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Dr Ian Sanders

Fellow Emeritus

Tel: + 353 1 896 2002 
Office: Museum Building, Office 1.3


  • Meteorites and the first five million years of the solar system

Common stony meteorites (called chondrites) are conventionally regarded as fragments of asteroids that were formed at the outset of the solar system because they have the same condensed element chemistry as the Sun. I believe instead that chondrites are made from debris left over from collisions between small molten planetary bodies as they merged to make larger ones and eventually planets. This approach circumvents many otherwise intractable problems in attempts to explain the origin of chondrules – frozen silicate spherules that account for >50% by volume of many chondrites. Since 1992 I have been assembling evidence that favours this alternative interpretation of the young solar system.

  • The deep continental crust

Convergent tectonics leads to partial melting and desiccation of the thickened deep continental crust. My interest is in deciphering the record of these processes from the textures and mineral chemistry of high-pressure metamorphic rocks. Much of this work focuses on the NE Ox Mountains Inlier near Sligo in western Ireland, and on the Glenelg Inlier in NW Scotland.

  • Mineralogy

I enjoy solving mineralogical problems in a wide range of materials, including quarried stone aggregate for construction, archaeological artifacts, “meteorwrongs’, works of art, and rock specimens.



SANDERS, I. S. and SCOTT, E. R. D. 2012. The origin of chondrules and chondrites: Debris from low-velocity impacts between molten planetesimals? Meteoritics  and Planetary Science 47, 2170–2192.

PHILLIPS, W.E.A,, TAYLOR W.E.G. and SANDERS, I.S. 1975.  An analysis of the geological history of the Ox Mountains inlier.  Scientific Proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society, Series A, 5, 311-329

PANKHURST, R.J., ANDREWS, J.R., PHILLIPS, W.E.A., SANDERS, I.S. and TAYLOR, W.E.G. 1976  Age and structural setting of the Slieve Gamph Igneous Complex, Co. Mayo, Eire. Journal of the Geological Society of London, 132, 327-336

SANDERS, I.S. and MORRIS, J.H. 1977.  Evidence for Caledonian subduction from greywacke detritus in the Longford-Down inlier.  Journal of Earth Science, Royal Dublin Society 1, 53-62

SANDERS, I.S. 1978  A possible Al-Ti-augite high-pressure cumulate from the Glenelg inlier, NW Scotland.  Lithos 11, 15-22

SANDERS, I.S. 1979  Observations on eclogite- and granulite-facies rocks in the basement of the Caledonides.  In Caledonides of the British Isles-reviewed (eds. A.L. Harris, C.H. Holland and B.E. Leake)  Special Publication of the Geological Society of London, No. 8, 97-100.

SANDERS, I.S. and MORRIS, J.H. 1980      Evidence for Caledonian subduction from greywacke detritus in the Longford-Down inlier: Reply to discussion by M.J. McMurtry.  Journal of Earth Science, Royal Dublin Society 2, 211-212

MOLLOY, M.A. and SANDERS, I.S. 1983 The NE Ox Mountains inlier. In Geological guide to the Caledonides of western Ireland (eds Archer, J.B. and Ryan, P.D.) Geological Survey of Ireland, Guide Series no. 4,  52-55

DAVIS, V and SANDERS, I 1984 The Chester Beatty collection of Chinese snuff bottles. Hermathena 136, 42-52

SANDERS, I.S., VAN CALSTEREN, P.W.C. AND HAWKESWORTH, C.J. 1984  A Grenville Sm-Nd age for the Glenelg eclogite in north-west Scotland Nature 312, 439-440

SANDERS, I.S. 1985  A Grenville Sm/Nd age for the Glenelg eclogite; Reply to comment by R.A. Strachan and P.J. Treloar.  Nature 314, 754-755

SANDERS, I.S. 1986  Gas filter-pressing origin for segregation vesicles in dykes.  Geological Magazine 123, 67-72

SANDERS, I.S., DALY, J.S. AND DAVIES, G.R. 1987  Late Proterozoic high-pressure granulite facies metamorphism in the north-east Ox inlier, north-west Ireland.   Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 5, 69-85

