Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Mike Wise


The global exploitation of granitic pegmatites (exceptionally coarse to gigantic-grained igneous rocks) as major sources of industrial, technological and gemological materials, require that we have a strong understanding of the processes that generate them. Pegmatites are important sources of rare-elements, and when present in economic quantities, these elements may be extracted for use in a wide range of technological applications, such as lightweight alloys, nuclear engineering and electronics (beryllium); ceramics, pharmaceutical products, lubricants, and lithium-batteries (lithium); electronic capacitors, jet engines and prosthetic devices (tantalum); magneto hydrodynamic electric generators, biological and medical research (cesium); and integrated circuits and light-emitting laser diodes (gallium). The industrial minerals, feldspar and quartz, are extracted from pegmatite deposits for use by the glass and ceramic industries, while mica is used in construction materials, cosmetics, paints and insulation. Some of the world's best-known gem materials (e.g., aquamarine, emerald, sapphire, topaz, and tourmaline) are obtained from pegmatite deposits.

Pegmatite research in the Department of Mineral Sciences focuses on three broad, but closely linked disciplines, which are the basic research components necessary for a full understanding of the pegmatite-generating process.

  1. Crystal chemistry and crystal structures of pegmatite minerals

    Basic mineralogical studies carried out on major and accessory pegmatite minerals include: the solution and refinement of crystal structures, investigation of structural states (e.g. order-disorder) in minerals, and the effects of "pegmatophile" elements (e.g. Rb, Cs, Li, B) on mineral structures.

  2. Petrology and geochemistry of pegmatites 

    Petrographic study of pegmatite textures is fundamental to understanding the nucleation and growth of giant crystals. Multi-generations of tourmalines, feldspars, micas, garnets, and Nb-Ta oxide minerals are typical of many chemically evolved pegmatites and the minor and trace element signatures of these minerals help to decipher changes in melt and fluid composition during pegmatite consolidation.

  3. Evolution of granite-pegmatite systems 

    Field-based studies of the internal zoning of individual pegmatites, the regional zonation of granite-pegmatite systems and the global relationship between pegmatites and broad geologic and tectonic settings helps provide a better understanding of the processes responsible for pegmatite generation and can provide important information on the chemical evolution of the earth's crust.

