PhD Geology, high honors, May 2023 
Graduate Student Research Assistant
Richard M. Palin, advisor (now Associate Professor at University of Oxford, UK)
Colorado School of Mines
Lunar mantle evolution and volcanism

MS Geology, high honors, 2018
Graduate Student Teaching Assistant

Richard F. Wendlandt, advisor (now Emeritus Faculty)
Colorado School of Mines
Crystal size distributions and crystallization kinetics of the Laki fissure eruptions, Iceland

AS Mathematics, highest honors, 2012
Northern Virginia Community College

BS Geology, highest honors, 2010
George Mason University

Academic ContributioNs and Publications


Cone, K., 2021. ApolloBasalt DB_V2, Version Version 1.0. Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance (IEDA).

Hernández-Uribe, D., Palin, R.M., Cone, K.A., Cao, W. 2020.
Petrological implications of seafloor hydrothermal alteration on subducted mid-ocean ridge basalt.  Journal of Petrology.

Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M., Singha, K. 2020.
Unsupervised Machine Learning with petrological database ApolloBasaltDB reveals complexity in lunar basalt major element oxide and mineral distribution patterns. Icarus.

Cone, K.A., Wendlandt, R.F., Pfaff, K., Orlandini, O. 2020.
Texture constraints on crystal size distributions: An application to the Laki fissure eruption. American Mineralogist.

Hernández-Uribe, D., Hernández-Montenegro, J., Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M. 2020. 
Oceanic slab-top melting during subduction: Implications for trace-element recycling and adakite petrogenesis. Geology 

Abstracts, Presentations, Invited talks

Cone, K.A., Elardo, S.M., Palin, R.M., D., Bohrson, W.A., Spera, F., Bohrson, W.A., Astudillo Manosalva, D.F. Modeling the Compositional Evolution of the Moon’s Crust from Lunar Magma Ocean Differentiation. AGU Fall Meeting, Chicago, USA, 2022. Poster and Presentation.

Cone, K.A., Elardo, S.M., Palin, R.M., D., Bohrson, W.A., Spera, F., Bohrson, W.A., Astudillo Manosalva, D.F. Reconciling the Lunar Primitive Upper Mantle composition with crystallization models:  Why Do Lunar Magma Ocean Cooling Models Struggle to Reproduce a GRAIL-Era Crustal Thickness? GSA Annual Meeting, Denver, USA, 2022. Presentation.

Elardo, S.M., Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M. Insights into the Mantle Source of the Chang’E-5 Lunar Basalts from Experiments and Modeling. Goldschmidt, Hawaii, USA, 2022. Abstract #12649. Lead-author presentation.

Cone, K.A., Elardo, S.M., Hernández-Uribe, D., Bohrson, W.A., Astudillo Manosalva, D.F., Distel, A.G., … Crystallization of the Lunar Magma Ocean and Consequences for a Cumulate Mantle Overturn. LPSC 53, Houston, TX. Abstract #2120 (2022). Presentation.

Elardo, S.M., Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M. Insights into the Mantle Source of the Chang’E-5 Basalts from Experiments and Modelling. LPSC 53, Houston, TX. Abstract #2501 (2022). Lead-author presentation.

Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M., Singha, K. Machine Learning Approaches in Lunar Mantle Heterogeneity Investigations. AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 2020. Talk and poster (eLightning Session).

Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M., Singha, K. Revealing the Hidden Structure of the Lunar Interior: Insights from Machine Learning. GSA Annual Meeting, Montréal, Canada, 2020. Invited speaker.

Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M., Singha, K. Lunar Mantle Heterogeneity and the Apollo Mare Basalts: Examples from ApolloBasaltDB. GSA Annual Meeting, Phoenix, USA, 2019. Presentation.

Cone, K.A., Wendlandt, R.F., Pfaff, K., Orlandini, O. Textural Constraints and Imaging Techniques: Bias in Extracting Crystal Size Distributions. GSA Annual Meeting, Phoenix, USA, 2019. Requested presentation.

Cone, K.A., Diecchio, R.J. Geological Development of North America. GSA Annual Meeting, Phoenix, USA, 2019. Poster.

Cone, K.A., Palin, R.M. Construction of a petrological database for lunar mare basalts. 7th Annual Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, USA, 2019. Poster.

