Tectonics has traditionally been a program of great strength at USC. Research in Tectonics at the Department of Earth Sciences addresses thematic problems concerning tectonic processes, including the mechanics of collisional orogens, continental transforms, and accretionary wedges, and the evolution of magmatic arcs. We have a particular focus on both the ancient and active tectonics of the North American Cordillera tectonics in China and Mongolia, the metamorphic core complexes of the Basin and Range province, the origin of the arcuate mountain belts and back-arc basins of the Mediterranean region, and the exhumation of high-pressure metamorphic rocks.

Research methods include field studies, geodetic studies of active plate boundary deformation, paleomagnetism, paleoseismology, thermobarometry, and geochronology to define pressure-temperature-time paths of rocks, and thermo-mechanical modeling. USC research also takes full advantage of evolving analytical and technological advances - among them, LiDAR airborne surveys, GPS-assisted and GIS-based mapping, cosmogenic radio-nuclide dating, Lu-Hf garnet age dating, high precision TIMS and ICP-MS U-Pb dating, and strain analyses.

Current research projects involving graduate students include:

  • Active tectonics of intracontinental transforms such as the San Andreas and the North Anatolian fault
  • Magmatic and tectonic processes in tilted crustal sections in Joshua Tree National Park, California, Gobi-Tienshan, Mongolia, and the Cascades core, Washington
  • Orogenesis along the North China Craton and Central Asian Orogenic Belt
  • Analysis of crustal strength using microstructural analysis of exhumed rocks in extensional tectonic environments in SE California and southern Spain
  • Origin of back-arc basin extension in the Western Mediterranean region
  • Zumberge Hall of Science (ZHS)
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0740
  • Phone: (213) 740-6106
  • Email: earthsci@usc.edu