Department / Division
  • Ph.D. University of Manitoba (1987)
Research Interests


  • Defnet, Peter A., Wise, Michael A., Harmon, Russell S., Hark, Richard R., and Hilferding, Keith. 2021. "Analysis of Garnet by Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy-Two Practical Applications." Minerals, 11, (7).
  • Wise, Michael A. 2019. "The Petrologic Significance of Epidote in Granitic Pegmatites." The Canadian Mineralogist, 57, (5) 817–819.
  • Wise, Michael A. and Brown, Cathleen D. 2019. "Cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopy – a technique for understanding the dynamics of pegmatite crystallization." The Canadian Mineralogist, 57, (5) 821–823.
  • Hawthorne, Frank C., Wise, Michael A., Cerný, Petr, Abdu, Yassir A., Ball, Neil A., Pieczka, Adam, and Wlodek, Adam. 2018. "Beusite-(Ca), ideally CaMn22 (PO4)2, a new graftonite-group mineral from the Yellowknife pegmatite field, Northwest Territories, Canada: Description and crystal structure." Mineralogical Magazine, 82, (6) 1323–1332.
  • Harmon, Russell S., Hark, Richard R., Throckmorton, Chandra S., Rankey, Eugene C., Wise, Michael A., Somers, Andrew M., and Collins, Leslie M. 2017. "Geochemical Fingerprinting by Handheld Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)." Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 41, (4) 563–584.
  • Heimann, Adriana, Yonts, Jason A., and Wise, Michael A. 2016. "Melt evolution in felsic dikes inferred from the composition of gahnite in two new occurrences, Pala Chief and Elizabeth R composite dikes, California." Mineralogy and Petrology, 110, (6) 731–746.
  • Jaszczak, John A., Rumsey, Michael S., Bindi, Luca, Hackney, Stephen A., Wise, Michael A., Stanley, Chris J., and Spratt, John. 2016. "Merelaniite, Mo4Pb4VSbS15, a New Molybdenum-Essential Member of the Cylindrite Group, from the Merelani Tanzanite Deposit, Lelatema Mountains, Manyara Region, Tanzania." Minerals, 6, (4) 115.
  • Harrison, Simon, Jaszczak, John, Keim, Mike, Rumsey, Mike, and Wise, Michael A. 2014. "Spectacular Sulfides from the Merelani Tanzanite Deposit, Lelatema Mountains, Arusha Region, Tanzania." Mineralogical Record, 45, (5) 553–570.
  • Hark, Richard R., Remus, Jeremiah J., East, Lucille J., Harmon, Russell S., Wise, Michael A., Tansi, Benjamin M., Shughrue, Katrina M., Dunsin, Kehinde S., and Liu, Chunyi. 2012. "Geographical analysis of 'conflict minerals' utilizing laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy." Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, 74-75 131–136.
  • Wise, Michael A., Francis, Carl A., and Cerný, Petr. 2012. "Compositional and Structural Variations in Columbite-Group Minerals from Granitic Pegmatites of the Brunswick and Oxford Fields, Maine: Differential Trends in F-Poor and F-Rich Environments." The Canadian Mineralogist, 50, (6) 1515–1530.
  • Harmon, Russell S., Shughrue, Katrina M., Remus, Jeremiah J., Wise, Michael A., East, Lucille J., and Hark, Richard R. 2011. "Can the provenance of the conflict minerals columbite and tantalite be ascertained by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy?" Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 400, (10) 3377–3382.
  • Wise, Michael A. and Brown, Cathleen D. 2011. "Chemical composition of coexisting columbite-group minerals and cassiterite from the Black Mountain pegmatite, Maine." European Journal of Mineralogy, 23, (5) 817–828.
  • Alvey, Daniel C., Morton, Kenneth, Harmon, Russell S., Gottfried, Jennifer L., Remus, Jeremiah J., Collins, Leslie M., and Wise, Michael A. 2010. "Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy-based geochemical fingerprinting for the rapid analysis and discrimination of minerals: the example of garnet." Applied Optics, 49, (13) C168–C180.
  • Wise, Michael A. and Brown, Cathleen D. 2010. "Mineral chemistry, petrology and geochemistry of the Sebago granite-pegmatite system, southern Maine, USA." Journal of Geosciences, 55, (1) 3–26.
  • Wise, Michael A. 2009. "Chabazite in spodumene-bearing Alpine-type fissure veins from Hiddenite, North Carolina, USA." Mineralogy and Petrology, 96, (3-4) 213–220.
  • Wise, Michael A. 2007. "Crystallization of 'pocket' berthierine from the pulsifer granitic pegmatite, poland, maine, usa." Clays and Clay Minerals, 55, (6) 583–592.
  • Cerny, P., Ercit, T. S., Wise, Michael A., Chapman, R., and Buck, H. M. 1998. "Compositional, structural, and phase relationships in titanian ixiolite and titanian columbite-tantalite." Canadian Mineralogist, 36 547–561.
  • Dyar, M. D., Taylor, M. E., Lutz, T. M., Francis, C. A., Guidotti, C. V., and Wise, Michael A. 1998. "Inclusive chemical characterization of tourmaline: Mössbauer study of Fe valence and site occupancy." American Mineralogist, 83 848–864.
  • Post, Jeffrey E., Wise, Michael A., Feather, R. C., and Pohwat, Paul W. 1998. "The Smithsonian Institution's new hall of geology, gems, and minerals." Rocks and Minerals, 73 44–51.
  • Smeds, S-A, Uher, P., Cerny, P., Wise, Michael A., Gustafsson, L., and Penner, P. 1998. "Graftonite-beusite in Sweden: primary phases, products of exsolution, and distribution in zoned populations of granitic pegmatites." Canadian Mineralogist, 36 377–394.
  • Wise, Michael A., Cerny, P., and Falster, A. U. 1998. "Scandium substitution in columbite group minerals and ixiolite." Canadian Mineralogist, 36 673–680.
  • Rose, Timothy R., Wise, Michael A., and Brown, C. D. 1997. "Renewed mining at the western quarries of Mount Apatite, Maine." Rocks and Minerals, 72 44–48.
  • Wise, Michael A. and Cern, P. 1996. "The crystal chemistry of the tapiolite series." Canadian Mineralogist, 34 631–647.
  • Wise, Michael A. 1995. "Topaz - a mineralogical review." Rocks and Minerals, 70 16–25.
  • Tomascak, P. B., Wise, Michael A., Cern, P., and Trueman, D. L. 1994. "Reconnaissance studies of four pegmatite populations in the Northwest Territories." In Studies of rare-metal deposits in the Northwest Territories. Bulletin -Geological Survey of Canada, Report. 33–62.
  • Wise, Michael A., Rose, Timothy R., and Holden, R. E., J. 1994. "Mineralogy of the Bennett Pegmatite Oxford County, Maine." Mineralogical Record, 25 175–184.
  • Wise, Michael A. and Cerny, P. 1990. "Beusite-triphylite intergrowths from the Yellowknife Pegmatite Field, Northwest Territories." Canadian Mineralogist, 28 133–139.
  • Wise, Michael A., Hawthorne, F. C., and Cerny, P. 1990. "Crystal Structure of a Ca-rich Beusite from the Yellowknife Pegmatite Field, Northwest Territories." Canadian Mineralogist, 28 141–146.
  • Cerny, P., Chapman, R., God, R., Niedermayr, G., and Wise, Michael A. 1989. "Exsolution Intergrowths of Titanian Ferrocolumbite and Niobian Rutile from the Weinebene Spodumene Pegmatites, Carinthia, Austria." Mineralogy and Petrology, 40 197–206.
  • Cerny, P., Tomascak, P., and Wise, Michael A. 1989. "Pegmatite Studies in the Aylmer Lake Area, Northwest Territories." In Geology Division, Indian Affairs and Northern Development Report EGS. 14.
  • Cerny, P., Wise, Michael A., and Tomascak, P. 1989. "Reconnaissance of M1, M2 and Qulik 1 Claims, Chantrey Inlet, N.W.T." In Geology Division, Indian Affairs and Northern Development Report EGS. 16.
  • Wise, Michael A. and Cerny, P. 1988. "Pegmatite Deposits of the Northwest Territories: Aylmer Lake-Mackay Lake and Chantrey Inlet Pegmatite Fields." In Exploration Overview, N.W.T.. 62.

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