Crustal and Lithospheric Dynamics

The Crustal and Lithospheric Dynamics Group at USC are involved in a collaborative program of research into the mechanics of plate-boundary deformation. This includes studies of:

  • the way strain is distributed within the San Andreas transform zone of California

We apply a range of research methods, including geodesy, observational seismology, structural analysis, petrology, geochronology, and paleomagnetism, with the aim of testing mechanical models, and defining more precisely the distribution and rates of deformation in deforming regions.

Program to Investigate Convective Alboran Sea System Overturn:
A multi-disciplinary effort to understand the geodynamics of the westernmost margin of the Mediterranean based on geological and seismological imaging, petrology, and fluid dynamical modeling.

Image: Electron backscatter diffraction image of deformed quartzite from southern Spain. The colors indicate the crystallographic orientation of the grains. Study of dynamically recrystallized grainsize in rocks like these allow measurement of the flow stress during deformation.

Deep Structure of Lithospheric Faults
Implications of the rheology of ductile shear zones for the width of plate boundary fault zones below the brittle-ductile transition.

Aims to investigate the tectonics of the San Andreas Transform system, primarily through the use of the geodetically-defined velocity field in California. It has three main themes: Geodetic and seismotectonic constraints on the active tectonics of California, Analysis of the slip-rate distribution on SAF-related faults in California, and the Bookshelf slip on rotating panels of sinistral faults within the San Andreas Transform system.

Exhumation of High-Pressure Metamorphic Rocks in Accretionary Orogens
Aims to investigate some of the outstanding problems in the Franciscan Complex: California's Mesozoic - Tertiary accretionary complex by a detailed structural analysis of the Paskenta - Covelo transect in the northern Coast Ranges. Some of these issues include: Origin of mud-matrix melanges, contractional deformation, exhumation of high-P metamorphic rocks, and the nature of the Coast Range Fault.

Crustal Strength
Aims to develop naturally constrained profiles of the strength of the lower continental crust near the brittle-ductile transition using paleopiezometry, geothermobarometry, thermochronology, and numerical modeling to understand the stress-temperature-depth evolution of exhumed mid-crustal rocks.

  • Zumberge Hall of Science (ZHS)
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0740
  • Phone: (213) 740-6106
  • Email: