Peter Robinson began his geological training at Dartmouth College. He took a masters degree working on the Otago schist at the University of Otago, New Zealand, under D.S. Coombs. As a doctoral candidate at Harvard University in 1959 under M.P. Billings and J.B. Thompson, Jr., he began detailed mapping in the central New England Appalachians, where his work has centered ever since. His emphasis and that of many of his students has been on the detailed tracing of well defined stratigraphic units, on extensive measurements of minor structural features as a key to regional geometry and kinematics, and on detailed petrography, petrology and geochemistry to understand sedimentary and igneous protoliths and to understand their metamorphic evolution.
The central New England region appears to lie on a tectonic plate, as yet ill defined, that collided with Laurentia to produce the Ordovician Taconian orogeny, was impinged on by Avalon to produce the Devonian Acadian orogeny, and then was further activated during the late Paleozoic Alleghanian orogeny. A major task has been to characterize the sedimentary and volcanic sequences, the intrusive igneous rocks and the metamorphisms associated with these events, in the last several years aided by the detailed geochronologic work of R.D. Tucker and L.P. Gromet. Although locally as low as the greenschist facies, the bulk of the metamorphic rocks range from the amphibolite facies to the pyroxene granulite facies, which in south-central Massachusetts, in Silurian-Devonian rocks, represents the most intense regional metamorphism known in the Appalachians.
Long experience in central New England led to his participation as a compiler for the U.S. Geological Survey on the Bedrock Geologic Map of Massachusetts (Zen et al., 1983) and to participation in the IGCP Caledonide project. Through the latter, he became interested in tracing Caledonide cover nappes into regions of western Norway, where they are deeply infolded in Baltic basement that has been metamorphosed to the eclogite facies. A field project initiated in a half-year sabbatical in 1990 continued into another half year in 1993, supported in part by the Norwegian Geological Survey's Alesund 1/250,00 map sheet and a grant through Lund University in Sweden. This represents an unusual opportunity to observe what goes on in the depths of a continental collision that was taking place at the about the same time and on the same plate boundary as the Acadian events in New England.
Peterson, V.L., and Robinson, P. (1993) Progressive evolution from uplift to orogen-parallel transport in a late-Acadian, upper amphibolite-to granulite-facies shear zone, south-central Massachusetts. Tectonics, 12, 550-567.
Robinson, P., Tucker, R.D., Gromet, L.P., Ashenden, D.D., Williams, M.L., Reed, R., and Peterson, V.L. (1992) The Pelham dome, central Massachusetts: Stratigraphy, geochronology, structure and metamorphism. In Robinson, P. and Brady, J.B. (Eds.), Guidebook for Field Trips in the Connecticut Valley Region of Massachusetts and Adjacent States. 84th Annual Meeting of the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference, Amherst, Massachusetts, pp. 132-169.
Robinson, P., Thompson, P. J., and Elbert, D. C. (1991) The nappe theory in the Connecticut Valley region: Thirty-five years since Jim Thompson's first proposal. American Mineralogist, 76, 689-712.
Robinson, P. (1991) Comparative hinterland tectonics of the Acadian orogen, southern New England and the Scandian orogen, central Norway. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 23, p. 119.
Robinson, P., and Krill, A.G. (1991) Extension of Trollheim tectono-stratigraphy and evidence for late Scandian sinistral shear in the Molde and Brattvåg areas, western gneiss region. Terra Nova, 3, p. 26.
Robinson, P. (1991) The eye of the petrographer, the mind of the petrologist. (Presidential Address, Mineralogical Society of America). American Mineralogist, 6, 1781-1810.