M., and Bell, A.S. (2015) Crystal chemistry of merrillite from martian meteorites. Mineralogical recorders of magmatic processes and planetary differentiation. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 50, 649-673.

Vader Kaaden, K.E., Agee, C.B., and McCubbin, F.M. (2015) Density and compressibility of the molten lunar picritic glasses: Implications for the roles of Ti and Fe in the structures of silicate melts. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 149, 1-20.

Shearer, C.K., Elardo, S.M., Petro, N.E., Borg, L.E., and McCubbin, F.M. (2015) Origin of the lunar highlands Mg-suite: An integrated petrology, geochemistry, chronology, and remote sensing perspective. American Mineralogist, 100, 294-325.

Muttik, N., McCubbin, F.M., Keller, L.P., Santos, A.R., McCutcheon, W.A., Provence, P.P., Rahman, Z., Shearer, C.K., Boyce, J.W., and Agee, C.B. (2014) Inventory of H2O in the ancient Martian regolith from Northwest Africa 7034: The important role of Fe oxides. Geophysical Research Letters, 41, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062533.

McCubbin, F.M., Sverjensky, D.A., Steele, A., Mysen, B.O. (2014) In-situ characterization of oxalic acid breakdown at elevated P and T: Implications for organic C-O-H fluid sources in petrologic experiments. American Mineralogist, 99, 2258-2271.

Hovis, G.L., Scott, B.T., Altomare, C.M., Leaman, A.R., Morris, M.D., Tomaino, G.P., and McCubbin, F.M. (2014) Thermal expansion of fluorapatite-hydroxylapatite crystalline solutions. American Mineralogist, 99, 2171-2175.

Sarafian, A.R., Nielsen, S.G., Marschall, H.R., McCubbin, F.M., and Monteleone, B.D. (2014) Early accretion of water in the inner solar system from a carbonaceous chondrite-like source. Science, 346, 623-626.

Mikhail, S., Howell, D., and McCubbin, F.M. (2014) Evidence for multiple diamondite-forming events in the mantle. American Mineralogist, 99, 1537-1543.

Shearer, C.K., Sharp, Z.D., Burger, P.V., McCubbin, F.M., Provence, P.P., Brearley, A.J., and Steele, A. (2014) Chlorine distribution and its isotopic composition in "rusty rock" 66095. Implications for volatile element enrichments of "rusty rock" and lunar soils, origin of "rusty" alteration, and volatile element behavior on the Moon. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 139, 411-433.

McCubbin, F.M., Shearer, C.K., Burger, P.V., Hauri E.H., Wang J., Elardo, S.M., and Papike, J.J. (2014) Volatile abundances of coexisting merrillite and apatite in the martian meteorite Shergotty: Implications for merrillite in hydrous magmas. American Mineralogist, 99, 1347-1354.

Hooves, G.L., McCubbin, F.M., Nekvasil, H., Woerner, W., and Lindsley, D.H. (2014) A novel technique for fluorapatite synthesis and the thermodynamic mixing behavior of F-OH apatite crystalline solutions. American Mineralogist, 99, 890-897

Boyce, J.W., Tomlinson, S.M., McCubbin, F.M., Greenwood, J.P., and Treiman, A.H. (2014) The lunar apatite paradox. Science, 344, 400-402 DOI:10.1126/science.1250398.

Tarts, R., Anand, M., McCubbin, F.M., Elardo, F.M., Shearer, C.K., and Franchi, I.A. (2014) Apatites in lunar KREEP basalts: The missing link to understanding the H isotope systematics of the Moon. Geology, 42, 363-366.

Jones, R.H, McCubbin, F.M., Dreamland, L., Guan, Y., Burger, P.V., and Shearer C.K. (2014) Phosphate Minerals in LL Chondrites: A Record of the Action of Fluids During Metamorphism on Ordinary Chondrite Parent Bodies. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 132, 120-140.

Barnes, J.J., Tarts, R., Anand, M., McCubbin, F.M., Franchi, I.A., Starkey, N.A., and Russell, S.S. (2014) The origin of water in the primitive Moon as revealed by the lunar highlands samples. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 390, 244-252.

Eland, S.M., Shearer, C.K., Fagan, A.L., Borg, L.E., Gaffney, A.M., Burger, P.V., Neal, C.R., Fernandes, V.A., and McCubbin, F.M. (2014) The origin of young mare basalts inferred from lunar meteorites Northwest Africa 4734, 032, and LaPaz Icefield 02205. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 49, 261-291.

Hughes, J.M., Nekvasil, H., Ustunisik, G., Lindsley, D.H., Coraor, A.E., Vaughn, J., Phillips, B., McCubbin, F.M., and Werner, W.R. (2014) Solid solution in the fluorapatite - chlorapatite binary system: High-precision crystal structure refinements of synthetic F-Cl apatite. American Mineralogist, 99, 369-376.

Sharp, Z.D., McCubbin, F.M., and Shearer, C.K. (2013) A hydrogen-based oxidation mechanism relevant to planetary formation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 380, 88-97.

McCubbin, F.M., Elardo, S.M., Shearer Jr, C.K., Smirnov, A., Hauri, E.H., Draper, D.S. (2013) A petrogenetic model for the co-magmatic origin of chassignites and nakhlites: Inferences from chlorine-rich minerals, petrology, and geochemistry. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 48, 819-853.

Agee, C.B., Wilson, N.V., McCubbin, F.M., Ziegler, K., Polyak, V.J., Sharp, Z.D., Asmerom, Y., Nun, M.H., Shaheen, R., Thiemens, M.H., Steele, A., Fogel, M.L., Bowden, R., Glamoclija, M., Zhang, Z., Elardo, S.M. (2013) Unique Meteorite from Early Amazonian Mars: Water-Rich Basaltic Breccia Northwest Africa 7034. Science, 339, 780-785. 10.1126/science.1228858.

Paprika, J.J., Burger, P.V., Shearer, C.K., McCubbin, F.M. (2013). Experimental and crystal chemical study of the basalt–eclogite transition in Mars and implications for martian magmatism. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 104, 358-376.

Dodd J.P., Sharp Z.D., Fawcett P.J., Brearley A.J., McCubbin F.M. (2012) Rapid post-mortem maturation of diatom silica oxygen isotope values. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 13, Q09014, doi:10.1029/2011GC004019.

McCubbin F.M., Hauri E.H., Elardo, S.M., Vander Kaaden, K.E., Wang J., and Shearer C.K. (2012) Hydrous melting of the martian mantle produced both depleted and enriched shergottites. Geology, 40, 683-686. 10.1130/G33242.1.

Steele, A., McCubbin, F.M., Fries, M.D.F., Golden, D.C., Ming, D.W. and Benning L.G. (2012) Graphite in the martian meteorite Allan Hills 84001. American Mineralogist, 97, 1256-1259.

Steele, A., McCubbin, F.M., Fries, M., Kater, L., Doctor, N.Z., Fogel, M.L., Conrad, P.G., Glamoclija, M., Spencer, M., Morrow, A.L., Hammond, M.R., Zare, R.N., Vicenzi, E., Siljestrom, S., Bowden, R., Herd, C.D.K., Mysen, B.O., Shirey, S.B., Amundsen, H.E.F., Treiman, A.H., Bullock, E.S., and Jull, A.J.T., (2012) A reduced organic carbon component in martian basalts. Science, 337, 212-215. 10.1126/science.1220715.

Eland, S.M., McCubbin, F.M., and Shearer, C.K. (2012) Chromite symplectites in Mg-suite troctolite 76535 as evidence for infiltration metasomatism of a lunar layered intrusion. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 87, 154-177.

McCubbin, F.M., Riner, M.A., Vander Kaaden, K.E., and Barkeeper L.K., (2012) Is Mercury a volatile-rich planet? Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L09202, doi:10.1029/2012GL051711.

