Theoretical background: a list of favourites

A user may be interested in various aspects of geological phase equilibrium studies:

  1. How to express the thermodynamic properties of a phase: equations of state and activity-composition relations.
  2. The theoretical underpinnings of phase equilibrium.
  3. Geological phase relations.
  4. Relating theoretical phase diagrams and phase equilibrium calculations to geological observations.
  5. How to calculate geological phase equilibria and phase diagrams.

Here we list a small selection of our favourite resources for learning more about this subject. Numbers given in square brackets help to classify the information available in terms of the categories above.


  • SERC (the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College) provides a Teaching Phase Equilibria website which is a good place to start. [3, 4, 5]
  • The Perple_X web-based documentation contains a variety of helpful learning material. Some of this relates specifically relating to the use of Perple_X, while other parts are more general. [1, 2, 4, 5]
  • At present, our former website hosted by the University of Mainz is still available, though it is no longer updated. This contains extensive teaching resources. Some of this information relates specifically to using THERMOCALC, and may be out of date – see our new THERMOCALC section for current documentation on the program. [4, 5]

Text books

  • Herbert B Callen (1960, 1985). Thermodynamics and an introduction to thermostatistics. John Wiley & Sons, New York. ISBN 978-0471862567. [1, 2]
  • Svein Stølen & Tor Grande (2004). Chemical thermodynamics of materials: macroscopic and microscopic aspects. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. ISBN 978-0471492436. [1, 2]
  • Arthur D Pelton (2019). Phase diagrams and thermodynamic modelling of solutions. Elsevier, Amsterdam. ISBN 978-0128014943. [1, 2]
  • Greg M Anderson & David A Crerar (1993). Thermodynamics in geochemistry: the equilibrium model. Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN 978-0195064643. [1, 2, 4]
  • Alberto Patiño Douce (2011). Thermodynamics of the Earth and planets. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 978-0521896214. [1, 2, 4 – a broad and rich look at Earth Science through a thermodynamic lens]
  • John D Winter (2009). Principles of igneous and metamorphic geology. Pearson, Harlow. ISBN 978-1292021539. [3, 4]
  • R H Vernon & G L Clarke (2008). Principles of metamorphic petrology. Cambridge University Press, New York. ISBN 978-0521871785. [3, 4]
  • Roger Powell (1978). Equilibrium thermodynamics in petrology. Harper & Row, London. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. This book can be downloaded free for personal use (15 MB).

Feel free to contact us with suggested additions!