Cone, K.A., Krekeler, M.P.S., Diecchio, R.J., Kearns, L.E. Investigation of phosphatic sediment diagenesis of the Reedsville Formation, W. Virginia. GSA Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, USA, 2006. Poster.


Lunar science, early lunar thermal regimes, the geochemical and structural evolution of lunar magma ocean cooling, volcanology, quantitative igneous textural analysis (crystal size distributions), and machine learning for geochemistry/petrology. Primary interests focus on thermodynamic and thermal models of lunar magma ocean evolution and related temporal changes in petrologic structure, density, and geochemical profiles.


—  I model the solidification of the lunar magma ocean using phase equilibria and density constrasts between solid phases and their melts, considering different convection scenarios and cooling regimes. 

— The lunar nearside contains geochemical and mineralogical signatures reflecting heterogeneous mare basalt sources. I examine correlations among these surface signatures to interpret potential interior processes. To address this, I use machine learning (among other methods) as an investigative tool for re-evaluating lunar mantle heterogeneity.

—  I maintain a database of lunar basalt characteristics (ApolloBasaltDB, freely available for download in the top menu) used for both machine learning and thermodynamic modelling. Version 2.0 is the current release. Version 3.0 is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2023. The goal of the database is to provide an organized collection of lunar sample traits other than just geochemical, to be used with tailored ML algorithms.


Student session chair, AGU Study of Earth’s Deep Interior (DI) mentorship program, 2022

Reviewer for Icarus
Reviewer for Earth Science, Systems and SocietyReviewer, Journal of Geophysical Research
Reviewer, Geoscience Frontiers

Judge, Undergraduate Research Symposium, CSM

Member, Diversity Inclusion and Access Committee, CSM

Co-creator and member, Graduate Student Seminar Series, CSM

Participant, Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Participant, SAFEZone Training 2020

Judge, AGU Fall Meeting Outstanding Student Presentation Awards 2020

Participant, Facilitating Remote and Online Learning, CSM, 2020

Participant, Suicide Prevention Training, CSM, 2019

President, Geo Club, George Mason University 2008


IIE-GIRE Research Fellow, University of Oxford
I worked under Dr. Richard Palin and other UK researchers to develop a novel approach for lunar magma ocean cooling models using more realistic thermodynamic and heat flux constraints that reflected the conditions that existed shortly after the Moon-forming impact.

Visiting PhD Student, The Florida Planets Lab, University of Florida
I joined the Florida Planets Lab under planetary scientist Dr. Stephen Elardo for the Fall 2021 semester.  I acquired hands-on practice with the piston cylinder apparatus and refined my understanding of cosmochemistry and lunar magma ocean processes. A joint publication will be submitted at the end of 2022—funded by a GSA Graduate Student Research Grant and an IIE-GIRE fellowship—involving the Colorado School of Mines, The University of Oxford, the University of Florida, and the University of California at Santa Barbara.  

MS Graduate Teaching Assistant, Colorado School of Mines
My MS research focused on developing a protocol for the quantitative textural analysis of basaltic lavas from the 1783-1784 Laki, Iceland eruptions. The work was uniquely complemented with element and crystal size population data of plagioclase using scanning electron microscopy. The research culminated in a novel methods-focused publication in American Mineralogist, 2020.

Pre-doctoral Intern, Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory
My primary work consisted of diamond-anvil cell and Raman spectroscopy analysis on the high pressure-temperature carbon speciation of paraformaldehyde. My secondary work involved collaboration on a NASA Astrobiology Institute project, led by Dr. Robert Hazen, on prebiotic molecular selection and organization (, conducting racemic sugar adsorption experiments on mineral surfaces.

Undergraduate Researcher, George Mason University
My worked involved scanning electron microscopy imaging and petrography of Appalachian phosphatic sediments to unravel diagenesis histories, completed at James Madison and George Mason Universities

Undergraduate Lab Assistant, George Mason University
I was a lab assistant to EPA STAR Fellowship recipient investigating  the environmental effects of iron in sequestering phosphorus in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. I manually segmented soft-sediment cores using a nitrogen glove bag and then processed the segments using a SEDEX procedure.