SANDERS, I.S. 1988  Plagioclase breakdown and regeneration reactions in Grenville kyanite eclogite at Glenelg, NW Scotland.  Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 98, 33-39

ALLAN, J.E.M., COEY, J.M.D., SANDERS, I.S., SCHWERTMANN, U, FRIEDRICH, G. and WIECHOWSKI, A, 1989  An occurrence of a fully-oxidized natural titanomaghemite in basalt.  Mineralogical Magazine 53, 299-304

SANDERS, I.S. 1989  Phase relations and P-T conditions for eclogite-facies rocks at Glenelg, north-west Scotland, In Daly, J.S., Cliff, R.A. and Yardley, B.W.D. (eds) Evolution of Metamorphic Belts.  Special Publication of the Geological Society of London No. 43, 513-517

SANDERS, I.S. and JOHNSTON, J.D. 1989. The Torridonian Stac Fada member: an extrusion of fluidised peperite?. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences 80, 1-4.

SANDERS, I.S. and JOHNSTON, J.D. 1990 Reply to "The Torridonian Stac Fada member: a discussion". Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences 81, 249-250.

SANDERS, I.S. 1991. Exhumed lower crust in NW Ireland, and a model for crustal conductivity. Journal of the Geological Society of London 148, 131-135.

SANDERS, I.S. and DOFF, D.H. 1991. A blue sodic beryl from southeast Ireland. Mineralogical Magazine 55, 167-172.

SANDERS, I.S.  1994  Northeast Ox Mountains inlier, Ireland. In A revised correlation of Precambrian rocks in the British Isles (ed. W. Gibbons and A.L. Harris) Geological Society of London Special Publication no 22, 62-63

SANDERS, I.S. 1996.  A chondrule-forming scenario involving molten planetesimals. In
Chondrules and the protoplanetary disk (eds R.H. Hewins, R.H. Jones and E.R.D. Scott) Cambridge University Press.  327-334

SANDERS, I.S. 1997 Grenvillian extensional tectonics in northwest Scotland: Comment and Reply. Comment. Geology 25, 1151

COEY, J.M.D., VENKATESAN, M., FITZGERALD, C.B., DOUVALIS, A.P. and SANDERS, I.S. 2002. Ferromagnetism of a graphite nodule from the Canyon Diablo meteorite. Nature 420, 156-159

SANDERS, I.S. 2005. Probing the depths – the evidence for the Earth’s crust, mantle and core. Geographical Viewpoint 33, 11-18.

SANDERS, I.S. and TAYLOR, G.J. 2005  Implications of 26Al in nebular dust: the formation of chondrules by the disruption of molten planetesimals.  In Chondrites and the protoplanetary disk, (A.N. Krot, E.R.D. Scott and B. Reipurth, eds) Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, vol 341, 915-932.

HEVEY, P.J. and SANDERS, I.S.    2006 A model for planetesimal meltdown by 26Al, and its implications for meteorite parent bodies.  Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences 41, 95-106.

BRIDGES, J., GILMOUR, J. and SANDERS, I. 2008.  New ideas on the early Solar System. Astronomy and Geophysics 49, 1.28-1.30.

MURPHY, T., JACOB, A. W. B. and SANDERS, I. S. 2009. Geophysical evidence onshore.  In The geology of Ireland, Second edition (edited by C.H. Holland and I.S. Sanders). Edinburgh.  Dunedin Academic Press.  461-470.
SCOTT, E. R. D. and SANDERS, I. S. 2009. Implications of the carbonaceous chondrite Mn-Cr isochron for the formation of early refractory planetesimals and chondrules. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73, 5137-5149.

SCOTT, E. R. D., GREENWOOD, R. C., FRANCHI, I. A.,and SANDERS, I. S.  2009.  Oxygen isotopic constraints on the origin and parent bodies of eucrites, diogenites and howardites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73, 5835-5853.


SANDERS, I. S. 2007. Six common kinds of rock from Ireland. Department of Geology, Trinity College Dublin. ISBN 0 9521066 63.  48pp.

HOLLAND, C. H. and SANDERS, I. S. 2009. The geology of IrelandSecond edition. Edinburgh. Dunedin Academic Press. 568 pp.