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BurnMan - a thermoelastic and thermodynamic toolkit for Earth and planetary sciences


BurnMan is a Python library for generating thermodynamic and thermoelastic models of planetary interiors.

It began as a working-group at the 2012 CIDER workshop in Santa Barbara.

BurnMan is released under the GNU GPL v2 or newer



Source code:


Authors (as of 2015, listed alphabetically by first name):

  • Bob Myhill
  • Cayman Unterborn
  • Ian Rose
  • Sanne Cottaar
  • Timo Heister


  • Python 2.7.x or Python 3.4+
  • Python modules: NumPy, SciPy, Matplotlib

Install under Ubuntu

  1. Clone this repository using git (or download it). To install git, open a terminal window and type

    sudo apt-get install git

    Then go to the directory into which you want to clone the repository, and type

    git clone

    Alternatively, if you don't want to use git, you can download the current master branch from

  2. Install using apt by opening a terminal window and entering sudo apt-get install python python-scipy python-numpy python-sympy python-matplotlib

  3. Go to the Burnman examples directory and type: python Figures should show up, indicating that it is working.

Install on a Mac

  1. Clone this repository using git (or download it). To install git, open a terminal window and type

    ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

    brew doctor

    brew install git

    Then go to the directory into which you want to clone the repository, and type

    git clone

    Alternatively, if you don't want to use git, you can download the current master branch from

  2. get Xcode

  3. If you don't have Python yet, download it (for free) from . Make sure to use either Python 2.7 or Python 3.4+. To check your version of python, type the following in a terminal: python --version

  4. Install the latest Numpy version:

  5. Install the latest Scipy at

  6. Install the latest Scipy at

  7. Install the latest Matplotlib from

  8. Go to the Burnman examples directory and type: python Figures should show up, indicating that it is working.

Problems you might run into:

  • Installing numpy/scipy/sympy/matplotlib for a different python version than the one on your computer

  • Having matplotlib for 32-bit instead of 64-bit (for me this got fixed by installing the very latest version). This will give you the error no matching architecture in universal wrapper. You can check if your python distribution is 32 or 64 bit with the following lines:

>>> import platform
>>> print platform.architecture()

Install under Windows

  1. Clone this repository using git (or download it). git can be downloaded from here: There are a number of different ways to use git as installed under windows (command-line, gui). Use your favoured method to clone the burnman repository: Alternatively, if you don't want to use git, you can download the current master branch from

To get Python 2.7.x (for example) running under Windows:

  1. Download Python from and install the version at C:\Python27; the 32-bit version is recommended
  2. Go to, download "numpy-MKL-1.6.2.win32-py2.7.exe" and install
  3. Go to, download "scipy-0.10.1.win32-py2.7.exe" and install
  4. Go to, download "matplotlib-1.1.1.win32-py2.7.exe" and install
  5. Open Python Shell (IDLE Python GUI)
  6. File -- Open -- find one of the example files
  7. Run the module (or press F5)

Start Here

To begin, the user may want to look at these examples to begin to understand what tools are available in BurnMan and how values are calculated. Below is a suggested order of examples that begin by introducing each of the user inputs possible as well as each of the helpers involved with each example.

  1. (Creating a composite and computing seismic properties)
  2. (Demonstrates built in geotherms and how to create your own).
  3. (Explains the various seismic models included in BurnMan)
  4. (Explains how to create different mineralogical models)
  5. (Explains how to create user-defined minerals)
  6. (Explains how moduli and density are averaged to calculate seismic velocities)

About scripting in Python

Burnman has the advantage of being adaptable and extendable in easy scripts. The downside might be that we do not provide a graphical user interface. For those of you who are not familiar with python, we suspect it will still be relatively easy to adapt the scripts for computations and plotting. Here are some specific features and pitfalls on Python:

  • Python uses specific indentation. A script might fail if a code block is not indented correctly. We use four spaces and no tabs, mixing these can give trouble.
  • Indices require square brackets and function or method calls parentheses (mainly different from Matlab).
  • The first index of an array is 0 (e.g. x[0])
  • Put dots after numbers to make them floats instead of integers (e.g. 5/3 will give 1 (Python 2.x rounds downward), while 5./3. will give 1.66666666667)



This example script is intended for absolute beginners to BurnMan. We cover importing BurnMan modules, creating a composite material, and calculating its seismic properties at lower mantle pressures and temperatures. Afterwards, we plot it against a 1D seismic model for visual comparison.


  • :doc:mineral_database
  • :class:burnman.composite.Composite
  • :class:burnman.seismic.PREM
  • :func:burnman.geotherm.brown_shankland
  • :func:burnman.material.Material.evaluate


  • creating basic composites
  • calculating thermoelastic properties
  • seismic comparison


This example shows each of the geotherms currently possible with BurnMan. These are:

  1. Brown and Shankland, 1981 :cite:Brown1981
  2. Anderson, 1982 :cite:anderson1982earth
  3. Watson and Baxter, 2007 :cite:Watson2007
  4. linear extrapolation
  5. Read in from file from user
  6. Adiabatic from potential temperature and choice of mineral


  • :func:burnman.geotherm.brown_shankland
  • :func:burnman.geotherm.anderson
  • input geotherm file input_geotherm/example_geotherm.txt (optional)
  • :class:burnman.composite.Composite for adiabat


  • the available geotherms


Shows the various ways to input seismic models (:math:V_s, V_p, V_{\phi}, \rho) as a function of depth (or pressure) as well as different velocity model libraries available within Burnman:

  1. PREM :cite:dziewonski1981
  2. STW105 :cite:kustowski2008
  3. AK135 :cite:kennett1995
  4. IASP91 :cite:kennett1991

This example will first calculate or read in a seismic model and plot the model along the defined pressure range. The example also illustrates how to import a seismic model of your choice, here shown by importing AK135 :cite:kennett1995.