McCubbin F.M., Jolliff B.L., Nekvasil H., Carpenter P.K., Ziegler R.A., Steele A., Elardo S.M., and Lindsley D.H. (2011) Fluorine and chlorine abundances in lunar apatite: Implications for heterogeneous distributions of magmatic volatiles in the lunar interior. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 5073-5093.

Riner M.A., Lucey P.G., McCubbin F.M., and Taylor G.J. (2011) Constraints on Mercury's surface composition from MESSENGER neutron spectrometer data. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 308, 107-114.

Shearer C.K., Papike J.J., Burger P.V., Sutton S.R., McCubbin F.M., and Newville M. (2011) Direct determination of europium valence state by XANES in extraterrestrial merrillite: Implications for REE crystal chemistry and martian magmatism. American Mineralogist, 96, 1418-1421.

Riner M.A., McCubbin F.M., Lucey P.G., Taylor G.J., and Gillis-Davis J.J. (2010) Mercury surface composition: Integrating petrologic modeling and remote sensing data to place constraints on FeO abundance. Icarus, 209, 301-313.

Steele A., McCubbin F.M., Fries M., Glamoclija M., Kater, L., and Nekvasil H. (2010) Graphite in an Apollo 17 impact melt breccia. Science, 329, 51.

McCubbin F.M., Steele A., Hauri E.H., Nekvasil H., Yamashita S., and Hemley R.J. (2010) Nominally hydrous magmatism on the Moon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107, 11223-11228. doi/10.1073/pnas.1006677107.

McCubbin F.M., Steele A., Nekvasil H., Fries M., Schneiders A., Rose T., Carpenter P.K., Jolliff B.L. (2010) Detection of structurally bound hydroxyl in apatite from Apollo Mare basalt 15058,128 using TOF-SIMS. American Mineralogist, 95, 1141-1150.

McCubbin F.M., Smirnov A., Nekvasil H., Lindsley D.H., Wang J., and Hauri E.H. (2010) Hydrous magmatism on Mars: A source of water for the surface and subsurface during the Amazonian. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 292, 132-138. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.01.028

Nekvasil H., McCubbin F.M., Harrington A.D., Elardo S.M., and Lindsley D.H. (2009) Linking the Chassigny meteorite and the Martian surface rock Backstay: Insights into igneous crustal differentiation processes on Mars. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 44, 853-869.

McCubbin F.M., Tosca N.J., Smirnov A., Nekvasil H., Lindsley D.H., Fries M., and Steele A. (2009) Hydrothermal jarosite and hematite in a pyroxene-hosted melt inclusion in martian meteorite MIL 03346: Implications for magmatic hydrothermal fluids on Mars. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73, 4907-4917.

Mason H.E., McCubbin F.M., Smirnov A. and Phillips B.L. (2009) Solid-State, NMR spectroscopic investigation of the role of water and F in a natural carbonate-fluorapatite. American Mineralogist, 94, 507-516.

Riner M.A., Lucey P.G., Desch S.J., and McCubbin F.M. (2009) Nature of opaque components on Mercury: Insights into a mercurial magma ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L02201. doi:10.1029/2008GL036128

McCubbin F.M., Nekvasil H., Harrington A.D., Elardo S.M., and Lindsley D.H. (2008) Compositional diversity and stratification of the Martian crust: Inferences from crystallization experiments on the picrobasalt Humphrey from Gusev Crater, Mars. Journal of Geophysical research-Planets, 113, E11013. doi:10.1029/2008JE003165

McCubbin F.M. and Nekvasil H. (2008) Maskelynite-hosted apatite in the Chassigny meteorite: Insights into late-stage magmatic volatile evolution in Martian magmas. American Mineralogist, 93, 676-684.

McCubbin F.M., Mason H.E., Park H., Parise J.B., Phillips B.L., Nekvasil H., and Lindsley D.H. (2008) Synthesis and characterization of low-OH- fluor-chlorapatite: A single crystal XRD and NMR spectroscopic study. American Mineralogist, 93, 210-216.

Nekvasil H., Filbert J., McCubbin, F.M., and Lindsley D.H. (2007) Alkalic parental magmas for the Chassignites? Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 42, 979-992.