Structure and Tectonics
This is a mountain
Paleomagnetism, Structure and
Tectonics Laboratories

University of Michigan
Department of Geological Sciences
534 C.C. Little Building
1100 N. University Ave

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1005, USA
Main Office: 734.764.1435
Structure Lab: 734.647.2157
Paleomagnetism Lab: 734.763.2149
Fax: 734.763.4690

Table of Contents

Collaborating UM faculty
Graduate Students
Past Graduates
Visiting Faculty and Research Associates

Last update: November 02, 2006

The Tectonics, Structural Geology and Geomorphology Group at the University of Michigan focuses on the dynamics, kinematics and mechanics of the Earth’s crust and lithosphere.  Research topics range from processes at the microscopic scale to global plate tectonics and their connection to surface processes, using observations from the field, from the laboratory and from modern computing. 
PaSTeL faculty are Ben van der Pluijm (structural geology) and Rob Van der Voo (paleomagnetism), with other U-M faculty in geology, geophysics and geochemistry closely interacting. 
Students and researchers in PaSTeL combine geologic observations with modern laboratory techniques (such as geochemistry, paleomagnetism, thermochronology) and modeling in various combinations.  The strong integration of modern quantitative and laboratory approaches offers a unique environment to study the principles that govern lithospheric processes.


Ben A. van der Pluijm (Professor; PhD 1984, New Brunswick). 
Ben van der Pluijm specializes in structural geology and crustal tectonics. His research ranges from the scale of the electron microscope to that of tectonic plates. Projects are usually field-oriented, but involve a variety of modern laboratory techniques, including fabric and texture analysis, rock magnetism, electron microscopy, quantitative petrology and isotope geochemistry, which provide an integrated approach to the study of crustal evolution. Currently, regional studies concentrate on terrane analysis in the Appalachians, deep-orogenic structure and D-P-T-t paths of the North American Grenville and the Penokean of northern Michigan, and far-field stresses and structure of the North American plate interior. Topical studies include, properties of clay-bearing fault gouge, ductile shear zone evolution, regional stress/strain patterns, and phyllosilicate deformation microstructures and fabrics.

Website: click here


Rob Van der Voo (Professor; PhD 1969, Utrecht). 
With interests in geophysics and tectonics, Rob van der Voo's research centers on paleomagnetism and its application to mountain-building processes and pre-Mesozoic plate tectonics. In addition, he and his students are involved in studies of the more theoretical aspects of the Earth's magnetic field and its history, and the processes by which sedimentary and igneous rocks acquire their magnetizations.

Website: click here

Current and Former Collaborating UM Faculty

Marin Clark - geomorphology
Todd Ehlers - geomorphology
Eric J. Essene - metamorphic petrology
Chris Hall - Ar geochronology
Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni - geodynamics
Nathan Niemi - structural geology
Donald R. Peacor  - mineralogy, electron microscopy
Henry N. Pollack - heat flow
David K. Rea - marine geology
Jeroen Ritsema - global seismology
Larry J. Ruff - earthquake seismology
Peter van Keken - geodynamics

Visiting Faculty, Research Associates and Collaborators

Andrew Aplin (Newcastle, UK) - clay fabrics
Mikhail Bazhenov
(Russian Academy of Sciences) - paleomagnetism
Ruarri Day-Stirrat
(Jackson School/BEG) - clay fabrics  
Peter Knoop
(Research Scientist) - field and classroom IT (/GeoPad/GeoPocket)
Agnes Kontny
(Heidelberg) - electron microscopy
Natalia Levashova
(Russian Academy of Sciences) - paleomagnetism
Hamza Lotfy
(El Minia University, Egypt)
Anja Schleicher (PDF; Heidelberg) - electron microscopy, clay mineralogy
Eric Tohver (PDF; Univ Sao Paulo) - Proterozoic of Brazil
Trond Torsvik
(Norway Geological Survey) - paleomagnetism
Charles verdel (PDF; Caltech) - fault rocks
Laurence Warr (Strasbourg, France) - clay mineralogy, friction melts

Past Visiting Faculty, Research Associates and Collaborators

Xiao-Min Fang (Lanzhou, China) - paleomagnetism
Mike McElhinny
(Adjunct Professor) - paleomagnetism
Gerd Jacob
(Univ. Halle, Germany; deceased)
Conall Mac Niocaill
(Oxford University, UK) - tectonics, paleomagnetism
Jerry Magloughlin
(PDF, 1993-95; Colorado State University)
Phil McCausland
(PDF) - paleomagnetism
Klaus Mezger (Universität Münster, Germany) - geochronology
Neal Iverson (Iowa) - glacial till fabrics
Jeffrey Rahl
(Washington&Lee) - structural geology, Spanish Pyrenees
Carl Richter
(PDF, 1990-93; Univ. Louisiana)
John Stamatakos (Adjunct Research Scientist; Desert Research Institute)
Belen Urcia
(PDF) - paleomagnetism, Spanish Pyrenees
Peter Vrolijk
(ExxonMobil) - fault gouge
Tanja Zegers (Utrecht, 1998; ESA)