  • :doc:seismic


  • Utilization of library seismic models within BurnMan
  • Input of user-defined seismic models


This example shows how to create different minerals, how to compute seismic velocities, and how to compare them to a seismic reference model.

There are many different ways in BurnMan to combine minerals into a composition. Here we present a couple of examples:

  1. Two minerals mixed in simple mole fractions. Can be chosen from the BurnMan libraries or from user defined minerals (see example_user_input_material)
  2. Example with three minerals
  3. Using preset solid solutions
  4. Defining your own solid solution

To turn a method of mineral creation "on" the first if statement above the method must be set to True, with all others set to False.

Note: These minerals can include a spin transition in (Mg,Fe)O, see for explanation of how to implement this


  • :doc:mineral_database
  • :class:burnman.composite.Composite
  • :class:burnman.mineral.Mineral
  • :class:burnman.solidsolution.SolidSolution


  • Different ways to define a composite
  • Using minerals and solid solutions
  • Compare computations to seismic models


Shows user how to input a mineral of his/her choice without usint the library and which physical values need to be input for BurnMan to calculate :math:V_P, V_\Phi, V_S and density at depth.

Specifically uses:

  • :class:burnman.mineral.Mineral


  • how to create your own minerals


This example shows the effect of different averaging schemes. Currently four averaging schemes are available:

  1. Voight-Reuss-Hill
  2. Voight averaging
  3. Reuss averaging
  4. Hashin-Shtrikman averaging

See :cite:Watt1976 Journal of Geophysics and Space Physics for explanations of each averaging scheme.

Specifically uses:

  • :class:burnman.averaging_schemes.VoigtReussHill
  • :class:burnman.averaging_schemes.Voigt
  • :class:burnman.averaging_schemes.Reuss
  • :class:burnman.averaging_schemes.HashinShtrikmanUpper
  • :class:burnman.averaging_schemes.HashinShtrikmanLower


  • implemented averaging schemes


This example explains how to perform the basic i/o of BurnMan. A method of calculation is chosen, a composite mineral/material (see for explanation of this process) is created in the class "rock," finally a geotherm is created and seismic velocities calculated.

Post-calculation, the results are written to a simple text file to plot/manipulate at the user's whim.


  • creating minerals
  • compute seismic velocities
  • geotherms


  • output computed seismic data to file


This example demonstrates how to call each of the individual calculation methodologies that exist within BurnMan. See below for current options. This example calculates seismic velocity profiles for the same set of minerals and a plot of :math:V_s, V_\phi and :math:\rho is produce for the user to compare each of the different methods.

Specifically uses:

  • :doc:eos


  • Each method for calculating velocity profiles currently included within BurnMan


Vary the amount perovskite vs. ferropericlase and compute the error in the seismic data against PREM. For more extensive comments on this setup, see tutorial/


  • :doc:mineral_database
  • :class:burnman.composite.Composite
  • :class:burnman.seismic.PREM
  • :func:burnman.geotherm.brown_shankland
  • :func:burnman.material.Material.evaluate
  • :func:burnman.main.compare_l2


  • compare errors between models
  • loops over models


This example demonstrates BurnMan's functionality to fit thermoelastic data to both 2nd and 3rd orders using the EoS of the user's choice at 300 K. User's must create a file with :math:P, T and :math:V_s. See input_minphys/ for example input files.


  • compute seismic velocities


  • averaging


This example shows how to evaluate seismic quantities on a :math:P,T grid.


This example shows how to use the chemical potentials library of functions.


  • How to calculate chemical potentials
  • How to compute fugacities and relative fugacities


This example shows how to create different solid solution models and output thermodynamic and thermoelastic quantities.

There are four main types of solid solution currently implemented in BurnMan:

  1. Ideal solid solutions
  2. Symmmetric solid solutions
  3. Asymmetric solid solutions
  4. Subregular solid solutions

These solid solutions can potentially deal with:

  • Disordered endmembers (more than one element on a crystallographic site)
  • Site vacancies
  • More than one valence/spin state of the same element on a site


  • :doc:mineral_database
  • :class:burnman.solidsolution.SolidSolution
  • :class:burnman.solutionmodel.SolutionModel


  • Different ways to define a solid solution
  • How to set composition and state
  • How to output thermodynamic and thermoelastic properties


For Earth we have well-constrained one-dimensional density models. This allows us to calculate pressure as a funcion of depth. Furthermore, petrologic data and assumptions regarding the convective state of the planet allow us to estimate the temperature.

For planets other than Earth we have much less information, and in particular we know almost nothing about the pressure and temperature in the interior. Instead, we tend to have measurements of things like mass, radius, and moment-of-inertia. We would like to be able to make a model of the planet's interior that is consistent with those measurements.

However, there is a difficulty with this. In order to know the density of the planetary material, we need to know the pressure and temperature. In order to know the pressure, we need to know the gravity profile. And in order to the the gravity profile, we need to know the density. This is a nonlinear problem which requires us to iterate to find a self-consistent solution.

Here we show an example that does this, using the planet Mercury as motivation.


  • :doc:mineral_database
  • :class:burnman.composite.Composite
  • :func:burnman.material.Material.evaluate


BurnMan is a library for modeling mantle thermodynamics and thermoelasticity constrained by mineral physics experiments.




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