PLATE TECTONIC AND DEFORMATION PROCESS
Research is focused on understanding the mechanics, thermal history, fluid flow, structural history, seismicity, crustal/mantle structure, and landscape evolution associated with plate boundaries and plate interiors. Our studies are inherently multidisciplinary, with integration of observations that characterize deformation at a range of temporal and spatial scales relevant to both the earthquake cycle and the long-term motions of plates.
Plate Tectonics is the framework upon which much of modern Earth Sciences is based. Our research focuses on providing both an understanding of the key plate tectonic processes, but also applying that understanding to specific regions and tectonic events. Working across spatial scales we are involved in defining the processes and consequences of plate tectonics that produce our tectonic landscape.
Penn State faculty have ongoing research along active plate boundaries and within plate interiors around the world including:
DEFORMATION KINEMATICS AND DYNAMICS
Penn State has a group of faculty (Fisher, Furlong) who use field observations of structures to evaluate the kinematics and dynamics of rock deformation in mountain belts, along plate boundaries, and within sedimentary basins.
One area of study, based in fracture mechanics, involves characterization of the orientation, distribution, and morphology of fractures, and the relationship between fractures and the earth's stress field. We also use field observations to determine the kinematics, slip rates, and seismic potential of regional faults.
Finally, our group uses field studies of structures, strain histories, deformation fabrics, and the GPS velocity field to evaluate the kinematics, deformation mechanisms, and rheology in subduction zones and collisional mountain belts.
WHO WE ARE
Learn more about our faculty and research groups:
Charles J. Ammon is an earthquake seismologist who investigates earthquake processes and Earth’s Interior using seismic, gravity, and geodetic observations. He and his students focus on large earthquake rupture processes, earthquake locations in remote regions (e.g. mid-ocean ridge systems); imaging Earth’s crust and upper mantle using body and surface waves; imaging the shallow crust using seismic ambient ground motions; analysis of small non-earthquake-generated seismic sources (explosions, blasts, mine tremors and collapses, etc.).
Erin DiMaggio studies the geology of human origins in Africa. Her work is focused in eastern Africa where she uses tephrochronology, stratigraphy, and geologic mapping techniques to establish the timeline for early human origins, interpret paleolandscapes through time, and study extensional faulting and basin development related to triple junction tectonics.
Kevin Furlong works in lithospheric geodynamics - the modern version of Plate Tectonics - and his focus is on processes at active plate boundaries. In particular he investigates deformational, thermal, and earthquake processes that form and define plate boundaries. His research involves some of the major plate boundaries globally, including in New Zealand, Asia and western North America.
Andy Nyblade is an observational earthquake seismologist. His primary research focus is in using seismic and other geophysical methods to address problems in continental tectonics (rifting, volcanism, plateau uplift, mountain building, basin formation), as well as in the structure, composition and evolution of continental crust and upper mantle. He also uses geophysical methods to investigate the structure of the Critical Zone. He has worked extensively in Africa and Antarctica, and to a lesser degree in eastern North America.