Earth Structure

Earth 351/451
Ben van der Pluijm, BR Clark Professor of Geology
University of Michigan, Dept of Earth & Environmental Sciences


Univ MichiganEarth 351/451

Lecture: M/W 8:30-10:00am
Location: see Canvas

Laboratory: see Canvas

Contact Information

Ben van der Pluijm, 4534b CC Little Building;
Office hours: by email

GSIs: see U-M's Canvas

PDFs of lecture PowerPoint files are posted at:

   (images from Earth Structure, by van der Pluijm and Marshak)

Course Descriptions

Earth 351

A process-based approach to the description and analysis of geological structures of Earth's lithosphere (crust and upper mantle), and introduction to global tectonics. Three hours lecture and one laboratory session weekly.

These topics are included: description of geological structures; kinematics and dynamics of folding and faulting; stress, strain, deformation and rheology; deformation mechanisms and microstructures; whole-earth structure; plate tectonic settings; selected regional tectonics.

This is a core course for E&ES majors and is required for upper-level field camp (Earth440), but the course is open to all who want to have a basic knowledge of a key theme in geology. Non-earth majors and new graduate students can also elect the no-lab version of this class (Earth 451).

Check class and lab sections availability here.

Earth 451 (meet together)

A process-based approach to the description and analysis of geological structures in Earth's lithosphere and introduction to global plate tectonics. Topics covered are: mechanics, stress, strain and deformation; hand-specimen and field description of geological structures; the kinematics and dynamics of folding and faulting; flow of rocks (rheology); introduction to dislocation theory; microstructural analysis; plate tectonic settings; tectonic evolution of selected regions. The course is aimed at those with an interest in geology beyond the introductory level, as well as students who want a basic understanding of the outer Earth's physical properties.

Check for availability.



New textbook Processes in Structural Geology and Tectonics is available for 4-5m rent at no cost to U-M students and minimal cost for non-UM users.

Processes in Structural Geology and TectonicsPSG&T offers a process-based approach to learning about structural geology and tectonics, based on material in Earth Structure (2nd ed). The online text combines fundamentals, observations and applications and differs significantly from most textbook offerings in this area by a novel and intuitive integration of content. The material starts with examination of the behavior, properties and structures of the upper crust, which is dominated by frictional procesess, followed by considering a lower crust that deforms primarily by plastic processes; the third block of chapters examines the deformation characteristics of major tectonic settings.
The pricing of PSG&T is another departure from traditional texts in this area, with very competitve rates (<10% of print) for minimally 5-month access.
ISBN 978-1-5323-0282-4


ES2 coverOld textbook:

EarthStructure: An Introduction to Structural Geology and Tectonics (2nd edition) by Ben A. van der Pluijm and Stephen Marshak.

WW Norton, 656 p.; 2004; 0-393-92467-X




Laboratory text

Weekly laboratories are based on various sources and in-house activities.

© Ben van der Pluijm. Last updated: 21-aug-17 16:30