Current Graduate Students in PasTeL

Matt Domeier - Paleogeography (MSc)
Sam Haines - Gouge formation and fluid-fault rock interaction (PhD, 2008)
Jim Hnat - Appalachian oroclines; deformation fabrics (PhD, 2009)
Tim O'Brien - Appalachians and Midcontinent

Past Graduates

Alexandra (Sacha) Abrajevitch - Paleogeography of the Kazakhstan Arc (PhD, 2008)
Victoria Brescoll (BSc, 1995)
Jay Busch (PhD, 1996; ExxonMobil, Houston)
Katherine A. Carlson (MSc, 1988)
Donald P. Cederquist (MSc 1998; Envirosense)
Adam Q. Collins (MSc 2002; Conoco)
John P. Craddock (PhD, 1988; Macalester)
Jim Cureton (MSc, 1994; San Francisco)
Julie E. Gales (MSc, 1987)
Brita R. Graham (BSc, 1998; USGS)
John Harris (MSc, 1997, Texaco, Bakersfield)
Noralynn Hassold - Antarctic depositional environments; grain size analysis and magnetic fabrics (PhD, 2007)
Nei-Che Ho (PhD, 1998; PeopleSoft)
Laura Holladay (BSc, 2001)
Bernard Housen (PhD, 1994; Western Washington University)
Paul Howell (PhD, 1993; University of Kentucky)
Sarah Jacobson (BSc, 2000)
Kathleen Johnson (BSc, 1996)
Rex Johnson (PhD)
Leah Joseph (PhD, 2000; Hobart and William Smith Colleges)
John Kollmeier (MSc, 2002; ExxonMobil)
Giselle M. Knudsen (BSc, 1994)
Laura C. Knutson (BSc, 1989)
Angela M. Lessard (BSc, 1994)
Margo J. Liss (MSc, 1992)
Art D. Lombard (MSc, 1990; Conoco)
Allen McNamara (MSc, 1998; Univ. Michigan)
Scott T. McWhinnie (MSc, 1988)
Joe Meert (PhD, 1993; Indiana State University)
Liz Meyers (MSc, 1996; Alaska)
Philip Ong (MSc, 2004; Univ Hawaii)
Stephen Potts (PhD, 1993; CTI and Associates, MI)
Mark A. Rathmell (MSc, 1993)
Jingwei Si (MSc 2001, George Mason University)
John Solum (PhD, 2005; Sam Houston University)
Nick Speyer (BSc, 2005)
Meg Streepey (PhD, 2001; Earlham College)
Eric Tohver (PhD, 2003; NSF Postdoctoral Fellow)
Sean Todaro (MSc, 1994; Woodward-Clyde, Denver)
Sara Tourscher - SAFOD fault rocks (MSc, 2006)
Mary Ellen Tuccillo (MSc, 1990)
Daming Wang (PhD 2003)
Arlo B. Weil (PhD, 2001. Bryn Mawr)
Weixin Xu (PhD, 1996; Schlumberger)
M. Reid Wellensiek (MSc, 1988)
Maodu Yan - (PhD, 2005; UC Santa Cruz)
Yan “Jessie” Yonghong (MSc, 2000)
Weiming Zhou (PhD 2000; Motorola)

Core Courses

GS515 Tectonics
A course in general tectonics intended for entering graduate students in geology. It considers modern tectonic processes at plate boundaries and the geologic signatures of past large-scale tectonic events. Most of the present day plate boundaries lie beneath the sea, but ocean basins are relatively young features so it is the continents that preserve the long geologic record of past events. The course is subdivided into five segments:
Introduction and theory development; processes at modern plate boundaries; evolution of new and old ocean basins; modern tectonic systems of the continents; and the geologic history of those systems. Students will be required to read and understand the geological literature, present oral reports, and write papers and research proposals.

GS525 Tectonophysics
Tectonophysics is aimed at incoming graduate students and senior undergraduates, and examines the basic physical processes of the dynamic Earth. The material will cover a broad range of topics that include: plate kinematics, spherical geometry, hotspot tracks, polar wander, gravity, isostasy, geoid, heat sources and heat transport, thermal structure, crystal defect-structure, brittle and ductile processes, crustal geometry, tectono-chronology, plate deformation, processes at plate boundaries, plate-driving forces, basin formation, fluid dynamics, rheologic models, mantle dynamics.  Graduate students of all backgrounds are encouraged to take this course that offers a broad and intellectually diverse overview of the physical Earth.  A basic knowledge of mathematics and physics is required, but more advanced material will be covered as part of the class.  The class is taught by several faculty, and will meet for two 1.5 hour sessions and one 1-hour recitation session/laboratory each week.  We’ll make extensive use of research articles and background reading.  Evaluation is variably based on an (oral) exam, class participation, homework and an AGU-style research presentation. (website)

GS534 Seminars
Weekly research group meeting ("FroST").
Research in tectonics, structural geology and geomorphology; annual student and faculty research seminar of TSG group.


Ben van der Pluijm
Rob Van der Voo

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This is visit #since April, 1997.  Last updated on October 20, 2009